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An Interview with Television Child/Daniel Berthiaume














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A while ago I was looking at various rare videos on YouTube (a guilty pleasure of mine), and I was rather pleasantly shocked to discover the music of Television Child.  This was basically a one-man band that came out of the Montreal New Wave scene back in the early 80s.  It was the brainchild of Daniel Berthiaume, a very talented multi-instrumentalist who created some excellent synthesizer based tunes that sounded very similar to the work of OMD, Kraftwerk and the Human League.  I was very happy to discover these rare, excellent songs that had been tucked away under the sands of time.  I actually tracked down Daniel and found out that he is now based in France, and is still as busy as ever with his music.  Here's our interview:

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1.  How old were you when you started to make music?

I started when I was around fifteen. My brother had a band and they were rehearsing in the basement of the house, where the equipment was permanently at my disposal, so it was a thrill for me to pick up a guitar when there was no one around.

2.  Who are some of your musical influences?

I will give you a few names without any order of time and pertinence.  James Taylor, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Vangelis, Gary Numan, Soft Cell, Duran Duran, The Fixx, Thomas Dolby, Japan (David Sylvain).

3.  Please tell us about Television Child.  When was this band formed?  Were you the only member of the band?

It was a project I started alone after leaving a band called The Holes, who were touring in Clubs and Bars in Quebec doing covers of  Led Zep, The Who, and many other cult bands. I was attracted to the New British Invasion – New Wave Music, and wanted to do more electronics than guitar playing. They were no other musicians with me, except the sound engineer Richard Trudeau.  He was the owner of a recording studio on the south shore of Montreal, and had been my partner for all the steps of this project. I consider him as much an artist as any other musician.

4.  What was the music scene like in Montreal at that time?  Do you have any interesting stories from those days?

Downtown Montreal was a place with many bars on Stanley, and Ste Catherine (Station 10, Glace, Checkers) who hired bands playing original stuff. It was funny to see how the musical styles were totally different in the west side of town as opposed to St-Denis Street and the old Montreal with the folk styles and Quebec French singers. As a French Canadian I’ve been often considered a disloyal artist, even from journalists.

5.  What synthesizers did you use back then?

My first synth was a Poly Korg with two oscillators that I usually use for the bass.  I was also using a Wurlitzer with pedals:  echoes, flangers, ring tone, wah-wah, fuzz, everything that could make it sound weird. Finally I had a Yamaha string keyboard.

6.  I understand that you are talking with Anna Logue Records about possibly reissuing some of those old recordings.  How is that going?

Well I’ve got a lot of other things going on actually, and it’s not a priority for me even though I would love to spend time on it. The first step would be to find the tapes in Montreal and bring them to France to clean and re-master.

7.  I read that you recorded a dozen songs at Studio Audio Cinetics.  What was it like recording those songs?  Was it an enjoyable process or was it challenging?

It was pure creation without thinking of the commercial side of music. At each session we had the impression that we were recreating the world.

8.  Did you ever have contact with any of the other Montreal synth bands at that time, like Rational Youth or Men Without Hats?

I had good relations with Allan McCarthy, Men without Hats’ Keyboard Player. I’ve talked a few times with Ivan and his brother Stephen, the other members of the band; and they stole from me my sound engineer Paul Lepage… No, in fact I was happy that Paul started to work and tour with them. Allan was my manager later on for six months. 

9.  Please tell us about the music you are doing now.  How would you describe it?

I’m really into different things. I just finished a song to raise awareness for Aids with Daniel Powter, Justin Nozuka, and many more artists. I am re-editing my new age ambient catalogue for downloading on iTunes, and I work with a blues band called the Bluegators.

10.  I understand that you are currently based in France.  What brought you to that country?

A woman….

11.  How do you compose songs?  Do you write lyrics or music first?

Both lyrics and music at the same time on a one nanosecond flash, with weeks of corrections and erasing.

12.  What other interests do you have besides music?

Astrophysics; I’m a fan of Hubert Reeves. Guitar playing; I admire Eric Johnson. Zen Meditation. Pataphysics  (Alfred Jarry). Montreal Canadians, even if sometimes I’m ashamed of the club we have.

13.  Do you perform live frequently?

Almost every night on the Riviera, with my band, from May to September.

14.  Is there anywhere on the internet where people can learn more about your music?

Links are the following:

 

Facebook Fan Info

 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/DANIEL-BERTHIAUME/91014329720?ref=ts

 

Television Child

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6YuM_QHN84&feature=channel

 

 If (words and Music Daniel Berthiaume)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H54e9qSiXC0

 

Agir Réagir (words and Music Daniel Berthiaume)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duamOWcA_Ww&feature=channel

 

The Bluegators

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csMBzmEbGMo&feature=related

 

My Space

 

http://www.myspace.com/danielberthiaume

 

 

Albums on iTunes

 

http://itunes.apple.com/cdn/artist/daniel-berthiaume/id336427202

 

http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/daniel-berthiaume/id336427202

 http://itunes.apple.com/es/artist/daniel-berthiaume/id336427202

 http://itunes.apple.com/jp/artist/daniel-berthiaume/id336427202