It’s the start of a new cycle for Dominique Fils-Aimé, who launches the album Our Roots Run Deep, first part of a second trilogy. When the Montreal artist describes it to us, the record sounds like a wish for kindness and acceptance, but also like an acknowledgment of the bond that unites us all.
“When you plant a seed and a plant grows, with water and sunlight, you don’t yell at it to ask why it isn’t yet a tree. We’re just happy to see her slowly growing up. Whereas towards us, we never do the same thing. We often wonder why we haven’t reached a certain stage. We should give ourselves more gentleness and empathy in relation to our personal and social evolution. »
Dominique Fils-Aimé is fascinated by nature, by plants in particular. In life as in the magnificent music video for the title song of his album, Our Roots Run Deep, Dominique Fils-Aimé surrounds himself with as much vegetation as possible. She is “amazed” by what nature can do. But also by the lessons it can give.
“I spend a lot of time with plants,” she says, sitting across from us at the Le Petit Dep café, in her corner of Montreal.
I find that there are metaphors all the time that start from nature and apply to life. And there is something right in the logic of nature.
These precepts of gentleness and patience “that plants [lui] have transmitted”, Dominique Fils-Aimé wants to share them through his music. This is what she does with Our Roots Run Deephis fourth album.
“The other thing [qui a inspiré l’album], that’s when I realized how we’re just beginning to discover how intensely the roots are connected underground, even though on the surface you see separate trees, she says. These roots function as a single brain. What if the equivalent applied to humans? We see a crowd, people who live individually. But there could be something we don’t see, the same frequency, a link that connects us all. And it seems like I feel it. »
Slow down, then start again
“After the pandemic, it’s like I forgot all the lessons I learned. We started again at a thousand miles an hour. While I had talked about taking my time. I had observed the trees growing and I said to myself that they have the right rhythm, compared to us who are hyperactive. »
When she wanted to get back to the pre-pandemic pace, her body opposed it. Back pain confined her to bed. “It gave me so much time to think, without being able to move. I tried to see how to find gratitude in that, how to reconnect, and what lesson I can learn from what was happening. »
Dominique Fils-Aimé has often spoken in his songs about the health of the spirit and the mind. “But what about the body now? she asked herself. It was non-existent. I realized it mattered. »
When his injury allowed him to sit down and get back to writing, “the songs came out suddenly.” In three or four days, everything was there. The words, the music, work already well advanced.
This is the most complete project that I presented to my director. Before I came with sketches, a chorus, a melody. There, I had everything.
“It gave a very coherent feel,” she adds. It’s not a lot of songs written in the last three years, it’s the result of a moment in time. I questioned myself afterwards, wondering if I was going to present this stream of songs. And the answer was yes, because these songs are honest, this is me, at this precise moment, where I was in my personal evolution. That’s music too. »
Arrival in the present
Our Roots Run Deep follows a trilogy, which Dominique Fils-Aimé completed in 2019. This new album is also the first part of a second set of three works. These two cycles will then be part of something even greater (which we will not reveal here), as a way of showing the inherent link between the singular and the whole.
The first three albums were associated with primary colors (blue, red, then yellow). This time the background is green, one of three secondary colors. The concepts animate the singer by giving her a very precise playing field, which she demarcates herself according to clear desires, often linked to her deep beliefs.
I always think of the whole thing first. The more I give myself a structure, a clear idea and a global vision, the more I am free to explore within these guidelines.
Dominique Fils-Aimé loves being in the studio. She tells us this several times during our meeting. She likes to spend long periods of time there, taking her time to bring the work she has imagined into the world. Always accompanied by her accomplice from the early days, the director Jacques Roy (who also mixed and provided sound for the album), this time she wanted to encapsulate on disc pieces on which jazz is an undeniable source and where its main instrument, its voice, formulates loops in harmony which cover the melodies.
“The concept of mantras, of repetition, is really important to me. Music is meditative for me and I wanted to do the same for people. By repeating short and simple sentences on my songs, it allows me to remove all the frills and keep the essentials. »
If his first three records drew on his heritage and the past, both sonically and thematically, Our Roots Run Deep is the arrival of Dominique Fils-Aimé in the present moment.
“After the first trilogy, I had a kind of mourning. Then there was the excitement of starting something new, with a lot of joy and the desire to be more courageous, more open, she says. I have always maintained a kind of modesty. And I wondered if I had gone back in time with the previous albums to buy myself some time while waiting to be able to introduce myself. I gained strength and courage in the past, and now is the real departure: here, now, me. »