I Hear You Calling: An Interview With Myriam Gendron

If Myriam Gendron’s debut album, Not So Deep As A Well, was a surprise, her new record, Ma délire – Songs of love, lost & found, is a revelation. Stripping songs to their core and rebuilding them with a unique vision and modern edge, Gendron’s music is faultless. Her work is woven with a sharp simplicity where guitar lines are stripped to their barest, most potent form, and vocal melodies effortlessly hit like a ton of bricks. This rare combination is why her work is instantly timeless.

Ma délire – Songs of love, lost & found is out on October 1 via Feeding Tube and Les Albums Claus. It’s among the very best albums released in 2021 and will have staying power well into the years to come. Order it HERE. Myriam answered my questions throughout September.

Before getting into the new record, I want to ask, like I often do to start interviews, what some of your earliest memories of music and sound are, whether it’s a song or musician or an environmental sound – anything that has stuck with you?

I was lucky, I grew up with music. My elementary school offered a special music program: one-third of the time spent in school was dedicated to music. I still remember the songs we played and sang (from popular songs to religious hymns in Latin). My childhood musical memories are very full! If I try to go earlier than that, I think what stuck with me is one lullaby my father sang to me: the traditional song “Dans la prison de Londres”, but with the wrong melody! He was mistakenly using another traditional melody, that of “Isabeau s’y promène”. Both are very well-known traditional songs, but he mixed them up and created a new one. That’s the one I remember, and that’s the one I sing to my kids. I like that. I think it might have inspired me in my non-purist approach to the traditional material.   

There’s a seven-year gap between the first record and this one. When did you know you wanted to make a record of traditional music?

In 2016, I was invited to Le Bic, Quebec, for a one-week residency in an old mill that had been turned into a boat repair workshop. A very inspiring place. At the time, my partner and I were completely obsessed by a 1971 record he had just bought for a dollar: Ça roule by Philippe Gagnon and Dominique Tremblay, two folklorists who did very modern and experimental stuff with traditional music. On this record, we discovered the traditional tune “Au coeur de ma délire”. Their version of it is absolutely stunning. Not many people know this song here, and I thought it was so beautiful I wanted to do something with it. I tried many things and finally decided to use the sounds of my surroundings to create a musical landscape and play the song on it. It’s the same recording that you can find on Ma délire. That was the sparkle. After the residency, I knew I wanted to go further and make a record inspired by traditional music. But motherhood has been my main project since Not So Deep as a Well came out. I had two kids in the meantime and it’s been very time and energy-consuming! When my youngest one turned three, I decided it was time to go back to music. I really needed it. I applied for a grant, I got it, and I was then able to take a seven-month leave from my work and dedicate myself entirely to this new project.