The second instalment of our finger-style series comes courtesy of Antoine Dufour, a French-Canadian artist most well-known for his clean, crisp sound and complex playing. Among other CandyRat musicians he remains relatively underground in the mainstream music scene, despite being remarkably talented. Recently, we were lucky enough to talk to him about some of his influences and the unmistakable genre he has helped form.
HUNOW: It’s a pleasure to talk to you Antoine! I’m a great personal fan of yours! How are you today?
AD: I’m good thanks!
HUNOW: For those readers who don’t know you, you are often described as a percussive guitarist who incorporates a lot of ‘finger-style’ into your music. Would you agree with this categorisation?
AD: I would probably say the opposite: finger-style guitarist who incorporate some percussive techniques.
HUNOW: When did you first start playing this style of music? Had you always known that you wouldn’t be a regular ‘four-chord-song’ artist or was it something that developed over time?
AD: When I was 17, I started playing classical guitar and in college, my teacher was a fan of Don Ross, Pierre Bensusan and Leo Kottke. That’s how I’ve been introduced to that style of playing and from this moment, I started to learn a lot of songs in the style. Eventually started to write my own songs.
HUNOW: Finger-style and percussive music is relatively underground, despite its growing popularity. How were you exposed to this genre of music?
AD: Like I said, it’s because of my classical guitar teacher. There was not much stuff on the internet back in 1997-98. I found a couple things about Michael Hedges on the web though. Learnt [sic] a few things from tabs I found on some website.
HUNOW: I’ve read that you took a lot of stock in Don Ross’ music when you were developing as an artist. Do you feel that you are able to learn from other peers at Candy Rat?
AD: Andy Mckee inspired me a lot around 2005-06 when we first met. Other than that, not really a CandyRat artist, but Stephen Bennett is probably my favourite player and composer on the guitar and harp-guitar.
HUNOW: CandyRat is such a diverse label with so many talented artists. I’d love to hear a little about how you began to work with them.
AD: The label was starting in 2005 and I got a call from Rob Poland at CandyRat saying he saw me at the Canadian Guitar Festival finger-style contest when I got 2nd place and he was interested in having me on the label. So I’m probably one of the first to be on the label after Don Ross and Andy Mckee.
HUNOW: I’ve heard that you also work as a guitar tutor, offering many opportunities in the music world. What would be your chosen profession if music wasn’t available to you?
AD: Jokes aside, I don’t know. I use to draw a lot when I was young. Maybe I would be an artist. I like sciences. So maybe a scientist?
HUNOW: There’s been a lot of attention towards your four-hands piece with Tommy Gauthier. How did you conceive the idea of playing a guitar with two people?
AD: It’s not a new idea. We were just trying to make a cool arrangement of the song together and we were thinking to make a guitar duet (yes, Tommy can also play guitar a little bit!) but Tommy asked me if I was using the 2 bass strings of the guitar when I play the song and I said no. So he thought he could play the bass part on these available strings. Then we were pretty convinced that it would be successful on YouTube and you can now count about 18 million views.
HUNOW: You have five solo albums to date, and one collaborative album with Gauthier. Where do you see your next step from here?
AD: Tommy and I are working on a new duet album. Should be ready for the spring. Other than that, I’m working a bit on a couple [of] arrangements that I’ll release as singles as they are ready.
HUNOW: Having composed so many songs to date, how do you ensure that you stay original and inspired when it comes to writing new songs?
AD: It’s tough. Did so many things that it’s hard to match what I’ve done so far. I raised the bar for myself, so I feel it’s hard to stay there or progress. I try to focus on the music. Writing good music is a win.
HUNOW: For our readers who like what they hear on your albums and want to delve further into this style of music, which five artists would you recommend our readers take a listen to?
AD: Stephen Bennett, Andy Mckee, Don Ross, Michael Hedges and Pierre Bensusan.
If you were interested by anything you read, make sure you read more about Antoine Dufour on his:
Facebook | Twitter | Official Website
Come back next Thursday for the latest entry in our finger-style series.