Siou Deslongchamps | Emotion on the microphone, Clémence in the heart

Thanks to his collaboration with the musician and director Éric Goulet, the camelot of The Itinerary Siou Deslongchamps managed to put to music songs written for him by Clémence DesRochers. A tour de force for this man struggling with an autism spectrum disorder, who thus concludes a creative process born from a magical correspondence initiated with the great Clémence.

Clémence DesRochers met Siou Deslongchamps when she was godmother of Impatients, an organization that helps people with mental health problems through artistic expression. It was following a performance by Siou at the La Tulipe cabaret in 2012 that she suggested he start a correspondence. The singer-songwriter sends her a first poem, followed by five others, which Siou puts into song, in the hope of singing them on stage in front of her friend.

Canceled due to the pandemic, a first show planned at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde will ultimately take the form of a small collection of texts and images, Clemence and Iwhich was the subject of an article in The Press in May 2022.

Just a few years ago, Siou probably would have left it at that. But the recent discovery that he was living with autism spectrum disorder literally transformed him. “I was too caught up in my problem, it was overwhelming me, so I had no way of thinking about anything else,” admits the man who believed he was struggling with a generalized anxiety problem.


Siou Deslongchamps

In my twenties, at the age when we normally plan for the future, I was not able to do that, there was a black wall in front of me.

Siou Deslongchamps

His book Clemence and I is already a testimony to his resilience and perseverance, but he considered that a book was a bit short as a vehicle for songs.

From here, we must be perfectly transparent: Siou Deslongchamps followed a writing course at The Press under the supervision of the author of these lines and we have kept in touch. He asked me to give him a helping hand; a friend introduced us to Éric Goulet, leader of the group Les Chiens and director of numerous albums, including some by Vincent Vallières, Michel Rivard and Amélie Veille. A few weeks later, we found ourselves in the musician’s Montreal studio, rue Atateken.


Éric Goulet listens to Siou Deslongchamps.

“It’s projects like this that appeal to me the most,” recognizes Éric Goulet, who also has a career under the name Monsieur Mono. Because it represents meetings. The reason why I do this job and the way I do it is for meetings. »

Not to mention that it involved recording unreleased songs written by Clémence DesRochers. “It’s golden material, precious material,” insists Éric Goulet. So it’s great to be at the juncture of a meeting like this and to have the chance to help make it a whole. »

Ball of emotion

The five songs recorded in two days in the studio allow us to discover Siou as an excellent melodist, coupled with an extremely sensitive performer. “Emotion comes to me on its own, I’m a ball of emotion,” Siou tells us, laughing during lunch. I just needed to take a step back, the break does me good. The emotion shouldn’t be too intense, because it could block me. »

On edge, Siou appears clearly fragile behind the microphone. A quality, according to Éric Goulet. “I’m like a hunter-gatherer, in the sense that I have to do the best I can with the materials I have on hand. In this case, we have great material with a performer who is a little more fragile. The work, at that time, is to reassure the artist so that it is not an effort for him to do that. »

Siou is a good performer, believes the director. “He has emotion, sometimes maybe too much. But you know, there are people who would kill their mother to have a tenth of that emotion when they sing! »

“Imagine: 10 years ago, when I started doing my music therapy sessions, it was 10 times more than that,” adds Siou. I was completely upside down at the end, I had it all over my body, it invaded me, I needed to express myself. »

Especially since for Siou, expressing oneself in this way is also a way of entering into relationships with others. “I had trouble reaching out to others,” he admits. Then when I started to make artistic choices, I realized that others came to me first, contact became easier. People often come up to me and tell me that it touched them. It makes me feel good too. »


Siou Deslongchamps at work

An autistic person can have many abilities, but there are things that block him socially. But if society opens up to him, if we understand better what autism is, we will hire him, we will see that he is good, but we will arrange the space for him.

Siou Deslongchamps

Progress and projects

If he recorded his songs because, first and foremost, he wanted to be able to have Clémence DesRochers listen to them, it is also a new exercise that proves beneficial for his confidence. “I am here and I find myself courageous. It doesn’t seem like much, but people don’t know what I went through, he tells us. At first, I felt like I was forgetting all about the progress I was making. But I started thinking about the image of the spiral: I may think I’m going in circles, but I’m progressing little by little. I’ll look for a little more each time. »

The models made with Éric Goulet could therefore serve as a business card, Siou imagining himself giving small shows for charitable organizations, for example. All this while waiting for the next project, because he has several in the works, in particular that of putting to music the texts entrusted to him by around twenty artists who all have in common that they have never written songs. People met at The Itinerary or the Impatients, including playwrights, a choreographer, a dancer, a director, but also the actor James Hyndman, the drummer Michel Langevin, from Voivod, the singer Danielle Oddera and the late graffiti painter Zïlon. We promise to keep you informed!

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