In this digital single’s age, some musician are focusing their energy on writing a hit single rather than creating an album as a whole, and let’s face it, the end results are often nicer on paper than in earphones. It seems as though artists suddenly develop some kind of split personality disorder tendencies before assembling a bunch of somewhat eclectic songs together rather than working on a project as an ensemble, and therefore creating a complete work of art. While at the much anticipated release of Andre Papanicolaou‘s second LP Strange Nights last Wednesday, we were relieved to realize there was still hope for music lovers; emerging artists can still create albums that offer an intricate yet logical flow.
After countless shows supporting renowned musicians such as Vincent Vallières and Pascale Picard, the back-up guitarist turned singer-songwriter decided to release, write, play and produce his first album, Into the Woods, Out of the Woods back in 2013, for which his diligent efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Heck, he also produced Patrice Michaud‘s “Le feu de chaque jour”. But for his second LP, A-Paps (Hello, best nickname of the year) figured it was time to take some of the production pressure off and take a step back. “I needed to separate the two (playing and producing). Or at least have the illusion that I was. When you produce the album, you don’t just think of the song. You have to think of the theme, the sound, the craftsmanship, the “how to” of the whole thing.” The producing reigns were given to one quarter of The Barr Brothers: Brad Barr. “We would often run into each other at bars or whatever and even though we didn’t know each other that well, I felt as though we had some sort of connection. That and the fact that I knew he would approach the “producing” job from a musician’s perspective. It made sense” (Attention all, the lesson here: never underestimate the power of drunken encounters!)
Together, they created what is now known as Strange Nights: an album A-Paps describes as being more instinctive than the first. “It doesn’t always have to be Shakespeare. It’s all about what you want to say and getting your message out there. Some songs are more direct, some songs are more abstract. But all are in the same universe.” and we agree. The album starts off with a minute long instrumental piece, “Dusk”, followed immediately by the darker tones of the title track “Strange Nights”. A great recording, yes, but the live version is how it’s meant to be listened to. Yo-yoing between happy and melancholic sounds, the album soon reaches what seems to be a breaking point: we’ve called upon the ballad of the album. “For A While” strips A-Paps of any superfluous instruments, leaving him alone with his guitar. The “Less is More” saying applies to more than indian recipes and Mies Van Der Rohe architecture and proof that a minimalistic approach applies so well to music is in this song. The album continues on strong, until this “Been up all night, thinking of what to say, the sky lit up and made it go away.”
See? It just works.
With a name like Andre, it’s no surprise some raise the familiar language question. Yeah yeah, we were no different. So here it is: A-Paps‘ mother is a bilingual Quebecer, his father – drum roll please – Greek. Though born and raised in Montreal, the musician spent most of his time speaking in english, at home and in school. One language wasn’t thought to be better than the other one though, that’s just the way it was. The nonexistence of a language barrier was the mindset in which he was raised and one he’s kept ever since. Simply put, for him, creating in English was the natural way to go. If he was initially nervous about his decision, the support of his fans and the general public quickly erased any trace of doubt. ”In the end, music lovers will always like a good song, regardless of the language it is sung in.” We sure hope he’s right.
LISTS OF FAVORITES:
Favourite restaurant: Best kept secret is Kuljit, in Ville St-Laurent, an indian BYOW (we’re sold) restaurant in a strip mall with, according to A-Paps, the best Butter Chicken in the city (and we’re already heading there.)
Best Bar: St-Sacrement
Favourite album: Paul McCartney’s “Ram”.
Feature image: ©LePetitRusse
About Caroline Royer
NUMTL Founder and Editor-in-chief, Caroline is an Ottawa-born Montrealer who has spent the better part of her life playing and listening to music. Otherwise, she is a diehard Sens fan, freakishly into architecture and industrial design and terrible at staying put for more than 5 minutes.