Interview with Karine Sauvé

Cplm camille gladu-drouin
© Camille Gladu-Drouin

Chansons pour le musée is a show that’s available in several formats, including a podcast and an album. Can you tell us about these various forms and the motivation behind this multi-faceted project?

For me, motivations often emerge from silence. Amid the fullness of life, I make room for it, I invite it in, the better to hear myself. In the spring of 2020, two months before the planned release of our show, the pandemic disrupted my routine, calmed the incessant hum of the city, and allowed me to notice all sorts of new birds. Listening to them attentively, from near to far, expanded the landscape, opened my ears a notch. I wanted to incorporate that into Chansons pour le musée, to take advantage of it to thicken its sounds to the point of distance, to intensely sculpt its textures with the electricity of our synthesizers, and for my voice to nestle in the hollow of the ear, intimately close to the listener.

The result was a three-part podcast, superbly polished in the studio; new insights to be injected into the upcoming show; a rich and ongoing partnership with my remarkable associates Anne-Marie Guilmaine, Nicolas Letarte and David Paquet; and a new and fertile collaboration with none other than Navet Confit, who produced the whole thing. Our enthusiasm also led us to record the album Chansons pour le musée, to let our tunes unfold so that you can dance and sing with us in your living room.

By creating our theatre for the ears, we paved the way for the crazy electro-theatrical concert we can now offer you.

Over time and through the various redesigns, have you found a new element of meaning in the show?

Yes: the notion of permissions to be.

In December 2020, when we presented our podcast at a listening session at the NAC French Theatre and then talked to the audience, I realized that the show was very much about the permissions to be that we can give ourselves—permissions that break down the confining walls of convention, that do no harm to anyone and might do some good. Permission to be shapeless, fragile or stripped down at times, like the museums Karine-pas-Sauvé visits, which allow her to experience and process uncomfortable states. Permission simply to sing in a public place, like someone whistling on a bicycle who makes us smile as they go by; permission to get dirty while handling a large lump of clay because we’re excited to know that it will receive us, that we will even leave traces on it. An audience member pointed out that these games are natural in childhood and that we tend to abandon them as we grow up. In favour of what? A repetitive range, a scenario that we accept as real and that we replay over and over again to be sure of performing the role we’ve chosen for ourselves? I believe there are healthy games, open forms that have the power to forge a new relationship with others or with oneself. Games that are rooted in relaxation, not far from clowning, from the strangeness that shifts the gaze, from open vulnerability. The skeleton–psychologist, with the treatments it proposes, seems to think so too.

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