By Judah Schulte
When the Montreal-based three piece isn’t touring across continents, Jessy Caron (bass), Dragos Chiriac (keys), and Emma Proulx (guitar and vocals) are hard at work recording, producing, and releasing singles and music videos to promote their upcoming album Oncle Jazz, which is set to release this month. From mastering tracks to coordinating interviews, the group handles everything except booking shows, reminding us that “indie” is short for “independent.” For a band with such a heavy workload, their sound is impressively light. Their blissed-out brand of indie-pop has lyrics rich enough to dissect and rhythms that make your hips move, satisfying both body and mind. For the members of Men I Trust, the lightness is not just an aesthetic choice but a philosophy, one that explains how they can keep their cool amongst so much bustle.
“We like to put an emphasis on positive values, something higher than us, instead of destructive moods, which we all like, but it’s trickier to write other types of songs. It’s a challenge to not be obviously negative,” says Proulx.
The intention they invest in the content of their songs extends also into the process of writing them. “Overall, we don’t want to write lyrics about things that don’t happen to us, like pick a theme and write about it. That would be too weird,” says Proulx. “When a story is more personal, it’s brought up by just one of us. But once we all start working on the song, the general questions are brought out of the personal experience, making it a bit more philosophical.”
By filtering personal experience through the lens of each member’s perspective, MIT’s songs are at once intimate and universal, the result of three minds working toward the same end, like three separate notes coming together to make a chord.
Whether it’s the lyrics, guitar tones, or music videos, everything the band releases seems to exist in the same dreamy universe. In the video for “Seven,” the images of young women gliding along a river in kayaks are superimposed over shots of a lush, sun-dappled forest. With the same grace, the guitar on “I Hope to Be Around” glitters atop a textured synth bass line. This consistency is indebted in part to the band’s multi-disciplinary interests. Proulx studied art in university, Chiriac studied philosophy, and Caron studied jazz, all informing, in one way or another, the sound, image and ideals of the band. These varied interests combined with an uncompromised independence is what upholds the cohesiveness of their work. “We do everything together. When we’re filming videos, we’re together; on tour we’re driving and sound checking together. But we’re not against the idea of a label,” says Proulx. “In the beginning, not many people had an interest in us, so we learned to do everything ourselves. When you’re so involved in the process, you don’t lose anything. We know everything that’s going on with the band, and that helps us stay grounded.”
Aside from their ideology, the band cites nature as a major source of inspiration. MIT has a cabin they go to near Chaudière-Appalaches, a mountainous region in Quebec, where they recorded many of their songs and filmed the video for “Tailwhip.” But even on the road, the group seeks greenery to decompress and recollect. “While we’re on tour we like to stop in quiet, wide open spaces,” says Proulx. These landscapes seem to come through into their music, each song feeling as easy and free as a breath of fresh air.
With upcoming tours through Europe and North America, as well as the release of a new album in April, the members of Men I Trust show no signs of slowing down. And thanks to the balance they’ve struck between thoughtful lyricism, simple but infectious rhythms, and an impenetrable sense of mellow, we can do just that: slow down and appreciate the sounds of art, nature, and philosophy working in harmony.
Men I Trust play the Biltmore Cabaret on February 22Biltmore Cabaret, Indie Pop, men i trust, Montreal