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  • The Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With André Bisson


Photo Credit: Ken Wallis.



No-one would ever accuse André Bisson of being a loner ‘cause when he takes the stage, he brings a multitude of musicians with him. Known for his solid orchestration, songwriting, guitar playing and vocals, André loves including a multitude of talented musicians when he records as well as when playing live. With nine studio albums under his belt, he’s garnered awards and a multitude of fans along the way.


Ken Wallis interviewed André Bisson for the radio show, BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview edited for length and clarity.





Ken Wallis

André Bison has a new album out, it’s called The Ballad of Lucy Stone and we're happy to have André join us.


André Bisson

Always happy to be here, thanks for having me.


Ken Wallis

The title of the album is The Ballad of Lucy Stone. Tell us who Lucy Stone was, and what that's all about.


André Bisson

I first heard about Lucy Stone in a book I was reading. Basically, Lucy Stone was a women's rights activist in the mid-1800s, and I'm always drawn to people who kind of take on these impossible tasks. As we know music sometimes seems like an impossible task. At that time, for her to take on this task and to risk everything, including her life, where everybody was against her, it was very uplifting to me, and I wanted to look more into this person.


So, I got a couple biographies and dug a bit deeper and what I found was, as a result of her doing so much work, she was kind of lost in history, because when they were literally writing the book on women's suffrage, they asked her to write her own part.Everybody else in the book is now more well-known, but she said the work's not done yet. She really didn't want to waste her time talking about all the great things she'd done because the work was still there. As a result, she isn't very well-known. I just really got inspired and that's where the song’s inspiration comes from. I felt, if I can do this song and talk about her on radio shows or at live shows, I could get her name out there and people could search her online and hopefully kind of be Inspired like I was. She was all about change.

Ken Wallis

And I think your album is all about change too.


André Bisson

Yeah, change and perspective and the way we look at things. A lot of the songs start to gravitate that way and looking at situations differently to see the advantages or disadvantages.


Ken Wallis

You often put together a big band sound and once again you've done it on this album


André Bisson

Yes, it seems to get out of hand sometimes [LAUGH], but I think with each album you learn a little bit more, in terms of arranging and writing and working with great musicians and it becomes an education. When you bring in some new players you start seeing what the possibility of the instrument is and hearing the blend and how they go together. Now with a lot of songs because of the content and the kind of the deeper meaning of all the songs, I like to look at the music almost as a soundtrack to the lyrics. For me there's a lot of dynamics that come in and out with the songs.


Ken Wallis

Do you basically write the lyrics first, then go to the music?


André Bisson

It really depends. With The Ballad of Lucy Stone, I was thinking of this this kind of like Industrial Revolution kind of sound and I always thought it's a very exciting time where there was change, and just kind of picturing an image that kind of comes to mind, with an industrial sound. It was gritty and it's kind of what I hear in my head. Then I just kind of had that idea and I just started writing down little phrases and things like that. As it builds, you just think with the strings, how can I really make this big at certain points to really emphasize it. Hence, the 20 plus instruments that are on this song.


Ken Wallis

How would you describe the music on this album?

André Bisson

It's always hard to describe but I would say it’s eclectic in terms of the instrumentation, and I wouldn't say it's one way or the other, but definitely more roots based, blues and roots. I would say with more acoustic instruments, including acoustic guitar and the strings, violins, cellos, that have kind of lent itself to more that sound.


Ken Wallis

And who plays on the album with you?


André Bisson

So, we have a lot of a lot of regulars. Loretta Hale on trumpet and cello, Jesse O'Brien on keys, Keegan Early on drums, Mike Rowell on bass, and a bunch of great special guests. Quisha Wint on vocals, there's a lot of people, I’m trying to think of everybody who played on it. It was great bringing people I've used all the time because your writing is actually influenced by the people that you play with. You start writing knowing what's possible because of what they do and then bringing in some new people like Selena Evangeline as well on backing vocals. She and Quisha, the two of them really changed the sound. It gets your mind working on what the possibilities are in terms of even vocals, backing vocals and textures and all those different things.

Ken Wallis

You mentioned Loretta Hale, she's just been nominated for horn player of the year for The Maple Blues Awards.

André Bisson

Yeah, and as well I should mention Pat Carey on saxophone. He's all over the album. It's always a pleasure to play with him as well.


Ken Wallis

One song that really sticks out for me is Missing You, it's quite poignant.


André Bisson

That one started as a writing exercise. Sometimes I just I start with I want to write something that's kind of horn heavy, that features kind of this STAX Records, but a couple of corporate chord progressions, kind of Motown. Then the lyrics came afterwards. I had the Missing You kind of tagline, so that was one where it was the music kind of came first, and then it was an afterthought of what the song should be about. Every song is a little bit different for me but a lot of them kind of start as little exercises where I don't know if I'm going to do anything with it. I think that takes the pressure off of writing a song when you just say it's an exercise. I might not do anything with it and then all of a sudden that kind of frees up your mind. You don't overthink things as much because of that.


Ken Wallis

It's a well-constructed album. Where can fans get a hold of it?


André Bisson

They can come to my website at andrebisson.ca. It's all over streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music. Also at our live shows, we’ll have physical copies as well.


Ken Wallis

It's a terrific album and I want to thank you for your time André. It's been great chatting with you once again.


André Bisson

It’s been great, thanks so much Ken





Website: www.andrebisson.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrebissonband

Instagram: www.instagram.com/andrebissonmusic