Myriam Gendron :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

There are some people, like me, who consider Myriam Gendron’s Not So Deep as a Well to be one of the finest albums of the 2010s. It’s been seven long years since the Montreal artist released her luminous collection of Dorothy Parker poems set to music, but the wait has been worth it. 

Gendron’s latest project, the double album Ma délire – Songs of love, lost & found, is an even more ambitious affair than her debut. Delving deep into traditional music from Quebec, France, and the United States, she rewired segments of songs to emphasize evocative lyrics and tossed out others that she found abhorrent. Singing in French and English, with guest contributions from musicians including guitarist Bill Nace and drummer Chris Corsano, these historic songs become universal, while her tender voice maintains the soft power to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. 

Interviews with Gendron are almost as rare as her recordings or live performances, so it was a great pleasure to receive her answers to a series of questions sent via email. As she explains below, “I’m happy the Americans play on songs in French and the Québécois play on songs in English. The whole record is about building bridges!” 

Myriam Gendron: I’ve been playing guitar and singing since the age of 12 but I never really thought it was worth anything outside of my bedroom until my partner Benoît Chaput started taking my stuff seriously. That happened when I started setting the Dorothy Parker poems to music. He convinced me to take it to another level. Much to my surprise at the time, people’s reactions to Not So Deep as a Wellwere very enthusiastic. That’s probably when the “switch into seriousness” happened for me. I realized I could do some good around me with my music.

AD: Your inspiration for this album began during an artistic residency in 2016, but you write that “it took five years to find the time and mental space to actually get into it.” What else kept you busy during that time?

Myriam Gendron: Kids and work! My daughter was born two months after Not So Deep as a Well came out. In a 2014 interview, I remember saying I would use the extra free time my maternity leave gave me to write new music. That was very naive of me! There has been no free time at all. But I’m not bitter about it! I also had a son in 2017. So of course, with a full-time job and two young kids, it’s very hard to find time and mental space to be creative. My only option was to obtain a writing grant. I waited for the kids to be old enough and I applied for a grant. And I got it! That allowed me to take seven months off work and dedicate myself entirely to this new record.