Sherbrooke boys in Searchlight contest
Ayoung Sherbrooke band that is bursting with musical talent is a contestant in CBC Radio’s annual Searchlight – The Hunt for Canada’s Best New Artist contest, an online voting contest that is just wrapping up its first phase of voting to determine the regional
finalists. To advance to the final five, contestants have to make it through several rounds of public voting. The one sole winner will be announced on CBC Radio’s Q program on May 15th.
Orange O’Clock, a three man Alternative Rock band consisting of brothers Mickael and Raphael Fortin and Anthony Simoneau Dubuc, started playing and writing music together about five years ago, a move that has since taken them on an interesting ride.
“We all grew up in Sherbrooke and were in the music concentration program at Mitchell-Montcalm high school,” said Mickael Fortin who studied classical piano in both elementary and high school, and is now the lead singer and keyboard player in the group. “Anthony and I started playing together after school. We often played the game “Rock Band”. Then one day my brother, who was taking violin and piano at school, said he could play drums. So we all started playing together just for fun, but it quickly got serious,” explained Mickael.
The boys, still all in high school, entered a music video that they shot at their school in an internet competition. After their video, as Mickael put it, “got a crazy number of views”, the band was contacted by a big producer to play their song live at the Bell Centre. Mickael and Anthony were only sixteen at the time, while Raphael was only twelve!
That experience encouraged Orange O’Clock to enter two more music competitions, “I’ll music” and “Sherbrooklyne”, both of which they won, claiming hefty cash prizes. “Now we had money so we invested in the making of a CD, last year, called Crazy Carnival, and we created a music video with a professional,” mentioned the singer. The band launched Crazy Carnival at Sherbrooke’s famous Granada Theatre and, later in the year, opened for Marie-Mai at the Fete du Lac des Nations. “That was great and it really helped us to grow our fan base.”
Of course, it wasn’t just their chance to play big venues that grew their fan base, but also their music. With British Rock influences like Radiohead, the Arctic Monkeys and the Black Keys, their music has a unique and professional sound, from fast dance numbers to the occasional slow ballad, all sung in the language of Shakespeare. “I’ve always sung music in English. I found it was easier to write music in English, too. Both my parents are Francophone but I’ve been watching English television and listening to English music since I was about five,” said the Francophone musician.
“I even work with an English coach now so I can get the accent right.” Hopefully, his coach won’t completely eradicate the slight hint of a French accent that comes through when Mickael sings his English lyrics; it certainly makes Orange O’Clock sound distinctly Canadian.
When asked what it was like to be in a band with his little brother, Mickael answered: “It’s a big advantage – we can work together all week long. Since playing music together we’re even closer. We think the same way and we have the same goals. He’s still in high school, so that’s a bit of a problem, but he’ll be graduating in a few months from Mitchell-Montcalm. It’s a great school, an inspiring school.”
After spending several months in the studio working on new music, including their new single “Can’t Fight the Feeling” that they entered in the Searchlight contest, the band will soon be hitting the road to tour Quebec.
“The contests can make all the difference for new bands, not just by winning, but also with the contacts you make. The Searchlight contest is the biggest contest we’ve entered. We had just finished producing “Can’t Fight the Feeling”, so the timing was good. Since Crazy Carnival, we’ve grown up and now we know where we want to go,” concluded Mickael Fortin.
Visit the CBC Searchlight contest website where you can listen to Orange O’Clock’s new single and vote for them. The contest ends on May 14th and the winning band or musician will receive $36,500 worth of prizes.
The members of Orange O’Clock are
(l. to r.) Raphael Fortin (Drummer), Anthony Simoneau
Dubuc (guitarist), and Mickael Fortin ( song-writer/singer/
Members of the Sherbrooke band Orange O’Clock, (l. to r.) Anthony Simoneau-Dubuc, Mickael Fortin and Raphael Fortin, all attended Mitchell-Montcalm high school’s music concentration program.