Experimental and boundary breaking, while keeping the focus on Montreal, the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival features a month of diverse artists at a consortium of venues (Casa del Popolo, Sala Rossa, La Vitrola, and Il Motore). This year, the event includes a collaboration with Breakglass Studios entitled Live From Breakglass where three artists will be audio and video recorded. The artists are The Luyas, Little Scream, and Maica Mia, all presenting new material. In addition to the performance recording, there will be a behind the scenes studio interview with the artists that bookends the intimate performance. I spoke to Steve Guimond and James Benjamin about the origins and expectations about this unique event.
The event was several years in the making. Guimond explains that he and Breakglass studio’s James Benjamin have tried for four years to make it happen. “They’re super busy and we’re super busy and in the past we talked about it and got working on it way too late,” explains Guimond. “This year we made it work.”
The relationship between the Suoni group and Breakglass has a long history. “A lot of bands they record play here, so it’s a natural relationship. James Benjamin also played in a band we worked with.”
The concept is to allow a band to perform in front of an intimate crowd of around 75-100 people while Breakglass records the performance. “It’s a pretty cool concept,” says Guimond. “The band is right there in front of the audience. There’s not much separation. Bands are playing the show, and everything is recorded through studio’s gear at same time as it’s being broadcast (you can watch HERE). The band walks away with recording of show. It’s a win-win for artists, for the public, and the studio. It’s a unique situation in the live-concert-going experience.”
James Benjamin, part of the team at Breakglass Studios, similarly explains that this is a special experience for botht he bands and the fans. “It’s a rare opportunity for fans to see some of their favorite bands in the kind of smaller, more intimate venue, where they can really connect with their audience, and that are actually the venues that sound by far the best. In the case of these Breakglass shows, the show is taking place in an acoustically treated 1200 square foot live room, with the benefit of a legendary console and all kinds of amazing microphones, so simply put, this is about as good as a concert can sound and feel.”
Benjamin also notes that the broadcast allows this special performance to reach a large audience. “While we only sell a few tickets to see the show at the studio, the idea has always been to be able to broadcast these intimate and incredible sounding performances to as big an audience as possible, and being able to do so live via the internet is very exciting,” he says. “One additional factor that’s led to my desire to get these shows out there on line is simply that despite there being tons and tons of concert footage out there on the internet, quite frankly, most of it looks and sounds terrible. What we’re going to be doing is broadcasting a compelling concert and interview, live, with HD video and the very best sound quality on the internet.”
Breakglass has worked with many different artists in this format. Benjamin overviews that the first show was with Duchess Says during Pop Montreal in 2010. “Since then we’ve been lucky enough to work with The Arcade Fire (a track from our live show with them is actually on the record Reflektor), Plants and Animals, Les Soeurs Boulay, Misteur Valaire, Yamantaka Sonic Titan, Moonface, Young Galaxy, Solar Year, Murray Lightburn, and Mozart’s Sister, amongst many other, as well as with festivals like Pop Montreal, Suoni Per Il Popolo, and M for Montreal,” Benjamin says. “This is really just the beginning of our Live From Breakglass, live broadcasts. We’ve got something cool planned for during the Jazz fest that I’ll be able to let people know about in a couple weeks, and keep your eyes open for the announcement of this year’s Pop Montreal shows at Breakglass, which I’m sure will be very cool!”
When it came to choosing artists for the Breakglass-Suoni collaboration, Benjamin and Guimond worked together. “We co-curated the series. We set off with the idea of doing this for 3-5 nights,” says Guimond. “We met up one afternoon and had a wish list of who we wanted and narrowed it down. It was artists who fit both the profiles of both the festival and studio.”
Guimond further elaborates the mission of the Suoni per il Popolo festival. “The mission of the festival has many hats and many definitions. One thing is that it’s all local artists and all artists that we’ve work with before so we have relationships with them. Some of them have played the festival before, some of them played our venues. A large part of the focus is on wonderful Montreal music and [the Luyas, Little Scream, and Maica Mia] are three stellar examples. They all have their own unique sound and they kind of represent what’s happening in Montreal.”
Guimond takes pride in Montreal’s music scene. “It’s a wonderful audio cocktail that only comes out of this city,” he says. “It’s a unique Montreal sound.”
The Breakglass Studio event features The Luyas with Andrew Keoghan on June 12 at 11pm, Little Scream on June 13 at 9pm, and Maica Mia on June 14 at 7pm, all as part of the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival at Breakglass Studios (7250 Clark). $15.