P&C interview: Flying Hórses / by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Björk Óskarsdóttir

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Jade Bergeron, also known as Flying Hórses is, in few words, is a Canadian composer and a multi-instrumentalist. Bergeron’s background is an interesting one, but growing up in the Montréal metal scene and living in Iceland for four years are a couple of factors that have influenced her work. Her second full-length album Reverie was released on February 22nd on Canadian label Bonsound, and is already making its mark on popular playlists of the largest streaming platforms.

Can you tell us a bit about your musical background?

I didn't grow up playing classical music. I was immersed in the Montreal metal scene and spent my high-school years playing heavy music. I'm the only musician in my family, and so I really had to make my own musical connections. I had to learn the tools to build my project from scratch through trial and error. It's been a really interesting and challenging learning experience, I finally feel that I have some sort of foundation to build on.

That’s an impressive story. What do you think your current music has in common with metal? Has it grown far apart at its core?

I wouldn't say that my music is metal, just like I wouldn't say that it's classical, or post-rock or ambient. I truly feel that it startles lines and blurs different styles of instrumental music together. This record feels heavier than my debut, and I certainly felt more connected to metal and post-rock roots while composing it. Icelandic winters are harsh, long and dark. I found myself feeling homesick from time-to-time and metal really grounded me when I felt that way. It's possible that my piano playing and writing was reflective of what I was listening to, or how I was feeling during that time.

When and how did you start composing music?

I started writing my debut record in 2013. I wanted to combine some of my metal/post-rock influences with the piano. It was an experimental idea, that sort of took off, I suppose. I didn't know that I would end up recording my first full-length in the Sigur Rós studio, life just sort of guided me there. I mostly compose on the piano before I include other instrumentation. I usually leave room for other instruments in my piano tracks and beds, I like the idea of the tracks being versatile.

You have been very open about the fact that Reverie is a heartbreak record. While many artists might gather their inspiration from heartbreak, it does take guts to be unambiguous about such matters and their usage in the art. Have you always been comfortable with sharing from your personal journey?

Not at all. In fact, I've very rarely discussed what my music is about, publicly before. I finally feel comfortable because we are in a day and age where mental health is finally being talked about, and people are coming to terms with the fact that there is nothing to be embarrassed or apologetic for when it comes to being sad, or our emotions in general. It makes sense that I can elaborate on what the songs mean to me, this time around.

Would you share with us some of your biggest influences for your music

Nature is foremost my biggest influence. Being near or around bodies of water, really allows me to dive into places within myself, where I can process my thoughts and emotions. On a good musical day, I can lay out some of those emotions onto my piano. I'm a very visual person, and something that I enjoy doing is composing while watching movies or documentaries on mute. Certain films trigger or channel emotions, that allow me to open up to my piano.

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I must ask. What is the connection with Iceland, and why the Icelandic titles in your previous work?

I lived in Iceland on/off for about 4 years. I'm not going to go into detail about my personal experience because I want listeners to embark on their own journeys, while listening to Reverie. All that I'd like to say is Iceland will always be my second home, and that my experience there, changed my life, forever. I have Icelandic titles on my debut record because I dedicated that album to the island, itself.

How was your experience with the Icelandic music scene? In which ways was it different for you there from Montréal?

I've always felt like a black sheep in Canada. When I first started my project there were so few instrumentalists/composers/solo-pianists performing live, that I felt very isolated in my Montreal/Ottawa community. It wasn't until I landed in Reykjavik in 2014 that I really began to feel that my music was better understood or 'fit in more' in Europe. Iceland was a stepping-stone in the realization that I could really apply certain aesthetics or performance tools to my instrumental compositions. Visual art is so alive within the Icelandic music community, and it's taught me a lot about breaking boundaries when it comes to expression and communicating sounds without vocals.

What is most important for you in a live performance? Will any of the album collaborators join you on stage on future tour-dates?

I've been performing solo for about 2.5 years now. As it stands, bringing in the cellist, Sebastian Selke, that performed on this record from Germany is proving to be a bit challenging. He's a very talented and busy musician and has worked with artists such as Ólafur Arnalds. We are currently working on some live concerts here in Canada, and I'll be announcing those soon. Regardless of whether it ends up being a solo tour or not, the session musicians that played on Reverie, are an integral part of the album and deserve recognition. My live shows vary from festival to festival and sometimes include visuals, depending on the size and structure of the venue.