“Our parents are still active and still making albums which is really encouraging,” Béatrix Méthé said. “Because basically we are doing what we know and what we’ve seen and watched happen around us our whole lives. It’s a tradition that’s very alive, and it’s still alive. I think sometimes people forget.”
Not only is Béatrix a member of the five-piece band Rosier, like every member of the group, she’s the offspring of Quebec folk performers and folklorists. In Béatrix’s case, her father is fiddler Claude Méthé,, and her mother is singer-songwriter Dana Whittle, who is also a founding member of “Folquebec” which is dedicated to promoting Quebec folk music internationally. The rest of Rosier is made up of Colin Savoie-Levac, Marie Savoie-Levac, Éléonore Pitre and Sarah Marchand.
“We all kind of found each other as kids in jams and parties and festivals,” she said, “because our parents were musicians and artists and were part of this really rich musical scene. We never thought we’d ever make a band together, but it happened naturally. To be honest, when we first started, it was just for fun. I was 13, and the others were in their late teens, and we were not expecting it to become what it has, which is basically our lives for the past 12 years now. But we definitely owe a lot to the really amazing music scene we have here in Quebec in the traditional music world, including our parents, which can sound kind of funny. But that’s just what it is! They’re the reason why we all met each other.”
The release of the new album, Légèrement, is the first full-length album by Rosier, who began in 2008 and recorded three albums under the moniker, Les Poules à Colin.
“This is definitely an important album for us in the sense that it’s the first LP we’ve released under the new name,” Béatrix said. “For us it represents this identity we’ve been really happy to embrace. It started with the name change but was also accompanied by this deeper dive into a world we’re very interested in, which is combining folk traditions with alternative music and the indie folk music you would hear today. We’ve always had an interest in exploring further than just the tradition we had done with Les Poules à Colin. So while writing some new songs and exploring new sounds we decided to change names in 2019.”
They kicked off their re-branding by recording a self-titled EP that year with Quinn Bachand acting as producer, and then immediately set to work on Légèrement.
“It’s a lot of folk songs in French that we either changed the melodies or the chords, finding new harmonies and giving them a more contemporary vibe. [It’s] to try to make these songs have a bit more sense in the world that we’re living in and the music scene we’re navigating.”
Having Quinn Bachand as producer was essential in achieving the sound Rosier was looking for. In fact, he was responsible for the recording of the Rosier EP.
“He suggested a couple of years ago, as a friend, ‘If ever you want me to record you guys,’ and we were initially thinking that would be great. He’s a fantastic musician. But he really helped us find our sound. It was kind of out of the blue. We just did it for fun, and it ended up really shaping what we ended up doing on this new album. So it made so much sense for us to work with him again in terms of sounds and arrangements and compositions. He definitely brought some new ideas to the table. He’s a really great collaborator, and we’re really happy to work with him.”
From the beginning as Les Poules à Colin, the group had their own vision of how they approached music.
“We wanted to sing trad songs and learn traditional tunes,” said Béatrix. “On our first ever demo, we recorded a song by The Duhks, ‘Annabelle,’ which is not traditional at all. We were inspired by other folks that were in a beautiful way incorporating folk traditions and new traditions. So that’s what kicked the band off to start. We rapidly started writing our own tunes on fiddle, and I incorporated some of my compositions. Now we really are essentially writing all of the material but are deeply connected to the traditional song repertoire. A lot of French lyrics are either taken from archives or books that have been collected from parts of Quebec and France. We really enjoy reading a lot of these and kind of treat them as poetry almost and put our own music to them.”
Establishing a new sound under a new band name can be challenging at the best of times but the addition of a pandemic can pose added stresses.
“We did struggle at the beginning in deciding what we were going to do,” Béatrix admitted. “I think that’s a problem a lot of artists and bands have had. Just trying to plan is essentially impossible at this point. Our album was recorded a month before the official pandemic alert, and it was pretty much ready last spring. We were definitely frustrated that we weren’t going to be able to release it in person and tour. That was very hard. [But] we’re very lucky and very happy to have such a tight community in Canada and in the States. We’ve toured a lot in the last 12 years, so we have a lot of followers, so I think it was good timing in a way. We’re very glad we waited until now to release the album because I feel like people at this point are in need of music and comfort, arts and culture. So we’re very happy to finally put it out. We feel like we can almost see the light at the end of this tunnel in terms of things getting started again. There’s a little bit of concerts and events happening here and there, so we’re hoping to hop back into the wheel.”
To find out more about Rosier and their new album, Légèrement, go to rosierband.com.