Monthly Archives: April 2013

Photo post: The view from Mont Alban, Nice, French Riviera

Nice French Riviera View A Storytelling Home Lea

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that in the fall of 2009, I spent one semester abroad, studying in the south of France.

In terms of school, it was a terrible experience. You can read a bit about it here if you’d like to know my thoughts on Nice Sophia-Antipolis University (or at least, the INFOCOM program).

However, the (nearly constant) blue skies and beautiful coasts adorned with adorable houses and gorgeous flora made it all worth it.

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Five artists to discover: April 2013 edition

Tokyo summer festival

Here is what I’ve been listening to during the month of April: Once again, I’m noticing that my taste in music is all over the place, so I hope you discover something you like!

Annie: Music aficionados have been paying attention to the Swedish pop scene for years now, embracing the work of singers Robyn and Lykke Li. However, audacious pop music is also being produced in the country right next door, without garnering the same amount of praise or consideration.

Norway’s Annie is a pop star for the indie fans. She and her team of musician friends meld infectious beats together with different elements of sonority that create what the artist herself calls ‘pop with strange edges’.

Zion T: Kpop tends to be all about the big beats and bands with more members than most people have fingers. Here’s something different: Zion T.His sound is more akin to that of Justin Timberlake or Jamiroquai. An interesting change of pace in the sea of boy and girl bands!

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Dreaming of Istanbul: when a city casts a spell on you

I still see myself at 15, spending hours skimming the pages of Taschen’s gorgeous book, Turkey: from the Seljuks to the Ottomans. I don’t know why but that country’s history and culture compelled me the minute I started to learn more about it.

I developed a fascination for Hagia Sophia, the famous basilica turned mosque that is now a museum. For some mysterious reason, I felt so drawn to it’s majestic architecture which was so incredibly different to anything I’d ever seen.

Hagia Sophia Istanbul A Storytelling Home Lea Plourde-Archer

Seeing the city of Istanbul became a major goal on my bucket list.

I finally got to fulfill that dream in the fall of 2009, as my boyfriend and I spent a semester abroad in France. During our fall break, we traveled from Nice to Milan, Milan to Athens and finally, Athens to Istanbul (our return trip, via Sofia, Bulgaria, was just as complicated).

Blue mosque Istanbul A Storytelling Home Lea Plourde-Archer

There it was. The city I’d been dreaming of for years now. Sure, I’d fallen over heels in love with other places like Barcelona, Paris and Venice, but Istanbul was something else. Something I’d never felt before. Was it the frenzied streets and the sinuous alleys of the bazaars? The sparkling lights of the Bosphorus bridge? The hypnotizing chants of the calls to prayer that rung 5 times a day? I haven’t yet been able to put words on what exactly drew me so much to that particular part of the world.

Lucky eye Istanbul A Storytelling Home Lea Plourde-Archer

What I do know is that I have a general fascination with regions of the world where many cultures have mixed over the course of history. Istanbul’s past is characterized by the numerous populations that came and made their mark here. People have been stopping by for thousands of years and this fact is constantly visible, yet, Istanbul doesn’t feel totally stuck in the past like other places with such a large number of ancient monuments.

Pastry shop, Istanbul, A Storytelling Home, Lea Plourde-Archer

Istanbul is rich in past and fresh and lively in the present.

I miss it, and I will be there again one day.

Fishermen Istanbul A Storytelling Home Lea Plourde-Archer

Cat in the rocks, Istanbul, A Storytelling Home, Lea Plourde-Archer

Has any city or place you’ve visited around the world ever had such a major impact on you?

Montreal 2013 festival lineups announced: bands to discover at the Francofolies

It’s that time of the year again! One of the first signs that the warm season is on it’s way: all the summer festivals are starting to release their lineups.

Montreal has it’s fair share of festivals, especially in the months between June and September. Everyone is sure to find something they like (cinema, african music, jazz music, LGBT culture and comedy all have their big celebrations scheduled in the upcoming months).

Yesterday, the Francofolies festival indoor lineup was announced.

The Francofolies is an annual music festival held during the month of June in the core of downtown Montreal, at the Place des festivals and at concert halls in the surrounding area. The artists that participate in this 10 day long event all hail from francophone countries (in Canada, Europe and Africa).

If I may say, I personally find the lineup to be disappointingly safe so far, but I will wait until the outdoor concerts are announced, as we tend to be pretty lucky in terms of artists that are invited to give free shows (in the past, we’ve had great concerts by some of my favorite artists like Angélique Kidjo and Thomas Fersen).

Nevertheless, here are a few artists who’s presence is already confirmed and that deserve to be checked out according to me (either in concert or via Youtube, if you can’t make it to Montreal) :

Avec pas d’casque: Gorgeous, at times intricate, other times raw lo-fi folk/country music.

1995: Clearly influenced by french rap of the nineties (hence the name), this young sextet is made up of 5 MCs and 1 DJ.

Violett Pi: Hard to describe, this group’s music is a hybrid of many things, including punk, funk and screaming. Not for everyone but adventurous ears shall be rewarded.

Cargo Culte: The coarse rhymes of rapper Séba,  over heavy, dark beats composed by seasoned local musicians Alex Mcmahon and JF Lemieux. Click here to watch video (embedding denied)

Mama Rosin: You’d think this band was born in a bayou but they are based in Switzerland. These Cajun-style rockers have garnered many fans during tours across Europe and the Southern United States, but they are still relatively unknown here, where they are opening for a bigger name: Lisa Leblanc.

Eiffel: French rock band that would rather not be compared to their (somewhat overbearing) older brother Noir Désir (but the link in sound and style is inevitable). Nevertheless, they’ve managed to carve their own sound by going towards melodies that are more influenced by pop and even the electro stylings of such groups as Gorillaz.