PREMIERE + Q&A: Anomalie Personifies His Namesake in ‘Métropole Part II’

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According to the all-knowing dictionary.com, an anomaly is "a deviation from the common rule" or "one that does not fit in." A surname so fitting for Montréal producer Nicolas Dupuis who has become known for his avant-garde approach to electronic music. As Dupuis gears up for the release of his newest body of work, Métropole Part II, due out Oct. 5, Anomalie plans to obliterate the rules of electronic music in pursuit of a genre uniquely his own.

Though deeply engrossed in his study of classical and jazz piano performance for 17 years, Anomalie began to steadily build a loyal fan following for his original music in his hometown of Montréal. After producer, Gramatik saw Anomalie soloing over his beats on Instagram in 2016, the producer invited him to be his touring keyboardist and offered to put out his first EP, Métropole under Gramatik's label Lowtemp. Since its release in June 2017, the first EP has been received with tremendous support from electronic, funk, R&B, and jazz music fans worldwide.

A virtuoso on the piano and an artist dedicated to perfecting his live performance, Dupuis's rise to fame as a solo act was accelerated tremendously by posting videos of him shredding the keys on social media, many of which quickly became viral sensations. Additionally, the massive success of his 2017 release "Velours" off Métropole has garnered him fans internationally and the praise of notable artists such as Snarky Puppy, Charlie Puth, Thundercat, Kamasi Washington, Bruno Major, Polyphia, and more! 

This brings us to eve of his second release Métropole Part II, the second installment of the two-part project inspired by his hometown of Montréal, Quebec. In a stunning seven-track EP, Dupuis musically reminisces on the various places in Montréal that are closest to his heart. Each track brings forth various emotions and layers of musicality that showcase Dupuis's integrity on his instrument and dedication to his very personal message.

In a massive of collide of classical, jazz, and funk the listener gets a thrilling taste of Dupuis's musical world, filled to the brim with musical anomalies. Intro track "Canal" and the final track "Fin" brings forth some strong dream-like, impressionist feels, reminiscent of Claude Debussy or Maurice Ravel, of course with a layer of funk to keep you grooving.  We see the jazz influence ring strong in middle tracks "Notre-Dame Est," "Crescent," and "Notre-Dame Ouest," as Dupuis channels cool jazz and even some bebop, seemingly-inspired by the likes of Thelonious Monk or Dave Brubeck. Yet, while paying homage to music that many today consider "high art," Dupuis always manages to maintain pop palatability by introducing modern pop music flair with a healthy dose of electronic and hip-hop inspired beats and sonorities.

But don't take it from us, hear from the musical mastermind himself as we dive into the details behind this epic new release and what is in store next for Anomalie. 

OTW: How did you come up with the name Anomalie?

Dupuis: I was initially looking for a name that was spelled in French, but that could also be pronounced in English and other languages. “Anomalie” made sense since it represented the “unconventional” approach I had/have of producing music that’s influenced by many genres and has a performed instrument (the keyboard) as the centerpiece. I still think it’s appropriate, but it’s definitely not unconventional in today’s world where more and more instrumentalists are stepping into the production scene, and where most genres are actually hybrids with multiple influences.

OTW: Though you are a classically trained pianist, what inspired you to move more towards a jazz-funk music realm?

Dupuis: During high school, I started “producing” electronic tracks with Garage Band, and most of the music I was listening to was electronic (Deadmau5, Wolfgang Gartner, Koan Sound and Skrillex later on, etc.). I was fascinated by all the synths they used and I was convinced that all those sounds were played in real time, so my approach early on was to record similar sounds by performing them on the keyboard. I later discovered that it was rarely the case in electronic music, which is totally fine, but when I found out about Herbie Hancock and the jazz fusion world where they actually shredded amazing solos with synth sounds, I was in heaven. I did a 4-year program studying jazz performance and played in a couple of ensembles, after which I was introduced to a local hip hop jam session in Montreal. I joined the house band and discovered a whole world there, which I absolutely loved. All of those experiences and my classical background heavily contributed to what Anomalie is today. 

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OTW: Ever since your debut EP Métropole dropped in 2017, it has garnered lots of attention from listeners all around the world. What/who were some of your biggest inspirations for the creation of this project?

Dupuis: Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, J Dilla, Oscar Peterson, Skrillex, Brahms, Stravinski, Ennio Morricone, Vangelis, D'Angelo, MJ, Quincy Jones

OTW: You sold out your first ever Canadian/North American tour earlier this year with a four-piece band. Now you're set to tour Europe and Asia with them this Fall. How did you go about putting together your band? How does the band recreate your productions live?

Dupuis: What I call “the old Anomalie” started in 2012. It was a way different project back then, in many many ways, so I like to think of Métropole as the start of the current Anomalie, even if the project evolves in various directions moving forward. When it did start back then though, I was already playing with a live band for local shows in Montréal. It consisted of some great friends I made during the Jazz Performance program at Cégep Saint-Laurent. I still play with them and an awesome drummer I met at the hip-hop jam session, LeCypher (which is still going on every Thursday at Bootlegger, it’s absolutely amazing.) It definitely was a challenge to start with the live band right away for the first tour, since there are so many aspects to consider and work on, given the nature of the set, and they are all very, very time consuming. But it’s incredibly rewarding, and I’m so grateful for those guys, they’re great people and great musicians. I re-arrange the song so that everyone performs the main parts of the tracks, with tons of patches and effects. What we can’t play on top of what we’re already playing, I leave in the backing tracks.

OTW: Your second EP Métropole Part II is set to release on Oct 5th. What can listeners expect from this EP? Is there a stark contrast between Métropole and Métropole Part II, or are they cohesive sonically?

Dupuis: It’s definitely a continuity of the first one, with a shared theme and sonic universe. I would say that it’s a bit less electronic, and even more focused on the piano as a lead instrument.

OTW: Can we expect any collaborations with other artists in the future?

Dupuis: Yes, this upcoming year is all about collaborations. Métropole as a series is about my own creative, sonic universe, whereas for all future releases I am definitely interested in working with as many different people as possible.

OTW: Who are some of your Ones to Watch?

Dupuis: Tennyson has been so inspiring for me since I discovered them, I look forward to every release with lots of excitement. The amount of detail in each track is crazy. Knower and Louis Cole’s solo stuff are also crazy, and the direction they’re taking with the live band/big band stuff is huge. One of the most inspiring phenomenons I’ve been following very closely though is the rise of crazy talented and hard-working young (sometimes surprisingly young!?) musicians. Check these people out on Instagram: Aron the bassist, Justin “baby boy drummer”, Justin Lee Schultz, Domi and JD Beck. Craaazy. 

Take an exclusive sneak peek at Métropole Part II below + experience the musical magic live on Anomalie's fall, 2018 international tour!

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