men i trust is the dream-pop band endorsed by tyler
The Montreal-based band shares a video for jazzy new song 'Seven,' and talks landing on the Camp Flog Gnaw lineup.
If you’ve been paying attention to Tyler, The Creator’s Instagram feed, you might have noticed the name Men I Trust on the 2018 Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival poster. It’s right below A$AP Rocky and Kali Uchis. The Montreal-based band is an unusual one to find on a hip-hop festival lineup, but it turns out that Tyler is a fan of their dreamy indie pop. He personally asked Men I Trust to play the two-day extravaganza that he curated on November 10-11 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA.
“Tyler just wrote to me on Instagram. He said ‘I like you guys.’ That was it,” notes Men I Trust vocalist/guitarist Emma Proulx. “He seems like a pretty cool guy… I said, ‘Thanks for the opportunity,’ and he said ‘I love your music, when are you going to release an album?’ As simple as that, as if my sister was texting me.”
The Canadian group, which along with Emma, consists of producer Dragos Chiriac and bassist Jessy Caron, may be one of the most consistent pop bands that you’ve never heard of. Beginning as a duo in 2014, Dragos and Jessy released two full-length albums, before being introduced to Emma in late 2015 via a Facebook video. They then became a trio, and collectively made a decision to concentrate on releasing singles and music videos, rather than pour all their time and energy into releasing full-length albums. “It was really natural for us to do album, album, album, but we needed to slow down because nobody knew us,” explains Emma. “It’s hard to deliver content on a regular basis and maintain interest when you release an album a year,” says Dragos. Emma adds, “When you release an album there needs to be some people waiting.”
The strategy of releasing one song at a time seems to have paid off. The band now has a catalog of luscious melodies, groovy basslines and soft, delicate vocals, that stands out among the thousands of guitar-toting indie bands of their ilk. Men I Trust also has 41 thousand subscribers to their YouTube channel, and its music videos have been viewed more than four million times. Tyler, The Creator is clearly not the only one listening and waiting for an album.
There is an album coming (in February 2019), but for now, Men I Trust has another single to share. “Seven” is, quite literally, a party song. It’s about a night of partying at a friend’s cabin, and what Emma describes as, “one friend who is a bit too curious.” “You know that one friend who always has crazy stories? That’s the guy,” she says with a laugh. Her and Dragos won’t say too much more about the song (to protect the privacy of those involved), but the mood of the song suggests something sexy. You can watch the video below and draw your own conclusion.
The video, filmed and directed by Men I Trust, is set in the Canadian countryside, and is intended to bring context to the song. Dragos says, “It gives you a direction on how to appreciate the song, and how to connect with it.” It features the band’s three friends, Julia, Fannie, and Sophie, kayaking on a river, walking around a custom-built 70s-style cabin, and lying in tall grass, before ending with a kaleidoscope of close-ups on each of their faces.
Musically for Men I Trust, “Seven” is a step towards R&B, and a major acknowledgment of their jazz and classical roots. Both Jessy and Dragos have music degrees from Laval University in Quebec City, and “Seven” is their most instinctive song to date. It’s pure pop with a jazz motif, and the minute-long guitar solo that concludes the song is as close to daydreaming as they’ve ever come.
Emma says the jazz influence comes from Jessy (the one band member missing from our conversation), who has a degree in jazz guitar. “He’s fascinated with pop music, because it’s not his field,” she says. “So every time he comes across a pop melody, he’s like, ‘Oh my god, this is so pop,’ and [likewise] I would be so proud to find something jazzy. It’s a fun exchange.”
Elsewhere, the decision to write and sing in English, rather than in their native French, is a curious one. According to Dragos, it’s a topic that comes up quite often. “I have this conversation with so many people all the time,” he says. Both he and Emma cite a number of reasons for it, such as having learned the English language through music (“we listened to Pink Floyd when we were teenagers,” Emma says), and that they find it easier to write songs in English, as opposed to French (“in English the words are shorter. It’s like another instrument,” opines Emma, again). But in the end, Dragos says that it’s simply a stylistic choice. “I see English songs and French songs as two different styles, and for me personally, I prefer the English style”.
But not everyone agrees. “I have a friend who is really fluent in translation and different languages and he says, ‘this is a policy, there isn’t an easier language’,” says Dragos. “Basically he’s saying that you have as many ways to express yourself in both languages, and there isn’t one that’s easier than another.” Dragos says his friend is probably correct, but right now, Men I Trust is doing just fine expressing themselves in English. Their songs are catchy, but not cliché, and with a co-sign from Tyler, The Creator, Men I Trust is about to get a whole lot bigger.