I was first introduced to Umany by my friend Marianne on my first visit to Montréal in 2005. She invited me to a benefit concert that she helped organize in Terrebonne, just outside of Montréal, the proceeds and charity donations from which were going to Africa.
Umany released their first single and played to a full auditorium of all ages. Their hip, folky rock moved the whole room out of their seats to dance along to their captivating songs. Their music was harmonious and up-beat, the French lyrics serious and thought-provoking, the musicians and vocalists exceptionally skillful, and the lead singer, Paul Sareault charmed the whole auditorium with his voice and charismatic personality.
In 2008, I caught up with the band again after their first album release and concert at Sala Rossa in Montréal. The band teamed up with a female singer, Marie-Myëlle, a talented, local musician and cello player. The new album no longer had the multiple folky, acoustic guitars and harmonized vocals of the first single, but was more hard-rock, mixed with some strings and alternating vocals by Paul and Marie-Myëlle, rocking out to a full venue.
This fall the band is back with a new single and plans to release their second album. Paul and Joel were kind enough to take the time to share some stories with me:
How did the band originate, how has it evolved over time, and who of the original band members is still around?
It all started as a high school project, but when we realized it was actually good, we just kept going and Umany was born. Umany worked with a lot of musicians over the years. For the second album Paul Sareault is working with two talented musicians, Joel Claveau and Christian Collin.
How did you come up with the band name and what does it signify?
The name was found by Umany’s first bassist and when Paul saw it written on a piece of paper he just felt that this simple word was resuming the meaning of his creation.
What was the first song Umany released?
“L’élu” was the first single released.
Your songs are often political and carry messages of global awareness and sustainability, what are some of your beliefs and values, and how do they get expressed in your songs?
We really believe in human kind. We believe in its strength to be united to change the world for a better one. We believe that love is the key.
How did the collaboration with Marie-Myëlle come about?
Myëlle came one day to assist with one of our jam session. At the next one she came back to announce us that she was now officially part of the band… As soon as she started to sing, we all knew she had her place among us. Now Myëlle is working on her solo career and things are going very well for her!
Where do you record your albums?
The first album was recorded at Audiopact Record Studio. Currently we are working at our own studio in Terrebonne.
What is your favourite venue to play? What would be your dream concert venue?
We really enjoyed the Club Soda and Le Théâtre du Vieux Terrebonne. And if one day the opportunity comes up we wouldn’t say no to a show in Central Park!
What are your fans like?
We like to think they are people of all ages and cultures since those are the people we want to make music for.
Do you have a day job? What do you do when you’re not making/writing music?
My drummer Joel and I are working behind the scene as stage technicians.
What are some sources of inspiration for you?
This will probably sound “cliché” but for us life itself is a great source of inspiration. By that we mean things like, human relationships, family, love, war, injustice etc… There are so many things we want to say and express that, to this day, inspiration never ran out for us.
What is the new single?
We recently released “La Voie Est Libre”
What’s next for Umany?
A new album is coming soon, as well as a video clip and many many shows around the world! #gottathinkbig #crossedfingers
Since my first visit to Montréal and the concert in Terrebonne eight years ago, Umany has become part of my soundtrack for this city. Their music has evolved and diversified, they introduced a few English lyrics into their songs, and now speak to Montréal’s multi-lingual inhabitants in new ways. But the core values of the band remain unchanged. Their wisdom lies in knowing that music and lyrics, unlike any other form of narrative art, get straight to your emotional intelligence before they reach the rational part of the brain. And what better way to deliver messages of inspiration for a better world than aiming straight for the heart?
Don’t miss Umany live at Pub Saint-Ciboire (1693 rue Saint-Denis), in Montréal on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013!