Shardul Pandey: I welcome you Erik at SANGKRIT, please tell our netizens about yourself, your story.
Erik Mongrain: Well that’s a long story but I can try to make it short! I started playing guitar when I was age 14. Prior to that, I was into sports only. That quickly changed with the music coming in and I learned all the grunge music from the 90s that you can think of! Also played some Metallica, Pink Floyd or really anything that I enjoyed listening to. After a few years that was not enough and I discovered J.S. Bach and his work for the lute transcribed for the guitar. Played a lot of that for a year, taught myself how to read music and moved on to instrumental acoustic music after listening to Don Ross. Michael Hedges came into my life when I was around 20 years old and everything changed. His approach was and still is extraordinary and I learned everything I could for a few years.
Around 23 years old I started composing the first songs for my first album , ‘’Fates’’. I was busking in the streets back then and I met 2 great people, Ben and Josée. We became friends and , even though they never were managers in the past, they proposed to manage my career that was beginning. I just went onto a TV show here in Quebec and things were slowly happening for me! YouTube came out, we put a few videos there and everything went nuts! I was not prepared for it all but I did my best. From that point, it went slowly but surely upwards. I record ‘’Equilibrium’’ in 2008 and ‘’Forward’’ in 2012. I am now working on my 4th album which should be out in 2014 if everything goes well! I am now without managers (things went sour after a few years and I figured I would be better off on my own ) and things have slowed down a bit, so I’ve started giving Skype guitar lessons and am trying to fund my career in various ways including the IGG campaign. It ends on September 2nd!
Shardul Pandey: You said you are working on your fourth album, so how far have you reached, what songs you have already recorded for this album ?
Erik Mongrain: I haven’t recorded any songs for my 4th album yet, but I have 3 composed already. I am a rather slow composer, it takes me on average about 3 months to complete 1 song! I should have around 8-9 by the end of 2014. There is ‘’Atlas’’ , ‘’Helios’’ and ‘’Tempo’’. ‘’Atlas’’ and ‘’Helios’’ are sort of linked together, both by the technique used and the feelings expressed. Think of them as point A to point B. ‘’Tempo’’ is nearly finished and it’s a song influenced by my Italian counterparts Stefano Barone & Pino Forastière.
Shardul Pandey : So what makes your endeavors unique ?
Erik Mongrain: I have always been an authentic person, I never hide behind masks. That also comes true when we talk about my music! I think what make one artist unique is if that artist creates with his own voice. As long as you don’t just reproduce the same thing over and over with different colors, or just copy something you’ve heard without research, I think you’re always going to make something unique.
Shardul Pandey: Have you made any new plans for an international tour on your skyline?
Erik Mongrain: Not at the moment, no. Hopefully some European dates in 2014 though!
Shardul Pandey: What is your foremost experience as an artist ?
Erik Mongrain: My most important experience as an artist would probably be the discovery of the acoustic guitarist Michael Hedges when I was 20 years old. It changed my vision of music, creativity and opened many doors for me.
Shardul Pandey: What you feel is your strength as a performer and how would you like to be remembered ?
Erik Mongrain: I think that my authenticity and high regard for details while on stage are my best assets out there. I am a perfectionist! I try to compete only with myself, not the others. I would vastly prefer to be remembered as one of the most creative innovators in the world of acoustic guitar music rather than the best or fastest player.
Shardul Pandey: I am open for interviewing all those individuals who opt internet as their place of doing business, What is your opinion for continuing this ?
Erik Mongrain: I think the internet has brought artists in general a lot of good things! We can now express ourselves and manage for the most part everything from home, on our own , with no labels or big companies dictating our every move. We are free to try and create mostly!
It also brought onto the table new problems as well though. Piracy, an overload of content from every sides (public has a short attention span overall now, they move on quickly to the newest thing), countless social medias.. It’s not exactly easy to get the hang of it all and times are, in my opinion, much harder than they were a few years ago.
More freedom does not always mean more revenues or more popularity!
I say don’t give up and find the right balance for you. Follow your heart!
Shardul Pandey What is your ultimate message for netizens ?
Erik Mongrain: Life happens only once and we have no rewind button so, don’t get through it living it as a corporation.