Marie DaviD­son

The Mon­treal artist ar­gues for the cul­tural im­por­tance of danc­ing till dawn

NOW Magazine - - CLUB & CONCERTS - By KEVIN RITCHIE kev­[email protected] | @kev­in­ritchie

MARIE DAVID­SON with DUST-E-1, PHÈDRE and ON EARTH DJS KEHDO, EFEMMERA and CEREMONIES at the Gar­ri­son (1197 Dun­das West) on Fri­day (De­cem­ber 7), 9 pm. $18. ro­tate.com, sound­scapes­mu­sic. com, tick­et­fly.com.

Warm, hot, tired, sweaty, dizzy, con­fused. The sun is ris­ing and you’ve been danc­ing all night. That point where ec­stasy and fa­tigue be­come in­ter­twined is a spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence for many, and in Toronto it’s largely rel­e­gated to un­der­ground dance par­ties.

It’s also the sub­ject of Marie David­son’s slo-mo sin­gle La Ec­stase, pro­duced with Ital­ian DJ La­suma II when the pair par­tic­i­pated in the Red Bull Mu­sic Academy in Mon­treal two years ago and re­leased a cou­ple of weeks ago.

“This nice, warm em­brace hap­pens. You’re not ready to go home, but you’re also feel­ing your en­ergy fad­ing and you start ques­tion­ing your­self. Like, why am I here? But also en­joy­ing it,” she says over the phone from Mon­treal just af­ter re­turn­ing home from a Eu­ro­pean tour. “It also talks about a pro­found want for change in your life.”

David­son re­leased the song on an EP that fol­lowed her fourth solo al­bum, Work­ing Class Woman (Ninja Tune). Her most am­bi­tious ef­fort to date, the al­bum’s ana­log techno and in­dus­trial-strength Italo rhythms go from wryly funny and dead­pan to chaotic and ter­ri­fy­ing. Af­ter cri­tiquing club cul­ture on last year’s Po­laris-longlisted Adieux Au Dance­floor, this record goes deeper into both the most ridicu­lous and dam­ag­ing as­pects of do­ing what she does – from awk­ward fan en­coun­ters at shows (Your Big­gest Fan) to unadul­ter­ated pop bliss (So Right) and phys­i­cal and emo­tional ex­haus­tion from over­work (The Tun­nel).

It’s a per­sonal al­bum that also holds wider so­ci­etal sys­tems to ac­count in en­abling worka­holism. Her in­ter­views tend to con­nect dots be­tween top­ics, so it’s no sur­prise that talk­ing about a purely emo­tional song like La Ec­stase eas­ily segues into a con­ver­sa­tion on Toronto and Mon­treal’s cul­tural spa­ces. The lack of in­fra­struc­ture – i.e., venues – is par­tic­u­larly ap­par­ent since David­son just fin­ished a Eu­ro­pean tour where she per­formed in a mix of big night­clubs, ware­houses and other live venues.

“It’s good for peo­ple to have that 5 am ex­pe­ri­ence,” she ex­plains. “It’s a healthy thing for peo­ple to have spa­ces to go to and just dance and not worry about laws or what time will it close or if you’re al­lowed to do this and that or not.

“Ev­ery­thing [in Toronto and Mon­treal] is the same – the same hours, the same tem­plate you ap­ply to any kind of show. It means [dif­fer­ent types of] artists are not re­ally in­te­grated,” she says. “I don’t think it’s healthy to have some artists hang­ing out on their own in un­der­ground se­cret DIY places. That’s cool but does it have to be il­le­gal? Why does it have to be hid­den? At some point it gets dis­cov­ered and shut down.”

If danc­ing at dawn is some­thing that can be en­joyed re­spon­si­bly, she ar­gues, why not in­vite that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence into the cul­tural land­scape?

“It would give Canada a stronger cul­tural iden­tity – at least for mu­sic,” she con­tin­ues. “I mean, I love Cé­line Dion but she doesn’t rep­re­sent ev­ery­thing we do.”

The last time David­son per­formed in Toronto, she played an il­le­gal ware­house space (that was spon­sored by Red Bull). She went on af­ter 1 am, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween dark and joy­ous rhythms on her all-hard­ware set-up. Stand­ing atop a ta­ble, she belted out her usu­ally sar­donic spo­ken-word lyrics to a sweaty as­sem­bled mass in the win­dow­less space.

She might be play­ing “proper venue” the Gar­ri­son on Fri­day, but ex­pect an af­ter-hours vibe. Although the al­bum might be a cere­bral ex­plo­ration of worka­holism, her shows – a mix new, old, un­re­leased and livespe­cific tracks – are de­signed for danc­ing.

And when David­son calls her­self a worka­holic, she’s got re­ceipts. Since 2010, she has re­leased four solo al­bums, four al­bums with her hus­band, Pierre Guer­ineau, as Es­saie Pas (in­clud­ing two for DFA Records), an al­bum on Con­stel­la­tion Records via her ex­per­i­men­tal duo Les Momies de Palerme, plus a cou­ple of sin­gles through cos­mic disco project DKMD.

All this work led to burnout, chronic health prob­lems and a pe­riod of self-re­flec­tion. She cre­ated a live show called Bull­shit Thresh­old in­spired by the burnout that in­formed Work­ing Class Woman.

Worka­holism also runs in her fam­ily, she says, but it’s as much about na­ture as it is nur­ture.

“Peo­ple are ob­sessed with per­form­ing and not just work like go­ing to your job,” she says. “Per­form­ing in re­la­tion­ships. Per­form­ing so­cially. Earn­ing more money and want­ing to be pow­er­ful. Work is an ad­dic­tion like drugs, sex, in­ter­net and pornog­ra­phy.”

In Work It, the al­bum’s most suc­cinct ex­pres­sion of her re­lent­less­ness and one her most ac­ces­si­ble (and fun­ni­est) tracks to date, she con­cludes that we need to love our­selves. But she points out an in­sid­i­ous irony that comes when we fi­nally ac­knowl­edge this and slow down.

“You have to per­form at be­ing healthy,” she says. “But how can you per­form at be­ing healthy if you’re bro­ken in­side? We’re try­ing to deal with symp­toms with­out deal­ing with the cause. Just re­lax! Go home and watch some­thing on­line! Then you feel worse be­cause on­line is full of things that make you want other things. It’s about con­sump­tion and con­sumerism and this is also what makes us work more. It’s an ex­tremely fucked-up vi­cious cir­cle.”

Spend­ing time alone fig­ur­ing out what she re­ally wants and needs has helped her iden­tify the is­sues.

“It would be hard as a tour­ing mu­si­cian to stop us­ing my smart­phone, but I also know that my smart­phone is the big­gest thing cre­at­ing the anx­i­ety in my life,” she laments. “Most peo­ple are not even aware of these things. Try to ex­plain to some­one who has used a car all their lives that they don’t need a car. That’s like telling them they don’t need their left arm.” How is she do­ing now? “I’m still work­ing on it.”

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