Men I Trust Interview
Men I Trust's Emma Proulx on accessing creativity via sensitivity
Words— Frank And Oak staff
In our Good Living interview series, we ask our most interesting friends revealing questions about how they design their lives, navigate today’s complicated world and, well, live the good life – whatever that means for them.
Emmanuelle Proulx alongside her bandmates Jessy and Dragos, is creating dreamy electro-pop with simple rhythms that are making people take notice around the world. With the help of Emma's gorgeous vocals and guitar licks Men I Turst have been hard at work creating new music and touring the world playing to crowds as far away as China. She's also busy with her own solo project under the moniker Bernache
"I always was into music as far as I can remember. From a young age I took piano lessons and learned to read music," Emma says. "Until recently, I never really sang openly in front of people but my friend uploaded a video of me casually singing around a campfire to Facebook and the boys called me after seeing it. Things went well, I think because we’ve been a band since then." We couldn't agree more.
Tell us about your family. Are they creative types and can they relate to what you’re doing? Were they influential to you as a singer or artist?
On my mom’s side, everybody is really artistic. I remember, all the family members knew how to play instruments and Christmases were really loud and musical. My grandfather was a writer and my grandmother was painting, dancing and singing all the time. She was very unconventional, creative and rebellious. She continues to inspire me today. My mother told me from a very early age not to care too much about what people were thinking and to not be afraid of having fun.
At home, my parents always have been really supportive. I remember when I was a teenager, the only TV we had was just next to our piano in the living room. Every time I sat to play a few notes, my father would put the sound off no matter what was on TV without asking me anything. I always felt they had a deep respect for it. I had so many friends in high school and university who were dying to do art for a living but didn’t get as much support and I always felt lucky to have parents that encouraged me to do whatever made me happy.
What is your key to creativity?
I think inspiration is simply about sensitivity. So the key to it is to be open with all your senses and with yourself. Trust your gut. It’s your access to that sensitivity that you can transfer into work. I would say that peace of mind is really important for me too. It’s a goal for everyone so even if an artist writes songs about sad or tumultuous moments, I see it as an exercise, conscience or not, in order to achieve peace of mind and happiness. A song is never a permanent state. I think there must be hope and energy in the act of creating even if the topic and the atmosphere is not happy because there is too much life into it. So, yeah, peace of mind is good. It leaves space for beauty.
It's great to see the band's DIY ethic. Especially in your videos. Where does that come from and is it an important value to you guys as a band and as people?
It kind of happened that way naturally. It wasn’t a decision. We have always been 100 % independent because we didn’t always get attention from the industry. We didn’t have a lot of money to work with a big team and we always mixed and mastered our music ourselves. Dragos is a pretty quick learner and he decided to film our first music video himself. He rented a RED camera for “Humming Man” and we haven’t stopped doing it on our own since then. It gives us great satisfaction and being able to put image on music is a treat for us all. We feel that we can express more and that it really reflects our vision from one song to another. We never changed the way we do things because it’s still pretty manageable for us. I feel really lucky about it.
How would you describe your style? What is the relationship between your style and your music?
I would say that my style is a pretty simple. Pants and t-shirts most of the time, and slightly rough around the edges. Not too polished. I like unisex and solid pieces because I find that it makes girls look even more feminine. I like to think my wardrobe as a uniform. To love a piece of clothing enough to buy it twice or more, or to wear it two days in a row is a great feeling. Maybe I’m becoming an adult! I also happen to love overly girly pieces: satin, princess dresses, and delicate tops. I rarely go for it but maybe I should. I think I like contrasts and that shows in the music I make.
There has always been a whole culture about the relationship between music bands and fashion style but I think that those narrow categories are bound to disappear. Styles are just mixed and reinterpreted cyclically. I remember how around the 2000’s, the cool kids were either punk or hip-hop and that makes me laugh.
What’s coming up for you as a person and solo artist and Men I Trust?
I have a lot of drafts for Bernache, my solo project. I only released one song last year and it received more love than I thought was possible! So it’s a bit dramatic, but we are pretty busy with the band. I should release something really soon. For Men I Trust, which is my main project, we are working on new singles before the summer and a new album!
What’s your definition of living the Good Life?
A good balance between self-achievement and a love for small and simple things. It sounds so cliché but must be true.
If you enjoyed our sit down with Emma, check out some of our other interviews.