The Chat Room: Jérémie Brémault of Jérémie & The Delicious Hounds
Put simply, Jérémie & The Delicious Hounds are part of the new generation carrying the torch for classic soul music. But their kind of soul has a distinctive Canadian twist. Hailing from St. Boniface, the old French quarter of Winnipeg, they have cemented their identity as bilingual artists with their first full-length LP, Cruel, a nine-song collection of fun-loving songs about amour and heartbreak delivered in both English and French.
However, the language of funk is universal, something the band’s lead singer and guitarist Jérémie Brémault has been demonstrating since his emergence on the Winnipeg music scene in 2013. After winning a local talent competition by relying solely on his natural singing talent, Jérémie started his own eight-piece band, each member hand-picked, and they’ve been tearing up dance floors all across Canada ever since.
The name The Delicious Hounds grew out of their “delicious sound” of smooth melodies, juicy guitar riffs and tasty horn licks. Jérémie’s sultry, smokey voice is accentuated by a brilliant brass section that adds extra autheticity to the overall modern twist on old-school rhythm and beats. On top of it all, Jérémie’s charismatic stage presence never fails to leave audiences swooning.
Starting in 2021, The Hounds put all their energy and focus into making Cruel with veteran Winnipeg producer Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies, The Bros. Landreth, Ariel Posen), capturing songs “live off the floor” in vintage soul style, and as a reflection of the chemistry the band has created through their dedication to playing live anywhere and everwhere. We caught up with Jérémie Brémault to find out more.
The band’s new album, Cruel, is a great mix of vintage soul and modern lyrical themes. What was the writing process like, and how did you go about getting the right sound in the studio?
Well, the process varies a lot depending on the song. I typically bring an idea to the band that’s either partly finished, or sometimes completed, and the guys add their flavors to the tunes. There’s a few songs on the album that I co-wrote with my cousins, Sarah Dugas (“She Gave Me Love”) and Annick Brémault (“Tu Pousses Ta Chance”). The song “We Haven’t Met Yet” was written by our guitarist Ryan Toupin and myself. So needless to say, there’s no one certain way that we write. As for capturing the sound that we wanted in the studio, we did it all live off the floor, like the OG’s used to do it.
As noted, many of the songs on the album are in French as well. How challenging is it to write and perform in both languages?
For the performance aspect, it isn’t challenging at all. My first language is French, so it feels completely natural. As for the writing, I’ve always struggled with putting thoughts into words. So it’s just a slow process overall. This is my personal opinion of course, but I find the French language quite a bit more descriptive than writing in English. So that adds to the many possibilities of where you can take a listener, but also the difficulty in the process as well. There’s just so many options.
Who are some of the great soul artists you most admire?
Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Menahan Street Band, Lee Dorsey, William Bell… The list goes on!
How have the Delicious Hounds evolved as a band since you formed?
After years of searching, we’ve found our perfect funk-and-soul fusion sound. We’ve had different band members come and go, with some returning and others leaving for good. However, we now feel that we’ve found the ideal combination that completes our musical recipe. Our current lineup has achieved remarkable unity and musical excellence. Despite occasional personnel changes, we consistently deliver a tight and impressive sound. Collaborating with a rotating cast of talented musicians adds a dynamic element to our performances.
How would you describe the music scene in Winnipeg at the moment?
Our music scene is vibrant! Even though Winnipeg isn’t the biggest city, it has a lot of amazing venues and produces a lot of amazing artists. It’s a tight knit community I’d say. Everyone is out there helping each other out, whether it’s business related or for performances. There’s so many musicians that play in a ton of different bands. It’s amazing.
JASON’S JUKEBOX PICKS
Cowboy Junkies / Such Ferocious Beauty (Latent Recordings)
It seems odd to say, but lately I see Cowboy Junkies almost like AC/DC — bands that found a unique sound at the outset of their careers and haven’t felt any compulsion to alter it. Of course, in Cowboy Junkies’ case, that sound is built upon the highly sophisticated songwriting of guitarist Michael Timmins, and how his words are conveyed by sister Margo. While their creative relationship has encompassed varying degrees of darkness and light over the years, digging into a new Cowboy Junkies album now comes with a weight of expectation often reserved for the publication of a new novel by, say, Cormac McCarthy (RIP). Such Ferocious Beauty is no different, and even after the first listen it can easily hold a place on the darker end of the spectrum of the group’s body of work. Opening track “What I Lost” sets the tone with a narrator who could be viewed as having dementia, trying to hang on to rapidly fading memories. As songs like “Knives” and “Throw A Match” further play out this theme, it’s hard not to feel a palpable sense of Michael’s fatalism, even though it’s been present since they were doing Robert Johnson and Lighting Hopkins covers. The problem is that it’s almost impossible for anyone not to be fatalistic these days, and the album drives that point home in the most direct way with “Hell Is Real,” a song Johnny Cash would have surely covered if he were still around. And although the title of closing track “Blue Skies” might suggest a sense of hope, it is a hope that will forever remain just out of reach. Such Ferocious Beauty is not easy listening, but those of us who have accompanied Cowboy Junkies on every step of their incredible journey for the past 35 years wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit / Weathervanes (Southeastern)
As American roots and country music has fought to become more inclusive over the past few years, Jason Isbell has certainly been leading the charge, being among the few to call out right-wing Nashville hypocrisy and pubicly support new voices such as Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah and others. In part, it’s a result of a lot of personal growth he’s experienced after dealing with his addictions, and with that now seemingly behind him, Jason has emerged as one of the most consistently heart-wrenching lyricists of his generation. That’s on display out of the gate on Weathervanes with “Death Wish,” a cry from the heart from a man dealing with a woman on the brink of losing everything. Another pseudo-intervention occurs on “When We Were Close,” a song about watching helplessly as a friend slips away into the void. The depth of Jason’s storytelling is stunning overall, but what makes Weathervanes one of his greatest triumphs is the The 400 Unit’s performances, captured in a warm production that demands repeated listening. Brutally honest and showcasing a great band at their peak, Weathervanes is an early contender for album of the year.
Son Volt / Day Of The Doug (Transmit Sound)
It’s hard to gauge how many fans of the late Doug Sahm are out there, but wherever they are, they really, really dig him. Speaking as one of those people, as well as a die-hard Son Volt fan, this new 12-track collection of Sahm covers comes as a pleasant surprise, although hardly an unexpected one. Son Volt leader Jay Farrar’s connection to Doug Sahm dates back to their collaboration on Uncle Tupelo’s 1993 album Anodyne, which helped boost Doug’s image as a father of the then-emerging “Americana” sound. What’s strange though is that Jay’s stoic image and delivery never seemed to have much in common with Doug’s often no-holds-barred approach to life both on and off stage. For this reason, Day Of The Doug doesn’t entirely succeed, although it’s nice to hear songs like “Yesterday Got In The Way,” “Seguin” and “It’s Gonna Be Easy” given a fresh coat of paint. If you’re up to do a little searching, a better Sahm tribute is The Bottle Rockets’ 2001 Songs Of Sahm, which reflects more of the unbridled energy of the original versions.