A July Afternoon with Julien May

Montreal’s Lafontaine Park was the perfect outdoor venue for Julien May to introduce his island-sounding, summer-sweet lineup for his next EP.

After a decade of hard rock bands, Julien May is going-it alone, pursuing a solo career of light-sounding island pop. Nestled along an alcove of a pedestrian path in front of the water, with stone seats dividing and rounding the grass in front of him, May chose a natural setting with natural seating to perform four original songs and a few highly-appropriate, cover-song favourites. With sunshine and a light breeze, Julien was accompanied only by Djembe player, Francis Fugere (aka Franky), making the sound and energy even more authentic.

Julien May Photo

May told WATS that the illusion or fantasy of a beach vibe, an island life with soft music sounds that seem to blend into their beautiful surroundings, is exactly the core of how his songs were created. Julien May has spent the last decade doing the opposite, sharing the stage with big-name rock-music talents, with most recent success as the bass player of the award-winning band, The New Cities. While May has proven that he is a very versatile musician he said that what came out of his solo album was almost a rejection or release from his former projects as a rock musician. “It was the idea of the complete opposite of the whole touring life, loud music and high pitched vocals. I just needed something completely different, like kind of a fantasy life I would lead. I was always eating bad food, not sleeping and always stressed out. After going to the Caribbean a few times I really enjoyed the local sounds and wanted to create something that would allow me to escape to this fake life I would lead through my songs,” May says.

While touring with the New Cities for the past 5 years, May would get himself through down-time by writing: “Every time we would show up early at a venue I would just take a guitar and play quietly to not disturb the guys who needed to rest. I had written about 50 songs by the end of that 4-5 years.”

Since 2003, Universal helped in developing and perfecting his individual musical style while also acting as a launch pad for his hidden collection of personal songs. Saturday afternoon, Julien sang to the outdoor crowd with a clear and calm voice, but would occasionally bring out a grain and grit during chorus’ familiar to his electro rock days. His descriptive lyrics allowed the audience to escape with him to a light-hearted, warm and playful destination. The crowd particularly enjoyed May’s classic summer anthems, including The Beach Boys’ “Surfing USA” and Sublime’s “What I Got” . The most interesting cover was a creative and original interpretation of Daft Punk’s latest hit, “Get Lucky”, featuring an incredible percussion solo.

Julien May is scheduled to officially launch his EP August 27th at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto where he currently resides. May hopes to continue being present in the three cities he has roots in, Montreal, Toronto and LA. He happily agreed to keep WATS Montreal in the loop for his next all-inclusive getaway performance. We couldn’t be happier.

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