In the middle of doing school work , Pierre Masse sits with us to discuss his latest EP Situations. It looks like a lot of things are going on inside this young man’s head and he is not even over twenty. His philosophies are reflected in the six-track effort, half of the songs sung in French and the other half in English. This Toronto hard-working Science enthusiast has what it takes to be the next ‘it’ guy of acoustic rock. He has a class and musical maturity giving praise to Francis Cabrel as his main influence, along with Sting and other interesting composer, he carved a body of work that deserves attention. He also knows his market. Not too gooey to make it like like radio pop ballads but not too aggressive to kick the guts, he knows balance , style and wit.
What inspired you to write an EP?
Well I had a bunch of songs written and I thought they were good enough to record, and I wanted to record them to get them out of the way and focus on other things, such as working with my band, The Final Year. I had about three or four songs so I wrote a few more to complete the EP, and in the end I was happy with the material I had.
Your thoughts are quite beyond your generation in a sense that you look at life through a bigger scope as reflected in your lyrics. Who influenced you in this kind of thinking?
Whenever I start writing, I try to find a way to express myself that would still be of high quality even if you took away the music. The influences as to the content of the lyrics themselves are the discussions I’ve had with friends, the books I’ve read, or the ideas I’ve had. I guess you could say that with my group of friends we talk about things that are slightly different that the topic of conversation of the usual North American teenager – we discuss politics, society, philosophy, and we read on those things as well. So all that influences my writing quite a bit. I also try to look at things with a very open mind so I can understand concepts and problems from as many different angles and viewpoints as possible. That’s important when you’re trying to understand the world.
Your French songs are remarkable. In the second track you reflect on your relationship with a special person. It is very romantic in a French sort of way. Do you look at life through rose colored glass? Or are you also a cynic?
I’m actually a huge cynic, as some of my lyrics show, but I also have learnt to appreciate the nice things in life, and for the beautiful things I find French is the best language to write in. That’s why some of the romantic songs in French seem very, well, romantic! But whenever I write about love or things that are truly beautiful, I try my hardest no to fall into the cheesy pop mold, and I try to express those things with genuine beauty and feeling.
The third track has a great guitar solo. Your lyrics deal with the feelings of love and the stuff that goes with those feelings. It has a kind of ‘classic’ ballad kind of melody. What inspired your song structure?
That song structure was very much inspired by a French singer/songwriter named Francis Cabrel, who’s an amazing artist. I wrote that song write after having watched one of his live DVDs, so that’s why it’s so similar. Of course I tried to make it my own, but in the end it was very much inspired by his stuff.
All I have to Say was written when you were in Nova Scotia. Do landscapes always have a profound effect on you?
Yes, they do. I have written so many songs in the car, while staring at the landscape, or sitting somewhere in the middle of Nature, taking in the awesome sights. Landscapes can be amazing inspiration that evoke many different feelings and emotions. They’re very powerful, and I try to take their effect and turn it into song material.
The Cycle has that fast beat and critical way of looking at life. Do you see this song being developed in the future in terms of instrumentation?
I’ve thought about it. This song is interesting because I didn’t know what I was going to do with it until I recorded it, and suddenly it all came together. It’s a song I would like to maybe someday elaborate on, add instruments and electrify it. We’ll just have to see…
Imaginations is a tall piece of song writing. it has all the elements of a classic. the narration, the instruments, the background…do you see this kind of style appearing again and again in future recordings?
Yeah, I think so. I was very inspired by French slammers, and I like that style of narrative lyricism with interesting music in the background. I think I’m definitely going to pursue that style and use it again, if not for entire songs, then at least for parts of them. I really like working with that because it really forces your lyrics to be strong.
When I listen to your ballads, I hear an aching groan for great arrangement especially an orchestra or string quartet. Do you thinking you will be able to pursue this when you have enough on hand…say production wise?
I’m definitely going to explore more sophisticated arrangements when I have the production capabilities to do so, but I’m not sure it’s going to be just to enhance my ballads with cheesy string movements. It’s not that I’m against the idea of an orchestra, and if I could I would definitely use one, but I don’t want my songs to turn into melodramatic pop tracks.
Have you ever thought of going into acting as well?
Not seriously, no, but I’ve been in high-school films directed by my friend and I’m definitely interested in doing some music videos, but acting as a whole is not really for me. On stage I need my music.
Who takes the photos? The cover shoot is very beautiful. It reflects the sentiments of the songs…very relaxed and deep.
All the photography is by my girlfriend, Karina Visser – she really knows how to get the right shot for everything, even though she denies it!
Are your folks ever supportive of your music?
Yes, my family has always supported me in my musical endeavours, although they keep reminding me I should pursue a “real” career before launching into music full-time.
what do you collect other than music?
Not much, actually. CDs are basically the only thing I collect for now, although I’m looking at starting a nice guitar collection, but that’s going to take some time and money!
tell me about your fashion sense
I like to seek the balance point between casual/relaxed and dressed-up/fancy – sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don’t.
what’s your birth sign?