The third instalment of our Finger-Style Series comes from Canadian born artist Erik Mongrain. Through the medium of Prophase Records, the Québécois musician-come-composer has released three full length LP’s: Fates, in 2007, Equilibrium in 2008 and the most recent Forward in 2012. We managed to take some time out of Mongrain’s schedule to talk a little to him about his albums, his influences and foundations and his plans for the future.
HUNOW: Thanks for giving us your time Erik. How are you today?
EM: Hey! I am fine, thanks for asking!
HUNOW: There are many artists who play similar styles of music to you. We’d like to hear how you would describe your genre.
EM: Well, the best way I could find to ‘’tag’’ my personal style is insightful acoustic.
HUNOW: Who or what influenced you to write and perform in the way that you do?
EM: I guess everything I’ve experienced and every artist I’ve listened to have in one way or another influenced me. The biggest influence has and will always be Michael Hedges. His approach to composition was truly unique and he was way ahead of everybody else as far as 6-strings acoustic creation is involved. I spent many years in my early 20s learning every song of his and some from other guitarists and, after a while, my own stuff started to come out naturally. Fill your toolbox then start creating!
HUNOW: It’s arguable that ‘Airtap!’ is your most popular song. How do you, or anyone for that matter, discover that they are able to play like that?
EM: I saw a guy busking like that in the streets when I was 17 or so and I figured I could try it myself. ( I was busking as well back then ) I don’t play that technique that much though , it’s just for 1-2 songs really.
HUNOW: Do you have a favourite guitar and which guitars have you found accommodate your style the best?
EM: I play Schwartz guitars. He is a luthier [One who makes or repairs lutes] from Ontario and he truly rocks! His guitars are the best I’ve encountered and they fit me perfectly, on every aspect you could think of. I play a 26 inch scale, 1 13/16 width, Pinnacle model. Her name is Taproot.
HUNOW:You’ve had three albums to date: Fates, Equilibrium and Forward. Do you have a favourite and if so, why?
EM: A guitarist’s favourite album is usually his latest work, so Forward would be my favourite. It is by far the best audio quality and best compositions. I get bored of my past work a few months after recording and I try to aim for new songs/move forward.
HUNOW: What can we expect from you in the near future? Are there plans for a new release or any tours that we should know about?
EM: Right now it’s pretty calm for me. I have a small trio with 2 friends and we do have some gigs planned for this winter. There is a good chance that I will be playing in Italy with Stefano Barone in April 2014, a very high chance for the UK autumn 2014 and I will be part of Brian Gore’s international Guitar nights for early 2015. Between those I just take time to compose, live and be happy! I do give Skype guitar lessons every now and then. I also plan to record my 4th album end of 2014.
HUNOW: You’ve played shows in countries all over the world. Which country has been the most welcoming to you?
EM: Hmm, well outside of Canada/QC, I would say that England and Germany were the most enjoyable places to play so far.
HUNOW: Which five up-and-coming artists would say people should check it out at the moment?
EM: Hmm, I don’t follow the music world all that much! Weird isn’t it, being a musician and all… I think that Mike Dawes is the best thing that’s happened in the acoustic guitar world in a few years and that Stefano Barone needs much more attention than he currently has!
HUNOW: I’ve noticed that you offer someone lessons on Skype. What made you decide to offer lessons?
EM: Times are hard! Getting gigs and sales are just harder and harder. Diversifying!
HUNOW: Can you explain how you are associated with CandyRat?
EM: I am not signed with them but I do have my albums for sale on their website and Rob Poland allows me to have some of my videos uploaded on his Youtube channel every now and then. He’s a real gentleman!
HUNOW: Do you intend on staying as a solo artist or would you ever play in a band environment?
EM: I really doubt I will ever get into an actual band as I have issues making compromises when it comes to music
HUNOW: For our readers, if you had to pick one technique that you found most useful learning to play the guitar, what would you say it is?
EM: Classical guitar, J.S. Bach’s work!
If you were interested by anything you read about Erik Mongrain, you can find out more about him by checking out his pages. You can also go to CandyRat to purchase one of his albums.
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Come back next Thursday for the latest entry in our finger-style series.