His question “Do you want coffee?” pulls me out of my daydreams. I nod shyly and we sit down to eat. I immediately try to find out whether this is his usual routine – he who comes to his studio every day – and whether I am preventing him from creating in spite of myself. “Don’t worry, when I come in here, I’m not making a tune a day, far from it. I may not even be making music. I can stay here for two hours,” Daniel said, pointing to his loveseat and on Instagram. browsing. I just want to be here.”
Daniel is a follower of the nine to five, in his pure and simple form, and this even if he has no obligations or no agenda to respect. Being your own boss – as we know – has its perks. “I don’t have deadlines when I’m working on my music. But creating is a way of life. A way of life that I dreamed of from childhood, stuck in the fence of the schoolyard. I am lucky enough to be able to do what I love in life every day. I can not believe it.”
As our conversation disrupts the songwriter-composer’s creative universe, I subtly try to uncover the leitmotif of his next work, slated for release in the fall of 2022. Daniel, who knows himself like no other, warns me kindly: “We can talk about the upcoming album, but when the interview is published, it could be the reality [de ce disque] or very different.”
10-4. I’ve been warned, but this vague sentence only piques my curiosity. With reason. No sooner had we started his creative approach than Daniel launched an unexpected information bomb. “During the pandemic, I composed an entire album that I had to put aside because I was disappointed with the result,” he says, the simplest in the world. “It’s not that the songs weren’t good. My daughters and my wife loved them, but one good Monday I thought, “Should I try to make another album?” This time I quickly found my way. I wrote about ten songs. I am also at the end of the creative process.
But what causes leaving a job? What makes one album more relevant than another in the songwriter’s eyes? “As I get older, I just want to do things that are similar to me,” he replies. But as long as it’s my whim, as long as I lament in song, as long as it’s for me alone, I don’t act on it. I’m trying to create something so we can think together.”
Daniel gets up to refill his cup of coffee before continuing: “As far as the relevance of a work is concerned, it is a result, a synchronicity. For example, dream better was really in sync with the times… and it wasn’t me who knocked down the two towers [du World Trade Center]”I promise,” he says ironically. The album came out a month after the attacks, in 2001, and it seems to have benefited people.”
And that’s an understatement. Because the artist is constantly being talked about dream better, this mythical work that has marked the imagination of several generations (and whose words we know by heart), I promised myself not to repeat to him what he already knows. Not to let him know that the show that came out of that album, which I went to when I was 19, is still at the top of the best shows I’ve seen in my life. But when he opens the door to work for me… I enter without hesitation. And to my surprise, Daniel doesn’t seem to bother bringing up the subject. On the contrary. He even lets a little pride shine through.
“I am aware that no matter what album I release, I will always be in competition with dream better† But since it was I who did it, I have no bitterness. I am in competition with myself. There really is worse. Sometimes I think to myself, “My God, I’m lucky it was me who made this album.” Because I couldn’t have had dream better in my discography.
Neither yes nor no
If there is one label that has been attached to Daniel Bélanger over the years, it is that of the artist who deliberately makes himself rare. Especially for TV appearances. To say that the client involved is aware of this reality is an understatement. “I accept or decline an offer, depending on my mood, it depends on nothing more,” he admits candidly. I realize I’m not losing anything by not being on TV. As long as my songs like it, they will take note of my presence.
But when Daniel decides to accept an invitation like the one fromLive from the universe (where he soberly performed the song last January Say everything without saying anything for Louis-José Houde), there were ultra-positive reactions from all sides. In addition, the video of this magical moment has more than 330,000 views on Facebook. “I don’t think I’ve ever ‘scored’ like that on TV. But you know why I went there? So the team keeps inviting me and I can keep saying no! He laughs, Bélanger style.