By Sarina Wilson
Walking in the door, past the Mexican restaurant, and up the old wooden stairs, one wouldn’t picture this a staple venue of Montréal’s music scene. Stairs that have been repainted dozens of times, lined with gig posters and paint peeling from the walls, a testament to the sweat and tears of many musicians that have left more then their dignity on stage at La Sala Rossa. It’s only 6 in the evening, but the place is packed as spectators begin to crowd around the stage itching for a taste of Opposite Natures, Navir’s first full-length album.
The Blast, opens the show with an acoustic funk fusion that resonates throughout Le Sala Rossa. Soft but powerful lyrics combined with a killer back line highlight the exponential growth of Navir, as the vocals seem to melt into the music. Followed up by Under My Skin, a piano laced melodic tune with a killer drumbeat highlights Felix's vocal range. Sailor, a slower paced jam with a grungy twist in breakdown, again combined with the rolling drums and distorted guitar gives a very airy sound. Guild's Last Song, a shocker in the mix, opens with a groovy guitar riff backed by keys. The sweetness of this song gives way to a crunchy, darker and electronic sound as Jérémie's Nord keyboard becomes the focus. The shadowy Lion's Dance closes the night reaffirming that Navir has found their way together. Ominous keys, haunting harmonies, and spaced out guitar solos make for a perfect close. Leaving the crowd screaming for an encore that was never to come, as the standard for all good things you'll have to wait.
As Navir is as busy as they are sexy I caught up with the bunch recently for a quickie question session.
Sarina - What are the humble beginnings of Navir? What vibe were you trying to create in the early days playing together?
Tell me a bit about the evolution from the Navir EP to Opposite Natures, both as a band and musical style?
Things did change between our EP (2013) and Opposite Natures (2016), first of all we individually grew stronger and more confident as musicians, we feel each other’s vibe way better now. On the EP, there are some songs we love, songs we might even bring back in a future album, and it’s always great to listen to it once in a while. For us, Opposite Natures marked the beginning of a new era: we had a pre-production, we took the time to arrange the songs exactly like we wanted them and were starting to become a professional band. In this album, there is a story being told from the first song to the last; it’s a musical odyssey. We’re really proud of it.
Recording in the legendary studio Grand Lodge No24 must have been incredible. Did you have a general idea of the flow for the new album? Or did it all come together in this magical place?
We had an idea of what we wanted, the songs were tightly arranged and everyone knew exactly what their job was. Grand Lodge brought a vibe, a sound, a harmony between the songs and between the band members. It made the recording an experience for all of us. And yes it is magical, and probably haunted too!
Being cooped up in Grand Lodge No 24 for 10 days straight definitely lead to some shenanigans. Is there a prankster among the group? A member that always forgets things? Any funny stories you want to share?
Jérémie was singing back vocals and had to stop because Donald scared him saying "who’s that guy right behind you?!" He was sure there was a spirit looking at him from behind, and he threw his headset away and ran upstairs to be "safe"with us. It’s an old Masonic temple. Shit’s shady as fuck.
Félix recorded the lyrics of A Sailor’s and the guitar solo in Lion’s Dance while completely, utterly naked.
Sarah is a strong little woman; she even recorded 2-3 tracks while fighting a losing war against food poisoning and/or gastroenteritis.
There was enough room for everyone to have their own in the church basement. Donald went for the couch in the middle of the basement for some inexplicable reason.
No pranksters really, but I think there wasn’t a moment where we weren’t laughing, we had so much fun there and we really learned a lot about each other whilst definitely growing closer as a band, that’s the real magic surrounding that place.
Based in Montréal with both Francophone and Anglophone lyrics, have you faced any obstacles in writing? Is your linguistic choice conscious or instinctive?
On our EP, we do have one song with French lyrics. But on Opposite Natures, the album is completely English. In the band, we all speak French in our families and amongst ourselves, so yeah when you think about it, it’s a very unique and interesting duality that happens a lot in Montréal. When we write, it’s instinctive though, it comes from our influences, and it all comes naturally. Each song brings its own lyrics, in some way.
How did it feel to present to the world Opposite Natures at La Sala Rossa?
It was one of the best evenings of our lives, we had so much fun on stage. I think the fans really felt how deeply happy and satisfied we all were: each time we would look at each other, there was a big smile. People reacted really well to the music, and more than half of the audience left with a copy of the album in hand, which exceeded our expectations. It’s always a great feeling to know that people will be listening to the album in their car, in their house or while they’re jogging you know, now that they have the album it becomes a soundtrack to their life and we feel that it’s a great accomplishment.
Where are you looking to break into next? (hint hint)
Maritimes. We are coming for you.
What’s your summer looking like, touring or upcoming shows?
Our summer is going to be pretty busy and we couldn’t be happier! We keep all the dates and details on our website (www.navirmusic.com ) and on our Facebook page. For the moment, we have dates in Gatineau, Québec City, Frelighsburg, Saint-Lambert, couple of shows in Montréal and even NYC this fall.
While on tour what is your favourite song to sing loudly in the car?
TheProclaimers: 500 miles (The song that became famous for being the one song stuck in Marshall’s car in the popular series How I Met Your Mother )
If we’re not listening to that, Jérémie does the DJ, and it goes from 90’s punk-rock, to 50’s blues, passing by Sting and Radiohead, going to hardcore Alexisonfire kinda stuff, jazz, a LOT of pop. Anything goes!
Where would you love to tour if you could go anywhere?
First, Canada of course! Our home and native land... After that, we’d love to tour in the U.K, that would just be an outstanding achievement for us.
Using 4 words only describe each band member?
Sarah : Heavy-drumming Mexican
Donald: Groovy finance manager
Jérémie : Red-headed sound geek
Félix : Beige poet
What’s the favorite drink of Navir?
Beer for everyone, and a daily Gatorade for Jérémie.
Choose a 80’s or 90’s movie that describes the band and the members?
I want to thank Navir for taking the time to give NoisographyMTL some insight into the magic that they bring with their music. You can follow on Navir Music, and Facebook Make sure you check out the rest of the photos via Opposite Natures Album Launch on Flikr.