Montreal-based duo CRi just passed another milestone for local artists: Performing at Osheaga. Comprised of Christophe Dubé and Ourielle Auvé (during live performances), the electronica group formed in 2013. Their sound is reminiscent of early James Blake, with clipped audio samples looping over synth beats and droning organs. There’s an inherent darkness to their music, but the most interesting part of their sound is the moments of levity that shine through. This becomes especially apparent in their live performances, where their inhibitions seem to fade away as they get lost in performing. Perhaps this is why, unlike many electronic musicians, the duo prefers the live stage over the studio.
“You can just be so close with the people in your music,” Dubé said. “When you produce music in the studio, it’s more abstract. It’s not like [the] real thing.”
With a more explicit audience to tend to, the band has to adjust their performance to the feeling they get from the crowd. Through previous live performances, they’ve developed a keen sense of how they want their music to come across.
“[The goal is] to create an energy and a flow that you totally control,” Auvé explained. “In the beginning, it’s very calm and mystical, and the bass starts to push very hard and it’s more dance-y […] it’s a build up.”
They built this sound at the Université de Montréal’s digital music program, where they first met. After graduating, the duo further branched out into the growing community of Montreal-based electronic artists, but have yet to notice a regional fixation on one type of electronic music.
“Technically, it’s very helpful to study [digital music] at a university—all of the philosophy about how to make music, how to share your sound with people” Dubé said.“I think there is no Montreal electronic sound. It’s more like different people from different places in the world come to Montreal to make music.”
The fact that CRi’s sound isn’t limited to any sole subgenre of electronica is indicative of this. Although they admit to benefit from the influence of their peers, the band has also paradoxically been able to use their experience as a means of asserting their musical independence.
“You see people with different backgrounds and [it] kind of makes you go in your own direction,” Auvé said.