Please introduce yourself and give us a quick recap of your musical career so far!
Hey there, my name is Benjamin Piette. I have a few projects: I have a folk/rock solo career under the name of "Noé Talbot", three punk bands (Fortune Cookie Club, Super Punk and Col Rouge), and finally my new rap project under the name of Salmine. I released more than 50 albums/EPs in my career and did around 850 shows. So, the rap project was a way to try something new.
Have you always had a desire to perform hip hop and rap?
I haven't always had the desire to make a hip hop/rap project, but the idea had been brewing for the past few years. I was a French teacher and I also did workshops on spoken words in high schools. I’ve always listened to rap music though. Recently, I discovered new French pop/rap artists and I really digged their sound. It really motivated me to write rap music. So, when I met DJ Horg (the beatmaker on the album), I jumped on the occasion to give it a shot. Song after song I think I got better, and I also had a great time writing all this new music!
Do you listen to any genres of music that might surprise us?
Not really, ha-ha! Anything that has a great melody I'd say. I'm really a fan of big pop choruses and sing along.
How old were you when first performed music?
I think I was fourteen. I took about 6 months of guitar lessons and there was an annual show for the music school I attended. I played covers of Blink 182 and Grimskunk. It wasn't good at all, but it was a good enough feeling to give me the drive to play more gigs!
Where did you grow up? Did the place where you grew up have a large influence on your development as a musician?
I grew up in Chambly, a distant suburb from Montréal. It wasn't really a good spot to play music, there were very few shows and even fewer musicians, but I met my friend Marc-Antoine on the school bus and he’s still the guitarist in 2 of my bands to this day. His parents were cool enough to let us practice in their basement (they still do even though he doesn't live there anymore), so I guess it wasn't that bad!
Can you name any people who inspire you who are not musicians?
Of course! I would say that my girlfriend and my two ex-girlfriends have been a really big inspiration to me. They’ve helped me develop my political views and they shaped my vision of the world, they helped me grow as a person. My friends are also very inspiring. I'm not a fan of rock stars or famous people. The people that are inspiring me are people I actually know because I can get to know them for real, and I think people are more inspiring when you get to see their flaws, but they still shine through all their bad habits and their imperfections.
Where’s your favourite place to be when you are writing music?
I like to be anywhere but home, ha-ha. When I'm in a place or a situation where I'm out of my comfort zone, I always end up writing cool songs. So, a cottage, at my girlfriend’s place or sometimes I rent a little rehearsal space in Montréal.
Your passion for music spans many genres, and several different types of instrument as well. What type of instrument do you feel best suits your soul?
Good question... I think my true calling is to be a songwriter. I think I can write good tracks for almost any instrument, I'm good at doing arrangements and at writing good melodies. I'm not that good of a musician, but I'm a good singer. So, my best instrument is my voice, but I'm also not that bad at guitar and bass.
For those of us who have not yet visited Francophone Canada, what is one place we need to check out when we visit?
The old Québec City is the most beautiful place in Québec for me. I love that city. Every time I go there, I'm amazed by the beauty of the architecture. But there are also a lot of sweet nature spots, in Gaspésie or in Charlevoix. Québec is a beautiful place to live!
We see that you recently posted about discovering new artists on Spotify. Would you care to recommend any artists for our readers to check out?
Of course! In French, you should check out Orelsan, who's a great French pop/rap artist. You should also listen to folk/pop artists like Klo Pelgag or Frank Custeau. In English, I've been listening to a lot of Northcote lately and Seth Anderson, both of them Canadian artists!
What is your favourite board game of all time?
Well, I'm a huge fan of board games (and recently a board game creator myself), so that’s a really hard question. I guess I'm a big fan of Antoine Bauza (“7 Wonders” and “Last Bastion”), I played a lot of “Civilization” (both versions), and my girlfriend and I played “The Game” a lot during the pandemic.
* * *
FIND OUT MORE...
BRD sends a big thank-you to Salmine for this interview!