The Scene: How Montreal’s Laid-Back Vibe Inspires Artists

Canada is the second largest country in the world, and the birthplace of famous artists like Justin Bieber, Drake, The Weeknd, Shania Twain, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Alessia Cara, Grimes and Carly Rae Jepsen. So, in the third part of Rolling Stone‘s video series, “The Scene,” our correspondent Afika Nxumalo visits the laid-back city of Montreal to explore the musical talents and hidden gem venues that make up Quebec’s diverse, bilingual oasis.

Blessed with European aesthetic influences – cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways – Montreal draws a smorgasbord of creative talents who seek out the city’s low cost of living and nurturing environment.

“I feel like it’s easier for artists to spend the majority of their time doing their actual art, which I don’t think is possible in any other major city in the world,” singer-songwriter Kroy tells us. Singer Un Blonde adds: “[The] cost of living is so low that one can take control of their schedule. One is not forced to work a five-day week, a seven-day week, at all. If somebody does that, then they’re very, very comfortable.”

Music festivals like POP Montreal fest also provide the space and resources for up-and-coming artists to develop their sound without financial, commercial pressures to distract them.

“Philosophically, it was really important for us as we grew the festival to maintain that connection to the community, to the artistic community of Montreal, the scene here,” Dan Seligman, the creative director of the festival, tells us. “I feel like in other cities that are more industry-focused, whether it’s L.A. or New York or Toronto, the spotlight’s on you right from the beginning. Here you can grow [your music] and cultivate it a little more.”

We also make a stop by Mount Royal, where musicians and music lovers gather every weekend for the Tam-Tams, a free festival of music and dance where Montréalais gather.

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