Men I Trust: Between The Sonic & The Visual
by Sarah Shi, June 11th.
Men I Trust is a French-Canadian indie band producing lush and immersive soundscapes, characterized by a nostalgic and dreamy amalgamation of infectious pop melodies with strong and rhythmic baselines. The trio, composed of Emma Proulx (lead vocalist), Jessy Caron (bassist), and Dragos Chiriac (keyboardist), is truly collaborative and independent with their music, visuals, and representation. Men I Trust draws upon the strengths of each member – Emma brings her grainy voice and training in art, Jessy brings the grounding bass line and his training in jazz guitar, and Dragos brings his production, photography and sound engineering skills – to create a cohesive sound.
The stunning photography and cinematography of the groups videos are shot and edited independently, seamlessly functioning as a dialogue between the sonic and the visual. The do-it-yourself mentality of Men I Trust goes beyond the music and the visuals. The group is free from labels, publishing companies, and PR – making it a true effort from the ground-up.
The latest single from Men I Trust, Show Me How, features Emma’s leisurely croon, elevated by the paired-back dreamy guitar and rhythmic, grounding bass-line and drums. The music video for the song presents Emma in the contrasting environments of the subdued dreaminess of the day and the incandescence and flashiness of Las Vegas at night; this reflects the contrast in Emma’s contentedness in independence, and the simultaneous yearning and asking for a lover as she sings, “Show me how you care / Tell me how you were loved before.”
I spoke with Men I Trust about their latest single, Show Me How, life on tour, and working in music without a label, publishing or PR.
How did you all first get into music and start working together?
Dragos: Jessy and I started the band in 2014. We’ve been friends since high school; we used to exchange hip-hop instrumentals over MSN. One day, we bumped into each other at university (Jessy studied jazz guitar and I was studying sound engineering) and talked about making music together. At the beginning, we had guest singers performing on different songs. We met Emma in 2015, after discovering her on a friend’s social media. We really liked her soft and grainy voice, and Emma knew our band and was really excited to make music with us. We worked with her on Headroom, and we’ve been a trio ever since.
How did you come up with “Men I Trust” as your band name?
Jessy: We were looking for a band name that would convey positive values. We liked the themes of “trust” and “care”. The name “trust” was already taken. Since we were two guys at the beginning, before meeting Emma, we named the band “Men I Trust”. We also like the rhythm of three-syllable band names.
What are some of your biggest influences?
Jessy: We listen to many musical genres, but at the beginning, we were influenced by funk, disco and French electronic music.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music?
Emma: We’re inspired by things that happen to us, but also nature’s beauty. We try to avoid negative themes.
What is the creative process behind your music? Is there a kind of feeling you try to communicate?
Dragos: We usually start a draft individually, and then everyone adds something to it until it becomes a Men I Trust song. We always write about things we can relate to. Musically, we like steady & groovy rhythms, lyrical melodies that convey a sense of storyline, and round sounds.
I loved your recent single “Show Me How.” What inspired the song lyrically?
Emma: The lyrics were inspired by the music. Jessy’s guitar melodies reminded us of old nostalgic French music. It brought us memories of long distance relationships; how your mind works against you by always thinking about a person, even when you cannot be together.
Your work tends to feature quite powerful visuals – could you speak to what influences the band visually?
Dragos: We film our own music videos. The process is usually pretty straightforward. We always have a general idea about the theme of a music video (it relates to the lyrics). The storyline is usually very simple, since we’re a light crew and need to keep things achievable. We usually showcase one actor, because it’s easier to get powerful portraiture and because it’s easier to get on any site without running into security. When we film, we focus on areas and on compositions that are aesthetically pleasing. At the editing process, we trim everything several times in order to keep only the most beautiful shots. We then put them in an order that suits the rhythm of the song and its storyline.
You’ve spoken about how the band is truly an independent project: free of labels, publishing companies, and PR. What’s so important for you all about staying independent?
Jessy: At the beginning, we were looking for a label. We felt like all the successful bands were signed. But since we didn’t get industry interest straight away, we started reading about ways to manage a band. With time, we got used to doing everything by ourselves. We optimized the process so that it isn’t overwhelming, and it gives us lots of autonomy working this way. For the booking, we work with a really good team. That helps us save a lot of time, and has brought us to many new cities and venues. Admin-wise, we feel like we have a good system. Things might change in the future, but we’re really happy to be independent and aren’t looking for any labels, publishing companies, or PR.
How has being on tour been? What are some of your favorite and least favorite aspects of touring? Any memorable stories?
Emma: Touring has been wonderful so far. We really get along with each other and are constantly giggling. We honestly think that we have a dream job, because we get to see friendly people and new places. The main disadvantage is that it is harder to record and release new material while we are on tour.
We’re in the UK now. We had a 6-hour drive yesterday, so we decided to stop and do some sightseeing. We went to see a castle (we are fans of the medieval era), but ended up losing too much time in the parking lot playing with ducks and swans. When we finally arrived at the castle, it had just closed. We were bummed out at ourselves for being so negligent and decided to grab something to eat. A river surrounded the whole area, like in the stories of olden times, and we realised we could rent a small motorized boat, so we did just that. They had lots of strict security rules and had us sign a responsibility waiver, but we were able to navigate the boat. After being on the river for about 5 minutes out of the sight of the boat rental place, we were accosted by two partying British pirates on a faster boat. They threw beers in our boat for our thirsty sailing crew, and they were playing Drum & Bass loudly. We raced and laughed together for a good hour before we had to part and go on our separate ways.
What can we expect from you all down the road? Any upcoming releases?
Jessy: A new album in 2019, new tours this fall and a couple of songs and music videos meanwhile.
A big thank you to Men I Trust for taking the time to speak with us! We’re all huge fans of them here and sending us that beautiful unreleased photo made my day. If you haven’t already heard their music, please check it out; it’ll make a die-hard fan out of you as well. However, if you (like me) have already fallen down that rabbit hole, catch them on tour!
Tour dates here: http://menitrust.tumblr.com