“Mario Lepage is going to ask you, the public, what his new band name should be: Mario, or Luigi,” says Mario Lepage himself.
He isn’t actually going to do that.
However, Lepage is serious about the name change. His band of the same name has seen tremendous success in 2014, and the next step is a recorded EP and a rebranding. The Fransaskois musician Lepage is like a rising tide in the Saskatoon music scene, and you’re going to have to pick up your towel or dive in.
If you haven’t heard the music of Mario Lepage, then you probably haven’t heard him live. Fluid and energetic, the sound of the Mario Lepage band has never hit tape. Even as a solo musician, however, Lepage has only released a sparse number of recordings, including Wilfred. Despite this, they’ve played four 2014 festivals, including the Regina Folk Festival and Ness Creek.
“We waited so long [to record] because we wanted to get a word-to-mouth following, an underground following, y’know like ‘Oh, have you heard of this band? You have to see them, they barely have anything.’ The stuff that we have on the internet, it’s not even the band, it’s just my production and my own stuff.”
It’s a working strategy. His launch party for the single Le Vrai Sort packed Amigos from the stout up, leaving no room for head. A live performance with the band is a psychedelic journey from eardrum to eardrum, leaving no cranium unaffected in the audience. It is the brainchild of Mario Lepage, but the project consists of four members.
“Adam plays guitar and synth. He’s got a way of making the song breath. He adds clarity, and he makes it more interstellar. Danny holds it down like a true bassist, he’s super solid. He’s got this sweet touch, but he’s got these little twinkles he adds.”
He’s talking about effects pedals here, not stars. If you’re listening for those bass delay tracks live though, you may as well be stargazing.
“And Kyle, instantly when I talked to him, I knew that it was him that was supposed to play in the band. I met someone I thought I should have met in another life.”
Lepage grew up in St. Denis, Saskatchewan, a small community roughly an hour North-West of Saskatoon. Devoid of the kind of music scene Saskatoon experiences, Lepage feels like the solitude of his hometown helped foster his creative aptitude.
After St. Denis, but before his current project, Lepage played with Miss Daily, a French-rock four piece, and rapper Shawn Jobin. The Mario Lepage project was originally a one-piece set with a cacophony of loops, but has since evolved to become the kind of collaborative it is. “My band mates really inspire me to write in a certain way,” says Lepage.
There was a point this project’s history that saw Lepage performing solo with a computer and a limited array of equipment, at open mics and house parties for five to fifteen people. That was just over two years ago. Since then, Lepage has won a creative writing grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board and toured a humble festival circuit.
The band recordings should hopefully be ready for release by next summer’s festival circuit. Lepage is enlisting the recording expertise of Francis Collard, who has worked notably with Ariane Moffatt as a producer, as well as with Cirque de Soleil in several production roles for the show Delirium.
The new name for Mario Lepage is as yet unreleased, but the excite for local psych is here and growing. It’s upwards and onwards for the project formerly known as Mario Lepage, from toadstool to the top.