“José Louis and the Paradox of Love”: one album, two Pierre Kwenders

This is his most pop album, as well as his most personal, according to Pierre Kwenders, “otherwise why call it José Louis and the Paradox of Love “,” José Louis “written in his baptistery.” This is my story that I tell, like an open book. One way of saying: take me as I am. And if you find the yourself somewhere in these songs, I’ve done a good thing. Wise, this album. The most pop, but most of all, the most dance in his discography, a disc that can be seen in a time when electronic music from the African continent finally won the favor of Western music lovers.

It took more than a sweep for this space where Pierre Kwenders gave us an appointment to be the cultural center, along with a nightclub with a terrace, which he and his team dreamed of for a few years. . The musician set up his makeshift office in a corner where audio cable boxes, stacked chairs, a faded sofa and a sound console were stacked. Three collaborators held a meeting in a large adjoining room where, thirty years ago, they welcomed dancers to this high place in the night life Montrealer which is the Di Salvio club.

“I came here, when I was twenty, Kwenders recalls. It would be nice to revive areas like that ”, albeit temporarily: the two-story building, located on boulevard Saint-Laurent, south of rue Prince-Arthur, will meet the highest number of demolition workers inside in two years. The project will have to find a new home base, ”but still, at Moonshine, we’re used to changing places! as he said, referring to the monthly and nomadic collective parties he led with friend Hervé Kalongo.

The final edition of this festival promoting diversity through music took place over the weekend – Moonshine always takes place after the full moon – in one of the main halls of the new Agora de la danse building. , at no time, formerly inhabited byafter time SONA. “It’s symbolic! said Kwenders, who, seven years ago, started these marginal celebrations that have become international brands. Moonshine events, which broadcast electronic club music inspired by music trends from Africa, the Caribbean and South America, are held in Los Angeles, Lisbon, Paris, London, New York, and other cities. The collective also offers radio programs on popular stations Rinse FM and NTS Live.

A bridge between two worlds

What is the first thing to remember José Louis and the Paradox of Love, Pierre Kwenders ’third album, is the long-awaited reunion between his two creative personalities, the singer-songwriter and the DJ. While trying to combine indie rock, electronic grooves and African musical reference on his first two albums, Kwenders is now hitting the dance floor with songs from this visionary album in his fusion of Congolese rumba, neo-R&B and house. . “I’ve really been able to reconcile these two worlds, that of Pierre-le-singer we know, and Pierre-le-DJ that many don’t know. A bridge between the two worlds.”

The affirmation was launched from the album’s opening, a long percussive house jam titled LES (Freedom Equality Sagacity), co-produced by American house veteran King Britt, with collaboration from Arcade Fire friends Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. Over a nine minute groove as an introduction, very nice! And it was intentional, testified Kwenders: “I had friends who said to me: ‘You’re crazy to do that!’ And yet, it’s something very Congolese, because on rumba albums, there’s a title song on the disc – which we call “generic” – that doesn’t last less than ten minutes.This song is one of my credits. »

Gold, past THE., softened Pierre Kwenders. Softened, however, is mixed with an electronic R&B with minimalist orchestras that, almost everywhere, evoke the better movement of the Congolese rumba. In the suspended and resounding rhythm of the ballad beaten to the heart (in the duet of singer Anaïs), as well as the very theme of light Papa Wembaa production by Tendai “Baba” Maraire, from the American experimental hip-hop project Shabazz Palaces.


Papa Wemba is an icon of Congolese rumba that Kwenders would like to pay tribute to: “He does incredible things for Congolese music, he explains. Any Congolese artist of my generation grew up with his music, the I was very inspired by her work, especially with its textures. The album also contains a tribute to her mother, who we heard wishing her son a happy birthday with a message left in his voicemail. ”Many I talked about the women in my life in my albums, Pierre Kwenders remembers.The influence of my aunts, my grandmother on me… I remember, I was in London at the age of 34and anniversary. Later, in Lisbon, with Branko [réalisateur de l’album], I had this idea to make a song to answer my mother, to talk about her love, but also to answer her doubts about my life and career choices. I, I study accounting, I have a career. So, when your son comes up to you and says “Here, I want to make music”, it’s a shock, just the same! »

It’s the huge success of this album, its ability to be as pop as it is avant-garde, as touching as it can dance. “There’s always a kind of sadness in my songs. By listening to people like Aznavour, I’m affected! Kwenders revealed. But I think there’s above all a form of joy, subtly, in this album .The joy of self -expression, of knowing that one is finally able to understand oneself, and above all, the joy of sharing it with people. »

José Louis and the Paradox of Love

Pierre Kwenders. Available on the Arts & Crafts Productions label. The launch will take place on May 6 at the Phi Center.

To be seen in the video

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