Dive into Sagapool

Nestled in between the St. Lawrence River and the Rivieres-des-Prairies lies the bustling metropolis of Montreal.

The city is the second-largest city in Canada, a cultural mosaic where various colours and sounds co-exist in harmony. The city can also lay claim to a bustling, world-class music scene. When they are not selling out international tours, Arcade Fire still calls the city home, and Montreal also has a somewhat underappreciated roots music scene featuring bands like The Jimmyriggers.

Falling somewhere in the midst of all of these labels and genres so freely tossed about lies folk-inspired band Sagapool. But if you are thinking of folk music in the traditional connotation of the word (a guy sitting on a stool playing an acoustic guitar in a smoky coffee house), you had best think again.

Perhaps progressive-folk is a more accurate term?

Much like the city they currently call home, Sagapool’s six members hail from different parts of the world including Hungary and Italy and that diversity ultimately helps give the band its unique sound. The group was conceived in the hallway of a Montreal music conservatory but there has never really been anything “typical” about the band. Their instrumentation includes double bass, banjo, clarinet, accordion and guitar and manages to blend musical influences as diverse as their respective backgrounds into something that is ultimately unforgettable.

“I think that Montreal and all of the fabrics that are woven throughout the city have played a role in shaping our sound but I feel as though each of us playing with other bands is an almost bigger factor,” Sagapool’s Alexis Dumais says. “We all bring different influences like jazz, world music, rock and rap to the table and I think that shows in our music.

“For each of us in the band, we feel as though Sagapool is one of the only creative projects that we have where everybody feels comfortable bringing what they are listening to or what they playing with others to the table. Each of us learned a lot in school but there is almost no substitute for playing music with other bands.”

For their newest record, their fourth, Sagapool made a conscious decision to pursue a more intimate sounding record which inadvertently lead to darker tones being heard in their music that had not previously shone through.

“I feel that our previous record was in this middle ground between being very personal yet very cinematic, while our new record is almost all very cinematic. It is somewhat inevitable that a cinematic record is going to sound a little more moody and be a little more profound.”

Dumais says the darker sound has been well-received by audiences thus far, and they weren’t worried the slight change in sound might adversely turn off their audience.

“It is a less up-tempo album but at the end of the day, as a musician, you have to go with what feels right in your gut and stick to your guns,” Dumais says.

“This was the first time that we had really conceived a record that was so personal. We have never felt compelled to pursue a specific direction with our music and while I think we appreciate there would be some risks associated with releasing a ‘dark’ record when compared to our other albums, it paid off.

“And when you go with your gut and stick to your vision of what you were after as a band, the gratification is so much better.”

Article published in April 16, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript