Interview with collectif 9: Classical Music Done Rock Style

collectif9. Photo Danylö Böbyk collectif9. Photo Danylö Böbyk

collectif9 performed on February 19 in Montreal. Angela asked them about how they got started and the release of their new album.

collectif 9 live. photo Djanna Lich

collectif 9 live. photo Djanna Lich

Angela Beaupre (AB): How did you all meet?

collectif9 (C): We met at university. At some point we have all been students at l’Université de Montreal or McGill University, and although we had never played all together before, many of us had collaborated in other formations. We already knew each other as musicians and friends before we started the group, and we knew we’d all get along… most of the time.

AB: How did the idea of collectif9 come about and the rock show type of presentation?

C: How DID the idea come about? collectif9 and our presentation style is something that seems to be in constant flux! When we started, we wanted to have a group that was versatile in terms of repertoire suitability, the flexibility of a chamber group with the power of an orchestra, and we wanted to perform in places where we wanted to hang out. Playing amplified gives us the possibility of playing in any space, without worrying about the rustle of movement and the clinking of glasses. As for the rest of the rock vibe (the lighting, our movement, the flow of the music, our energy, other special effects and media), it’s fun for us and it’s a great, multi-sensory way to communicate with our audience! It’s always developing because we are always looking for “more” (and more, and more).

AB: What kind of training have you all had? Was it mostly traditional/classical, and did you have any untraditional influences?

C: We are all classically trained players, but we have all found ourselves playing in other non-traditional situations, be that bluegrass, jazz, pop, or rock. We love classical music, but we love other music too. It’s safe to say that most of our experiences (listening, jamming, performing) have influenced us in some way.

collectif 9 live. photo Djanna Lich

collectif 9 live. photo Djanna Lich

AB: What kinds of pieces do you choose for your shows? What makes a classical piece a good fit for collectif9?

C: When choosing our repertoire, a lot of factors come in to play. Each piece has to fit well within the flow of the total program. In general, most of our pieces have a groove, whether it’s very upbeat or slow and smooth. We start with pieces we like and go with a trial and error system. Not everything works and sometimes we have to make cuts, but other times we can be surprised at how well something else will work.

AB: It looks like you’re doing a lot more touring this year than in the past. What do you attribute to the apparent increase in interest in collectif9.

C: We are so excited for our “boom” in concerts this year. Last year, collectif9 was selected to participate in “Les Entrées en scène Loto-Québec”, and that has definitely increased our mobility here in Québec. We have also been the lucky recipients of support, encouragement, and good words of a lot of great people that believe in what we do and want us to be heard. We have a lot of exciting things coming up in the next few years as well, so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

AB: Tell me about your tour in China. How did that come about? Do you have any other international dates coming up? [NOTE: collectif9’s China tour was December 2015]

C: We had an amazing time in China this past December and it was very exciting! The halls we played in were beautiful and the audiences were enthusiastic and involved. We have future international tours in the works, both in North America and across the pond, and we are looking forward to experiencing new places and meeting new people.

AB: Tell me about your new album. Are you happy with how it has turned out? Are there plans for another?

C: Our new album, Volksmobiles, officially launched on February 19 at Théâtre Outremont! We are very happy with how it has turned out, very excited for its official release, and yes, nervous to get it out there! A lot of people have contributed their creative blood, sweat, and tears, and we are so grateful for their work. As for future albums, there are always plans for more (we like making plans!), but for now we will just share this first, tiny, masterpiece.

AB: What is your ultimate goal for collectif9?

C: This is a big question. We have many goals, and I’m not sure any of them could be described as our “ultimate”. We like creating, learning, collaborating, and sharing, so these are the main goals you’ll find in our future. Perhaps our ultimate goal is to continue to bring music to people and places, to continue to explore the possibilities of classical music, and to always look further than where we are.

Collectif9 launched Volksmobiles in Montreal on February 19. Keep an eye on their website for future dates.