Bye Bye Bye Karim: the vigil of friends |  The opportunity to have met Karim Ouellet

Bye Bye Bye Karim: the vigil of friends | The opportunity to have met Karim Ouellet

“One day I will be able to say that I met this guy. This is what Claude Bégin said to his old friend Eman, shortly after his first evenings with Karim Ouellet. “I said that word for word, so when he sang his songs, it was amazing! A few days before a great show in tribute to the one he left us on January 17, his main creative partner tells the story of friendship, music and admiration for him.

Posted at 6:00 am

sunday afternoon

sunday afternoon

Why was Claude Bégin convinced that this shy boy was destined for the highest peaks? He thinks about it for a moment, then offers this simple answer. “There are people, you see it right away. He was better than everyone. He was a true melodist. A true poet. A true poet whose life and music he will celebrate on Sunday night, on the occasion of Bye Bye Bye Karim: Friends’ Vigilalongside Sarahmée (her sister), Ariane Moffatt, Valaire, Hubert Lenoir, Alaclair Ensemble, Fanny Bloom and La Bronze.

It was at 1036 avenue Cartier that their meeting took place, “around the first Accrophone album », so back in 2005. « Karim, at first, was someone who joined us, like many others, in this mixture of after party, youth center and studio. »

Photo Bernard Brault, La presse Archives

Karim Ouellet in the Franks, in June 2014

Building located on the corner of Fraser Street, in Upper Town, where Bégin lived with his family from the age of 14, 1036 became in its time the melting pot for a generation of Quebec artists who had hip-hop in common roots, but ambitions that go beyond the strict limits of the genre.

As soon as a neighbor moved out, I managed to put a friend in the empty apartment, until we had all four apartments to ourselves. Everyone was at everyone’s house all the time, no one called.

claude begin

This is where he and Karim will create and record Pen (2011), fox (2012) and Thirty (2016), the three albums form the majority of Ouellet’s work. Their collaboration took shape naturally after the publication of dendrophile (2009), the only album by the Movezerbe collective. Claude Bégin, who held the controls of the console and the laptop, retains his position. With the autonomy developed by shaping Accrophone albums in autarky, he manages, with few means, to generate all the necessary sounds.

“In the studio, infinity belonged to us. They will contribute together, combining the irrefutable fox melodies with elements of rap, soul and reggae, so that the FM airwaves in Quebec are finally anchored to the sounds of the pop planet. The monstrous success of Love, in 2013, it boosts Karim, who will be on all stages, as well as the director’s career of Claudius. “It took me a long time to really get to know Karim,” she recalls. Even when he became my best friend, he kept the famous shell of his. I never managed to break it. »

So how do you explain the two of you getting along so well? “First of all, we’re two Sagittarians, totally rational,” Claude points out, smiling broadly, but a residue of sadness in his eyes. Sagittarians love each other very much. Karim and I call him the Sagittarius. We liked each other’s ideas, which made it super fast. found me full well, I thought it was very good. Mutual admiration is the best ingredient. »

extraordinary camaraderie

Like many of Karim Ouellet’s close associates, Claude Bégin was no longer in contact with his friend at the time of his death. His explanation will be modest. “Little by little, for many reasons, we saw each other less. The goal was not to stop seeing each other. We took the means to force things, but there was nothing to do. »

Photo Ulysse Lemerise, LA PRESSE archive

Claude Bégin and Karim Ouellet at the inaugural Pride Montreal show in 2017

The director, still visibly shaken, says that he was able to experience his mourning quickly, in particular thanks to an intimate ceremony organized at his home in the country by his sister Élise Bégin, after the funeral. “We had a kind of communion with candles, music. We sing, we have moments of silence, we all hold hands. it was extraordinary »

In anticipation of Sunday’s show, Claude Bégin has been listening to the songs created with Karim for the past few weeks, to learn half of the lyrics he doesn’t know at his fingertips: “because I only did choruses on stage in the other half “, he laughs. And inevitably, the greater, almost disturbing, place that death occupies in these texts upsets him.

Of course, the letter took on another, darker meaning. There’s so much pain there, but when we were recording, it’s like I didn’t see it. Sometimes he gives the impression that he knew what was coming.

claude begin

A voice like an organ

Beyond the mystery he cultivated, although probably a bit of a prisoner of it, Karim Ouellet never seemed to reveal himself as much as through his voice, with a richness that suddenly made it possible to believe in something greater than himself, as if his soul lodged in his vocal cords. “There are people for whom what goes through their eyes is more. For Karim, there was more to the voice,” observes Bégin, who for a long time thought that having a voice was enough to have an interesting voice.

“But I ended up realizing that there are people with stronger voices. We have vocal crushes and Karim is one of those that the public had a crush on. There was wind passing through his vocal cords and when we dubbed his voice in the studio, he became like an organ. »

Karim is gone, but perhaps he was never so present in Claude Bégin’s heart, as in his right arm, which has been tattooed on his face for several months. It will happen a few times during this interview that Bégin talks about his musical brother in the present, instead of the past. “Yes, it’s true, I didn’t realize that. It has also happened that Karim visits Claude in his dreams.

Photo Anne Gauthier, LA PRESSE archive

Karim Ouellet (here with Laurent Saulnier) won the Félix-Leclerc award in 2013

“Dreams are for fixing deals. She needed to remember old Karim, the real one. During one of these most memorable visits, Karim asked Claude what he wanted him to bring home for the night. A great wine? A good bottle of rum? “It was like he wanted us to have the perfect chill! He was super emotional, because I replied: “Well, no, Karim, we can’t see each other.” But deep down, perhaps he was preparing the chill that we may experience when we meet at the end of all that. »

Does Claude really believe in that, in possible reunions, in another world? “Since i saw Interstellar, I have the impression that everything happens at the same time. meet again? We may not have gotten lost, actually. »

Bye Bye Bye Karim: Friends’ Vigilon June 12 on the Bell stage of the place des Festivals.

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