Men I Trust’s DIY Spirit Attracts Flying Lotus, Tyler, the Creator and More

- by Alex Hudson


IT, MEN I TRUST ARE EITHER totally obscure or very famous. On the one hand, they’re a DIY indie band without a publicity team, and they’ve received little mainstream media coverage; on the other, they headline large venues around North America and attract an impressive 3.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify (to put that number in context: arena rockers Arcade Fire have only slightly more, at 3.8 million).

So how did Men I Trust get so popular? Even the members themselves don’t seem to have a satisfacto­ry answer. “We’re very surprised,” admits singer Emmanuelle Proulx during a fullband Zoom call with Exclaim! “When you try to make it as a band, you’re like, ‘Okay, I need to be featured in that magazine, or do that thing, or go in the mainstream media.’ We didn’t think it would translate into such faithful fans.”

They didn’t achieve their renown overnight, and they’ve never had a big viral moment. They first formed in Montreal in 2014 as an electronic duo made up of music school buddies Jessy Caron (bass/guitar) and Dragos Chiriac (keyboards/production). They initially recruited guest singers until one of those contributo­rs, Proulx, became a full-fledged member in 2016. As for why Proulx joined the group permanentl­y, she says with a self-deprecatin­g smirk, “The thing I had was my availabili­ty.”

With Proulx on board, Men I Trust shifted into a bleary sound combining the groovebase­d electro-soul of their early days with hazy dream pop jangle. They attracted the attention of Tyler, the Creator, who personally recruited them for 2018’s Camp Flog Gnaw festival, and more recently caught the ear of beatmaker Flying Lotus. “We’re supposed to meet him in L. A.,” says Proulx of FlyLo. “I put him on the guest list. I hope he’s going to come. I’m going to be stressed out.”

The band’s steady upward trajectory was interrupte­d by the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.

Stuck at home with their tour dates cancelled, the trio began working on new songs. The result is Untourable Album — an ironically named project, given the fact that the group plan to support it with an extensive North American tour. It’s still aptly named, given the way its rich sonic textures will likely be impossible to recreate live. From the backmasked swells of seasick opener “Organon” to the retrofutur­ist IDM beats and disjointed two-part structure of “5AM Waltz,” these 13 tracks are filled with details that sound tailor-made for headphone listening.

With so many fans eagerly awaiting Untourable Album, Men I Trust could easily surround themselves with any team they wanted. Instead, they’re sticking with the in-house approach they’ve grown accustomed to.

Chiriac shares the band’s resolute DIY philosophy: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “It worked out the way we did it at the beginning,” he reflects. “So we thought, ‘Why don’t just we continue that way?’ It’s cool.”

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