This Friday, April 21, the Montreal group Hippie Hourrah unveils its second album entitled Exposition Individual, inspired and created by the work of the late Quebec painter, Jacques Hurtubise. A few days before the publication of the project, Pan M 360 met the three members of the group, Miles Dupire-Gagnon, Gabriel Lambert, and Cédric Marinelli at the latter’s painting studio in order to learn more about this new chapter of their artistic history.
Under the Simone Records label, the trio rose to prominence in 2021 with the opus Hippie Hourrah!, a proposal with psychedelic sounds, also tinged with pop and even folk. This time, the three men return to the charge with a concept album around the art of the artist Jacques Hurtubise, a member of the family of the group’s percussionist when they perform on stage. Recently, the group’s voice, Cédric Marinelli, was charmed by the painter’s work and offered to make it the guideline of their second long format. Moreover, the Onibaba painting d’Hurtubise adorns the cover of the book and gives a good image of the project, making it as coherent as it is eclectic. Also, the titles of the pieces are all those of paintings by Jacques Hurtubise and served as a starting point for the development of the songs.
With the help of the writer Ralph Elawani, Hippie Hourrah drew its inspiration from the impressive artistic catalog of Jacques Hurtubise. On the album, Elawani plays the role of a journalist and appears several times in narrative tracks, providing additional depth to the concept. Composed of 14 titles, this project offers pieces with atypical structures infused with synths, all crafted around the singular and bewitching voice of Marinelli. The creative casualness of Hippie Hourrah shines on Exhibition Individual and gives life to excellent titles such as “Unfathomable Nights,” and “Brush in the Tomb,” which are undoubtedly two favourites for the author of these lines.
PAN M 360: Why were you inspired by the art of Jacques Hurtubise?
CEDRIC MARINELLI: At a certain point, I completely fell into discovering Jacques Hurtubise and his art. Jacques is in the family of our percussionist and I have always seen his works, without really knowing who he was. Recently, I went to the workshop where his family takes care of his paintings. I found the experience very inspiring and thought it would make a great guideline for our project. Naturally, I discussed with members of Jacques Hurtubise’s family and I was sent his catalogs with all his paintings. It is precisely from there that we took the names of each of the songs of our project. His family liked our vision and thought it would introduce his art to younger generations. Almost all the texts on the album have as their starting point an element of the life of Jacques Hurtubise, and they are as much works as moments of his life. That being said, the titles of Individual Exhibition do not exclusively deal with Jacques and we approach several other different subjects. The narrative pieces also reinforce the concept of the album and bring a little something extra musical to the project.
PAN M 360: Let’s talk about the Onibaba canvas that adorns the album cover. Why did you make this choice?
HIPPIE HOURRAH: We chose this canvas because of the effect it had on us. We love the aesthetics and the feeling that the work gives off. Jacques Hurtubise’s family offered us several canvases for the cover and we looked at them all carefully. When we saw Onibaba, we all agreed that it was the one that best represented the project.
PAN M 360: How did you choose the paintings that would become the titles of your songs?
HIPPIE HOURRAH: We chose the paintings that made us trip and inspired us to create. For example, Jacques made “Rorschach” style canvases. Rorschach was a psychologist who developed a therapy tool that is still used today. The principle is simple, it is to show an abstract painting to a patient and ask him to describe what he sees. Jacques has already made canvases in the style of those presented for this test. For the song from our album called “Rorschach,” we played along and wrote about what we saw on works of this style that we found on the internet. The song is squarely about what a patient would say to a doctor, it’s quite interesting.
PAN M 360: Is there a parallel to be drawn between what the painting gives you and your music?
CÉDRIC MARINELLI: Clearly. And I think that’s why we wanted to be inspired by a visual artist and the title of the album is Exhibition Individual. For us, each song is a painting. I really like lots of different art forms, I especially love abstract painting. In the composition of our music, we always have this desire for expansion and research that goes beyond what is known. It really is like painting. In our new project, we go further than what we know musically through research, improvisation, and imagination.
PAN M 360: You say that you go beyond certain musical limits in this new work. How would you describe this proposal?
HIPPIE HORRAH: It sure is psychedelic. It is musically, but also in the general attitude of the project. Sometimes, in this project, we explore more pop and rock avenues. There is a bit of everything in this project and our influences are very vague. It’s a happy mix of musical styles wrapped in a psychedelic universe.
PAN M 360: By its rhythm and its color, the title “Nuits insondables” stands out from the rest of the album. Tell me a bit about the history of this song.
HIPPIE HOURRAH: This is probably the rawest track on the album. When we worked on this track, it was super easy compared to other tracks that we worked on for a long time. There is a certain simplicity in “Nuits insondables,” which goes well with Cédric’s very personal lyrics. It is at this level that this piece differs from the others in the project. This title gives you time to catch your breath before setting off again. We’ve been hanging out at Esco for years and Cédric works there. He wanted to make a song about this area which is well-known to musicians here.
PAN M 360: Your writing is neat and poetic. What does your creative process look like in terms of writing?
CÉDRIC MARINELLI: I have always written with Ralph Elawani, a good friend of mine. He is the one who speaks on the narrative frameworks of the album. Generally, I don’t have any particular technique. We start with an idea and we build from that. For this project, we wanted each song to have the name of a painting by Jacques Hurtubise. As I said earlier, each song bears the name of a canvas, and we started from that as a source of inspiration to create.
PAN M 360: Which Exposition Individual piece are you most looking forward to performing on stage?
HIPPIE HOURRAH: We’re definitely looking forward to “Unfathomable Nights” and “Pur Sang Rouge.” We had a lot of fun doing “Time of the Dead” on Exposition Individual, it’s really trippy. It will be good to have new material to do during our shows. Our performances could take a different turn, we can’t wait. Before, we didn’t have so many tunes, so we threw ourselves into endless instrumental sequences. We really don’t hate it, but it’s hard to do an hour show like that. More concise pieces, it’s not a refusal.