Loig Morin brings songs of the seasons to Festival d’été

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      Singer-songwriter Loig Morin has done pretty well for himself since moving to Vancouver from a small town in Britanny, France. For one thing, when he got here he couldn't speak any English, and now he's fluent enough to give media interviews. And when he arrived here in 2010 with his wife and their three-year-old twins he had next to nothing. He'd had to sell his musical instruments in France in order to pay for the flight.

      "We were not really happy in France," recalls Loig on the line from his home in West Vancouver, "and we wanted a change, a new adventure. It was not the plan for me to come to Vancouver and play music, but when we arrived in Canada our life and the music just came like 'boom!'. After maybe four months someone from Radio Canada heard I was here and he knew my music in France, and he said, 'Oh, can you come into Radio Canada and have an interview?,' and I said 'Oh yes, why not,' and it started again."

      Since embracing the musical life in Vancouver Morin has released four full-length albums, including 2012's Lonsdale, 2018's La Rivière, 2019's Citadelle, and Printemps, which came out in April of 2021. He's one of the most anticipated acts at this year's Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver, where he'll perform on a bill with Montreal synth-pop duo Paupière this Thursday (August 26).

      Printemps (French for "spring"), is the first of four albums loosely based around the four seasons that Morin plans to release. The idea came to him before the pandemic hit, as a way to get him out of his comfort zone.

      "I just decided to work on the seasons to be able to produce a lot of songs," he says, "and to know where I'm going. I do not want to spend one or two years on an album; I just want to produce music and produce song."

      Morin's plan to put out one album per season hasn't quite worked out chronologically, however. His next album, set for release on October 22, is titled Autombe (autumn). So, his fans may well ask, what happened to L'été (summer)?

      "Yeah, it was too short actually," he replies with a laugh. "I just released Printemps in April, and it was really too short, so I said 'Okay, I'll jump to the autumn.' Then I'm going back for summer, and I'll put winter at the end."

      The first single from Printemps was “Romance a l’italienne”, a pop tune with hints of electronica. Morin performs it as a duet with local chanteuse Jill Barber, who he first met when they both appeared on the francophone TV show Tout pour la musique.

      "After that we played together at the Festival d’été," says Morin, "and we started to be friends. I really love her voice, and we had something together--like we click, you know what I mean? So I said, 'Maybe I'll compose a song that you can sing on,' and she was very excited about it. So we did 'Romance a l’italienne' and after that she decided to come back to do one song for each season."

      The video for "Romance a l’italienne" was shot at Whytecliff Park in West Van, but what might seem even more familiar to some listeners is the similarity to a hit song by the Police. So was Morin worried that he might get sued by Sting and the boys for possibly infringing on the sound of "Every Breath You Take"?

      "No, it's kind of a--how do you say it--like a reverence? I really like this band, and when I found the chord I said, 'Yeah, it's kind of a Police song', but at the end it's not the same because the melody's different. It's funny because some people notice it, and some don't hear it."

      One Morin-written song on Printemps that definitely has its own vibe is the second single, "La bête", a bouncy number featuring a guest appearance by Vancouver vocalist Maude GL, who will perform with Morin at his Festival d’été gig. He points out that the breezy spirit of that song can be traced back to his fondness, as a kid, for another British band that was big in the '80s.

      "I just want to write pop songs like some bands that I really like--like the pop period from the Cure. I like some singers in French, but I'm a fan [of] Anglo-Saxon music more than French music."

      When asked to name the last album he listened to for his personal enjoyment, Morin actually comes up with two: the latest disc by Lana Del Rey, and Lloyd Cole's 2006 platter, Antidepressant. When it comes to Vancouver musicians that he most admires, he cites drummer Ashwin Sood, former Grapes of Wrath member Vincent Leslie Jones, and folk band Rio Samaya.

      He's also a big fan of local guitarist Vinay Lobo, who will accompany him and Maude GL at Festival d’été.

      "Most of the songs will be from Printemps," he says of the show's setlist, "because when I released it last April we didn't play live in front of people because it was still the restrictions and everything. I played it in front of cameras--like events on the web--but not in front of the people.

      "And the concert sold out ten days ago," he adds, "so I was very surprised."

      Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver runs from August 23 to 29, with both in-person concerts at Studio 16 and streamed shows. You can see the full festival schedule here.