Catching up with Pascal Lejeune

More than six years ago, Acadian singer-songwriter Pascal Lejeune began performing his songs for audiences for the first time.

Since making that fateful decision, Pascal has earned critical acclaim from around the globe for his two studio albums to date (2007’s Le commun des bordels and 2009’s Adelaide) and has ultimately emerged as one of the dominant Acadian voices within that scene today.

Pascal Lejeune is slated to perform tomorrow night at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre. Show time is 8 p.m.

Like many musicians before him, Pascal traces his love of music back to family gatherings where he says that many of the relatives on his father’s side were musically inclined.

“Everyone on my father’s side played something, whether it was guitar, violin or piano at many of our family gatherings.”

With a smile, he calls his father a hippy who listened to Jimi Hendrix back in the day but notes that his dad also enjoyed Quebecois band Harmonium. Pascal’s uncle fuelled his nephew’s musical learnings even further, introducing him to country music legends like Hank Snow and Hank Williams while also making the names of Georges Moustaki and Georges Brassens common to the youngster, helping to shape his musical future.

Closer to home, Pascal was introduced to Acadian folk heroes 1755 while in his teens and was immediately enamored with the band’s music.

“1755 definitely helped pave the way for musicians like me,” he admits. “They were a great influence upon my work because they were a part of the culture and part of something really big. They showed me that as a musician, it was just as cool to sing in French as it was to sing in English.”

Crafted while on the road supporting his debut record, Pascal’s 2009 effort Adelaide marked an important step forward for the artist:

Aside from the growth that virtually all musicians experience when setting out to make a new record, securing Yves Desrosiers to serve as the producer was a huge coup for Pascal.

A celebrated musician in his own right, Yves was responsible for the world of sounds featured on the late Lhasa’s self-titled debut effort. Pascal was so taken by the diverse sounds on Lhasa’s record that he was inspired to reach out to Yves to see if collaborating was in the cards.

“When I first heard it, I had never heard anything like Lhasa’s album before in my life. It was a rough sounding record but was very warm and all encompassing. The sounds that Yves was able to capture on that album were particularly inspiring to me.”

When it came to making his own record, Pascal says that Desrosiers was an asset to the recording process, having numerous tips to help the musician make a strong album.

“I had written the songs that would end up on the record while on the road and had done demos in a motel room that a friend of mine let me have for approximately three months.

I sent those demos to Yves, met him in Montreal and we set about making the record. Yves was definitely able to add his touch and vision to the final version of the record.”

Like the time invested promoting his debut record in 2007, Pascal admits that the last two years of his life promoting Adelaide have been largely a blur. In the time since the record was released, Pascal has been fortunate enough to tour Europe on no less than five occasions, saying that crowds there have always been pleasantly responsive to his music.

“It is definitely a good feeling and a lot of good vibes when playing for crowds in Europe,” he says. “In North America, I find that you can generally tell if an audience is liking your music by judging their response after having played the first couple of songs. In Europe though, crowds seem to be very reserved until the performance is completely finished. It is a little different for sure, but not a negative thing by any means.”

Although Pascal has successfully written songs while on tour in the past, he is looking forward to the upcoming winter months to settle down and make some serious headway on writing the follow-up record to Adelaide.

“I have about four or five songs written for my next record so far. Even though I managed to write material while on the road in the past, I do not find it a particularly inspiring place to come up with new material so I’m looking forward to hibernating for the winter and seeing what I come up with.”

Article published in November 24, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript

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