Meet masked Montreal musician Delachute

“The character best expresses the new emotions I was trying to convey with the music.”

Who’s that masked Montrealer making a splash on Spotify with his mysterious tales of melancholy?

Well, we’re not going to answer that question just yet, as he wants to stay anonymous just a little longer. But with his first EP about to drop, comprised of the four songs he’s already released plus two more, Delachute may not be able to remain in the shadows for long.

“First off, I thought it looked cool,” Delachute said of his mask. “But also, before the project I wasn’t a big social media guy, so I felt more comfortable posting as a character than as myself. The character also best expresses the new emotions I was trying to convey with the music.”

One hint, in case you were wondering: the 32-year-old is not a scene vet under a pseudonym. You’d be forgiven for thinking he has industry bonafides, since his sound was pretty realized from the drop and the EP was produced in collaboration with powerhouse Arcade Fire engineer Mark Lawson. Turns out Delachute cold-emailed him and was surprised when Lawson came back impressed.

Perhaps it’s the understated emotional heft in the music that impressed Lawson? There’s a hint of the macabre in Delachute’s tales of woe. His vocals often barely register above a welp, with homebaked percussion that can feel like an uncomfortable rustling. It’s not downer music, though — it’s more a cathartic dance in the mire. A word Delachute used to describe his sound: optimistic.

Inspiration for the project and mask came from his previous day job in the Canadian judicial system. It was a gig that involved spending time with both grieving families and the convicted criminals who wronged them, and music became a personal outlet in between intense days being stoic at work. It’s important to note no details of these cases will ever make it into the music — it’s more just the feelings Delachute experienced. In no way did he want to mine these people’s lives for his own benefit.

“It’s a job where you never show your emotions while you’re with working with people, but when you’re alone in your car coming back home, that’s where you kind of think more and try to make sense out of these things,” he explained.

Ultimately, he didn’t want the songs to be sad because if there’s one emotion he wanted to capture from his time working there, it was resilience. Once he had an idea of the types of songs he wanted to make as Delachute, he began work on bringing them to life.

“Writing and recording was an organic process. It was mostly all done in my apartment,” he said. “I didn’t want there to be any separation. I wanted it to sound like a home recording.”

The special sauce he concocted at home garnered an immediate response. Debut single “Caligula” was added Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist and stream counts soared. The man with no paper trail became a hit with the algorithms that be. “Sophia,” “Perchaude” and “Ax” then followed.

The first project is ready for release, and Delachute says he’ll begin recording new songs for the next one. He lost his rehearsal space, so for the meantime he can’t plot a live show, or figure out how he’ll sing in a mask. Maybe his identity will be revealed by then? Either way, he’s not too concerned about his inevitable unmasking.

“I’m not going to be too strict about keeping everything a secret,” he said. “Right now, with the pandemic and everything online, it makes sense to keep it going a little longer. But I know I’ll have to show my face at some point.” ■

Delachute EP is out on Friday, March 19. For more, please visit his Bandcamp page.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.