From the first strains of “Coastline,” track one on Geoffroy’s eponymous debut album, listeners are swept up and away into an aural wash that is at once expansive and pointed. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but the Montreal-based artist succeeds with aplomb, which is even more impressive considering Coastline is his debut record. I caught up with Geoffroy at the Festival d’ete Quebec, an 11-day music extravaganza that takes place in July in Quebec City, where the singer/songwriter was slated to perform. (See Festival d’ete Quebec). Overhead, the sun played hide-and-seek with rain clouds as Geoffroy and I spoke about his music, becoming famous, and the importance of paying attention to details.
I am amazed Coastline is your debut album. It is so polished and thoughtful. I didn’t want to put something out that was just to put something out. I released an EP [Soaked in Gold] of four songs in 2015, but that was kind of new songs that we did for … not for fun, but for us. Then we released one ourselves and got a record deal and then realized, “Okay, well I should take this more seriously and I should put the effort needed.” So then after Soaked in Gold, we played a few shows. And there was something going on and I could feel a hype in interest. So I did what I had to do, put in the work, and two years of composing and writing and studio.
Did you always intend become a musician? Well, it was always a dream, you know? And I studied a lot. I studied management and then I did a Masters in music business; I worked at labels and festivals. So I was a lot on the music industry side. And I was a scout for music producers for film and TV, but never really took music and being on stage as plan A. I kind of kept it as a hobby, or plan B. But I’m realizing it would be stupid not to. I’d regret not going as far as I can push this.
Have you been surprised by the reception? Yeah, I’ve been waiting for people to hate me or bash me. I haven’t!
That’ll come. Once you become very popular, then they’ll all hate you, right? That’s what scares me in this line…it includes being a celebrity. Success includes being in the public eye. There’s ways to manage it. But I want to be careful about that. I don’t want my life to be run by Instagram and all that…I’ve always been kind of a low-profile kind of person, so yeah, that’s just the scary aspect of the job for me.
Are you marketing yourself outside of Canada? We’re starting to. The plan is to find the right partners in every single territory that we want to enter. Find the right label and booker in the States and then repeat that process for some parts of Europe…and then Australia. So the plan is to export and to travel. Now you still have to take your time and do it right instead of doing it rushed. But definitely is the goal for me.
Your business background must be helpful. Some people just hop in a van and go on an insane road tour. And then they rely on other people, but it’s your business in the end. You’re running your startup.
But you’ve got the backup of a label, so that must help. I’m not with a major [label] and I didn’t want, necessarily, to go with a major…Majors can be scary. And can either blow you up or destroy your career.
What’s your music background? I started playing when I was young, when I was eight. When I was forced into piano lessons, obviously.
Like, well, everybody, yeah? Yeah, and then I dropped them, like everybody, with my parents telling me, “You’ll regret this later.” I’m like, “I’m never gonna play piano. I want drums.” And then we couldn’t have drums because it was too loud, so I got an electric guitar. And then I covered every single Blink-182 song that ever existed for years. And then got a drum kit and then played drums. I dabbled in everything.
And then at some point, I let go of Blink and started listening to [other] music…But when you’re young, you’re obsessed with one thing and then you’re just stuck on that. Then I kind of discovered different genres and areas of music [like] the production side of things.
Like what? All the EQs and the filters and reverbs and all the effects and how music is treated. And the history of music is interesting too, how music changes or comes with different drugs or different movements. It’s so cool.
You’ve got a really strong musical background. It allows me to be sneaky. Like, I’m composing and in the back of my head, I’m thinking of ADD people and thinking of syncs, you know? How will this fit in a scene? So I’m not creating strategically, but it’s always in the back of my head. I’m always considering all aspects of where the music is going to be played or placed.
Really? Like, the venues…Well if you look at U2, they make arena rock and it’s now a genre because they only play arenas. So it’s like high reverbs and big delays and big echoes.
And it works brilliantly. It works for those kinds of venues. So if you create that music, then that’s your tour. You’re saying, “Well, I’m doing arena rock, so pay me a million a show.”
What venue are you creating for? I’m just creating music that I like and that resonates with me and the music that comes out naturally. But it kind of works for outdoor festivals like this, I think.
I think it works for festivals, but it also sounds amazing when listening to it with earbuds. There’s so much going on. It’s very sophisticated. That’s the attention to details. It’s like if you’re singing a line and you know that for 10 seconds, it’s kind of the same thing. You realize that at the fifth second, you should put a pitch in your voice or a twist that brings the attention back for ADD person that is listening.
Tell me a little bit about the song Coastline. It’s [addressing] conflicting ideas of living a healthy, sane life and growing weed and having kids and having dogs and paying attention to your wife and your kids. Versus living your dreams and being a rock star…Right now, I kind of want to do it and live it fully and be 100 percent in it. But it’s always those conflicting ideas of staying home versus going away, or staying in a relationship versus being free.
Follow Geoffroy at geoffroymusic.com