Yann Falquet

Boxwood Conversations
Boxwood Conversations
Yann Falquet

From our August 31st 2020 Artist Huddle with Yann Falquet.


CHRIS NORMAN:  Hi, I’m Chris Norman and you’re listening to Boxwood’s Artist Huddle – Conversations. Our August 31st 2020 Artist Huddle featured the brilliant Québécois guitarist and singer Yann Falquet.  Yann and I chatted about his career spanning jazz, Irish, and Québécois music, his work with Genticorum, the McDades, and many other collaborators.  And he shared some beautiful arrangements of traditional songs from Québec.  I began asking about his start studying jazz and visual arts.

YANN FALQUET:  One of my teachers kind of turned me onto jazz and I thought that’s a really good avenue, a direction to take with guitar and that’s what led me to, when it was time to actually go to college, to go into jazz.  So, I went to Concordia University in Montreal.  They had a program that I could get in to.  I actually did visual arts for a year in college before switching to jazz, and went through my three years and that was really the culmination of my jazz career.  I went up to college and as I was there my interests just dove, and I discovered Irish sessions about that same time so that could be linked.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yann, is that when you started playing with the McDades?

YANN FALQUET:  Well, it was a few years after that.  Also, they are from Alberta and a bunch of them moved to Montreal to go to McGill.  So, a different college, and they also went to jazz school.  So, I think they knew when they were looking for a guitar player, “Oh Yann plays Celtic music but he’s also done some jazz, so it could be a good match.”  It was a few years after I was done with school, I had not done jazz for a few years and had started to play with a few trad bands by then.  Amazing musicians.  So versatile musicians, fantastic jazz musicians who also played Celtic music since they were kids playing with family bands.

CHRIS NORMAN:  After that, you began the Genticorum project, is that right?  After the McDades?

YANN FALQUET:  It was in fact before the McDades.  I had started with Genticorum, I had started in 2000, and this is the 20th anniversary of Genticorum this year.


YANN FALQUET:  Yes, we had a bunch of concerts planned for that, which are not happening.  We just did a very similar kind of Zoom meeting call with the three current members, one past member – Alex – and an interviewer who interviewed us and it will be put into some kind of short documentary with bits of archive footage and photos.  Which you guys will all be able to see I think, at some point, maybe in September.   So, we’re celebrating that.  We started in 2000 and I remember it was maybe 2000 and 2 or 3 when the McDades reached out to me, and I started to tour with them, but it was a weird situation because I had my band, my own band that I started with my friends and even though the McDades were far more advanced musicians and advanced in their careers and really knew how the business worked.  And as soon as I started to play with them, you know, I had to buy a flight case for my guitar.  I remember very well, I ordered it from Myhres Music in Edmonton, one of these thick Calton cases.  Because I had to fly with them, I had never flown with my guitar.  And it was great, it felt very professional, but at the same time, my band, I had to make a decision at some point.  To play full time with them or with my group and it was a gamble that I would leave the really good, advanced band and go with my band that was picking up slowly, and I knew that would work at some point and it would be my own project and I would feel, you know, I felt I had invested so much and I told the McDades when there was a crosswire both bands were taking too much time that sadly I would just stay with Genticorum and I’m really glad I did.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, I know the feeling. Exactly my own experience, for a period of time I was playing in Skyedance with Alasdair Frasier and I was playing with the Baltimore Consort doing early music and I’d started the Chris Norman Ensemble and it was just insane, you know, traveling.  All three were touring internationally and it was absolutely mind numbing to try to keep it all together.  You do have to focus at a certain point.

YANN FALQUET:  And when you start the music, that’s what your goal is, you want to play more and more.  You can’t even imagine at some point it will be too much but that point arrives pretty quickly where it’s just unhealthy, it’s just not good for your music or for your career so you’re not prepared to make these choices.  And I think in retrospect I did the right choice and you know, I think it’s a good thing for musicians to think about.  We’re so hungry to play more that we don’t even know what to do when we arrive to the point where we play enough.

CHRIS NORMAN:  That’s right, I mean there’s something to be said for focus as well because, at least for myself I just felt like I was casting the net far too wide.  So nowadays Genticorum is still going strong.  You’re also collaborating with some other wonderful musicians.  Of course, with Natalie [Haas], and DuoDuo, that’s a going concern is it not?

YANN FALQUET:  Yeah, it’s a band that started at Boxwood in fact.  That first time when both Natalie, Nic [Gareiss], Maeve [Gilchrist] and I were there together in, I forget the name of the church, but I remember very well in my head which one it is.  We were just down in the basement putting together a few songs and thought let’s just combined forces and it’s been a fun thing.  But moving to Summerville has been really good music-wise.  There’s so many good musicians, so both kind of more casually ‘cause there’s all these sessions here, there’s these fantastic musicians that are really under the radar, some of them have never recorded and they’re some of the best Irish musicians I’ve heard that I’ve got to play with and really enjoy it.  And also I’ve started to tour a little bit with Seamus Egan in the last few years.  In fact, I was on a flight to Portland Oregon on March 13th for a tour with Seamus and as I landed, I had a text from him that the tour was cancelled.  The world has changed, just go back home right now.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, we were all mid-tour at that point.  I was just on my way back from Australia and New Zealand.  But Yann, are you still playing the same guitar you were playing a few years ago when we last met up?  I loved that guitar and I just wanted to ask you to tell us a little more about that guitar.

YANN FALQUET:  Yeah, it has a bunch of new scratches, you see here, and a hole here.  It’s terrible because it’s a really good guitar.  But it’s made by a good friend of mine, a fantastic guitar player himself that plays Celtic guitar called Jordan McConnell.  Jordan has toured with a band called the Duhks.  I don’t know if any of you have seen the Duhks over the years, they’re not active now.  They stormed the music scene in 2010, I guess, something like that.  So, I knew him, I guess, just from we were always in the same festival.  There’s a documentary about Genticorum, I was just talking about.  I just opened boxes of old film photography, photos I had printed but never looked at in years and years and was looking for good things to include and I found I bunch of pictures from that era and we were always with the Duhks.  So, I got know Jordan pretty well, he would come and stay with me in Montreal and at the same time as he played guitar, and he plays pipes also pretty well, he had started to build guitars.  He had built his own guitar which I always saw and thought it was a fantastic guitar, and he always nagged me, sometime you should buy, not buy, you should let me build you a guitar, and they’re not cheap guitars.

YANN FALQUET: [Sings his version of Belle Alouette Grise a traditional song from Brittany which Yann updated and expanded]

CHRIS NORMAN:  To hear the complete Artist Huddle with Yann, among many others, and to receive my regular Tune of the Month videos, subscribe to us on Patreon at patreon.com/boxwood  We’re grateful to you for your support and to Canadian Heritage, the Provence of Nova Scotia, and Culture Ireland.  Thanks for listening.