Johnny Reid and Jérôme Minière talk about the upcoming Juno Awards gala and their respective nominations
While many viewers and music lovers are gathered around their TV screens on April 1 to watch the 2012 Juno Awards, most nominees will squirm in their seats at Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place as interstellar host William Shatner and guests announce this year’s winners. Among this edition’s nominees are Johnny Reid and Jérôme Minière, two artists who have carved out envied niches over the years in quite different musical genres. One is a Scottish-born, Lennoxville-raised football player turned country star, the other is a French filmmaker-cum-Montreal electro pop artist, and both of them met when they were brought together for our cover story.
REINING IN EXPECTATIONS
Although he’s now a regular at events like this, having won, among other prizes, the Juno for Country Album of the Year in 2010 for Dance With Me and in 2011 for A Place Called Love, Johnny Reid has a vivid, almost bittersweet memory of his first appearance at this annual shindig for Canadian music. "I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never taken too much credit for an award, a nomination or a spot in a magazine or on a billboard. Even though I had high hopes, everyone knew the award would go to Paul Brandt [in 2008]," reveals the singer, who was among the nominees for best country recording that year. "Was I disappointed? Maybe a little bit, but I wasn’t surprised!" he adds, stating that just being nominated was more than enough.
This year, Reid is rubbing elbows with City and Colour’s Dallas Green and everybody’s favourite band to loathe, Nickelback, in the Single of the Year category. His nominated song, Let’s Go Higher, has quite the history. "I wrote the lyrics to this song several years ago, around 2002," recalls Reid. "Just like everybody else at some point, I was going through some stuff. Mine was related to the music business. You know, ‘Is this for me? Should I go on?’ My wife told me to take a look around to see how far I already was and how many people were supporting me. She told me, ‘You have to go forward. You have to go higher!’ As I was making A Place Called Love in 2010, I found these lyrics in a dresser and went ‘Whoa! Look at that!’"
Though the new album he released two weeks ago, Fire It Up, is his main focus, the Junos are obviously on Johnny Reid’s mind. "The last three years have been filled with love and positivity – I’d say [being nominated] is [also] a pretty uplifting experience!" concludes the singer.
SCHEMING A NEW RÉVOLUTION FRANÇAISE
Nominated for the first time for Francophone Album of the Year along with heavy-hitters like Coeur de pirate and Malajube, French wunderkind Jérôme Minière is honoured, but remains grounded. "Just being nominated is satisfying enough, especially since it’s a first for me at the Junos. Since the competition is incredibly strong, I’m not getting my hopes up," he explains, chuckling. This nomination also brings with it a slew of new experiences for the artist, who, along with his label, must now deal with more attention from the ROC. "We rarely had to deal with media outside of Quebec and Europe. I’d say it’s as much an exploration for us as it is for them!"
While Minière wasn’t expecting anything specific when creating Le Vrai le faux (which also earned four nominations at the ADISQ 2011 gala), he now believes that the album resonated A Mari usque ad Mare because he tried something different: going pop. "On this record, I tried to be more concise, more compact, one even might say more pop than usual, and I guess that’s what made this album less difficult to access than all the others," he states. "So the door was wide open and it makes me happy that so many people paid me a visit!"
Of course, exposure via the Junos could be the Trojan horse Minière needs to conquer other provinces. "I’m excited. I already have a gig scheduled this summer in Vancouver, which is great, but I try to remain down to earth. Still, the Junos remain a great opportunity to not only build bridges, but also relationships," adds Minière, who has good memories of his time spent on stage with anglo artists like Patrick Watson and the Barr Brothers when he collaborated on an emotional homage to Lhasa de Sela back in January.
The 2012 Juno Awards
April 1, 8 p.m.