The more it’s the same, the more it changes. Talk about it at the Victoriaville International Music Festival (FIMAV), which is preparing to celebrate its 40the anniversary under the sign of… renewal.
The event, which unveiled its program last week, has a new artistic director in the person of Scott Thomson, who has just taken the helm following the retirement of founder Michel Levasseur.
Big shoes to fill. Levasseur was more than a pillar of the festival, created in 1983.
But that doesn’t seem to worry his successor too much. When we meet him, in his small home in Plateau Mont-Royal, it is clear that Thomson, 48, exudes confidence.
“I know that my programming is good,” admits this native of Ontario, who has been based in Montreal since 2010. “I have enough experience in the broadcasting industry to know that. It’s clear that there are going to be people who won’t like it, but it’s always like that. Anyway, I have thick skin and so far all the comments have been positive. »
The next FIMAV, which will take place from May 13 to 19, is part of the continuity. Like Levasseur, Scott Thomson is a firebrand who casts a wide net. There will be free jazz, experimental, noise, electronic, contemporary music, free, lively, flyé, you name it. But the “new kid from Victo” thinks that FIMAV regulars will recognize his personal touch, which notably involves more hip-hop and less metal.
My tastes are different, but I don’t want to change everything at once. I simply added new flowers to the bouquet.
Scott Thomson, artistic director of FIMAV
Unlike his predecessor, Scott Thomson is a musician, which probably gives him another “ear”. A professional trombonist, he has been involved in the current Quebec jazz scene for several years and has already performed eight times at FIMAV, in different configurations, including last year, with the ensemble of drummer Guy Thouin.
Artist-programmers are a rare commodity. But Scott Thomson’s entire journey seems to be going in this direction.
In 2007, he founded an underground music venue in Toronto, Somewhere There. Then in 2017, he became artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival in Ontario, a position he held again last year. These two jobs allowed him to develop skills and expand his network of contacts.
So he didn’t hesitate long when Levasseur’s position opened up at FIMAV, a well-established festival with a substantial budget, located much closer to home.
“I thought about it for two or three days and I said to myself: I’m going to declare myself. There aren’t many people of my generation with this combination of skills,” observes this perfect bilingual, who studied literature before opting for music at the relatively late age of 25.
Thomson has obviously thought about the future of FIMAV. He will keep the formula, but also thinks of “progressive change”. He dreams out loud of open-air concerts and shows for young people.
But its first objective is to “meet the needs of the three communities” that make up the festival, namely the musicians, the spectators and the local community. To be closer to his team, he rented an apartment in Victoriaville, where he spends most of his weeks.
But it’s not because he spends his days in an office that he has stopped playing music. On the contrary. “I rehearse every day on my instrument,” he insists. I’m a brass player. Basically, it’s still my job…”
Visit the FIMAV website
Five programmer’s choices*
Bazip Zeehok: Dutch rock, led by former singer of The Ex, GW Sok. “FIMAV has a great history with The Ex. For the 40e, it made sense to have someone who is recognized for their contributions to the festival. »
Sélébéyone: Jazz rap project led by saxophonist Steve Lehman, with two rappers, including a certain High Priest, known for his work with the experimental hip-hop group Antipop Consortium
The Dwarves of East Agouza: Arab-psychedelic rock, with musicians from Egypt, the United States and Montreal (Sam Shalabi)
Basileus : Contemporary oratorio signed by Quebec composer Pascal Germain-Berardi. Four acts, 55 musicians. World premiere and opening concert. A legacy from Michel Levasseur.
Natural Information Society: Minimalist music made in USAperformed by nine musicians
* The detailed timetable will be available on March 13.