This article was originally published on Respect My Region
Troops start lining up outside the Wiltern well in advance of showtime on most evenings. Over the weekend, however, Koreatown’s Art Deco landmark opened its doors earlier than usual for the ultimate hipster extravaganza: one band, two shows and over three hours of music.
This Saturday (November 4), just hours before the country turned back its clocks, Men I Trust performed to a sold-out crowd in Los Angeles as part of their 25-date North American Tour. Then, a few hours later, they ran it back and did it all over again till the cusp of midnight.
Inside the venue and across the pond of grinning attendees swaying from side to side like Stevie Wonder during an acceptance speech stood the Canadian trio, inflated to a five-piece for their stage act. Notwithstanding their (aptly) minimal stage presence, they’ve always managed to breathe life into those who’ve settled into a state of lethargy from the band’s reliable caress, now synonymous with their identity.
Singer, guitarist and Men I Trust brand ambassador Emmanuelle Proulx has a feathery voice and restrained body language that belies her control of the room. With sustenance from bassist Jessy Caron and keyboardist Dragos Chiriac, she gently powers through each set with a whispering confidence and hushed conviction.
In late 2021, the group released their fourth LP, Untourable Album, and went on tour soon after. What initially seemed like a self-imposed constraint was in fact a premature submission to the circumstances under which it was made.
Untourable Album is a compelling title, especially since you hit the road less than a month after it was released. Tell me a little about how you conceived the idea and if there’s a central theme you worked toward while recording it.
Dragos (D): The name Untourable Album came as we worked on the record during the pandemic. All shows were cancelled or postponed, so we assumed we wouldn’t be able to tour for the release — we wrote the music without a tour in mind. Some songs are a bit more soundscapy, introspective and darker than our usual compositions. Time, childhood and past homes are central themes.
It’s been two years since your last full-length album. Considering the group has been performing some unreleased songs over this trek, is it fair to assume that you have a new tracklist in the works?
Jessy (J): Yes! We will be taking a break from our heavy touring schedule in 2024 to concentrate on recording our next album. We’re super excited to have some time off next year to work full time on new material.
You have a well-established, recognizable sound. Is it tough to find a balance between sustaining your brand and trying new things?
Emmanuelle (E): Our sound is a result/consequences of the workflow between the three of us. We always allowed ourselves to navigate between genres and inspirations such as trip-hop, indie rock, pop, jazz, classical ballads, electronic music, dance, disco etc. without it feeling like a lack of style or an incoherent compilation of different sounds. This balance feels natural and we don’t think that trying new things could impact our sound negatively.
The group recently crossed over into the hip-hop space by working with Joey Bada$$. To that point, would you ever consider making the first move and recruiting an MC to lay vocals over a Men I Trust song?
D: We’re big fans of hip-hop and old gritty samplers. The collaboration with Joey Bada$$ came up really nicely. Our song “Show Me How” has a strong hip-hop-inspired drum groove and Joey’s flow on the instrumental felt super tight and natural. We’ve been talking about releasing an old school hip-hop record a lot recently, when our schedule gets a bit more relaxed in the future.
Do you ever catch yourself in the middle of working on a song or project and think, “We’ve already done enough of what we’re best known for … what if we just do complete a 180?”
J: Hehe. We have a few curveballs sprinkled across our discography. “Offertorio,” “Girl,” “Introit” and “Fiero GT” are the first ones that come to mind. Usually, if we like a song, we try to release it as quick as possible, regardless of its style.
And finally — who are you listening to right now? Is there anyone you insist fans of Men I Trust check out?
E: We’re currently touring in the United States with our friends, TOPS. We’ve been watching their shows pretty much each night and were already big fans of their music prior to this tour. Their whole discography is amazing! We’re also friends and fans of Michael Seyer, who makes incredibly relaxed music and has toured with us twice in the US as well. You should definitely check both out!