What to do in Montreal today Ouri by Kane

Ouri releases her future-facing debut album Frame of a Fauna

The album is out now on the Montreal artist’s own imprint, Born Twice.

Emotional highs and lows often make great art, and that’s exactly what Montreal’s Ouri has fused together on her first album. Moving to Montreal from France at the age of 16 before beginning her career as a producer in 2015, Ouri (born Ourielle Auvé) grew up on classical music, playing the harp, cello and piano from a young age. She then spent several years cutting her teeth in the city’s electronic scene, performing alongside fellow Montreal-based producer, CRi, and eventually releasing two EPs: 2017’s Superficial and 2019’s We Share Our Blood. She’s also toured with Jacques Greene and Yves Tumor, as well as teaming up with Helena Deland for their project Hildegard. After creating material over two months before completing her debut album off and on for about a year afterward, Ouri is finally ready to drop her first LP, Frame of a Fauna, released today on Born Twice and Lighter Than Air.

Travelling frequently during the album’s creation, Ouri would jump from London to Berlin and then to Brazil, becoming an aunt and losing her mother in the process. The result is a rich, future-facing, exquisitely produced juxtaposition of an orchestral sonic atmosphere with a flurry of jittery, industrial-heavy beats. Here’s our Q&A with the producer, singer, composer and former Cult MTL cover star.

Dave MacIntyre: How’s the pandemic been treating you?

Ouri: It was quite nice. I had a lot of time to finish a bunch of projects, really slow down, visualize things I wanted musically more, and take more time to work and think about music.

DM: You’re about to release your debut album, Frame of a Fauna. How are you feeling now that it’s days away from being out in the world?

Ouri: A little bit nervous. But I can’t wait to see how people are going to receive the album, and what’s going to resonate with them most. It’s super exciting. I launched my own imprint with this album release. I can’t wait for this album, but also for the next one that’s going to come — to build a sound, a direction and a label, and later invite people to join that.

DM: What’s the origin of the title?

Ouri: I was travelling a lot in 2019 and 2020. I was really observing how emotions physically leave an imprint on people, and how they express themselves against their will. I wouldn’t take notes, but I was seeing this a lot. I was passively observing a lot of things during these years. I just became obsessed with it, within my own family and with strangers. Sonically, it really was the driver of this album — not necessarily thematically, but more with the songs.

DM: This is your first proper LP. What led to you waiting until now to release it?

Ouri: Just working a little bit more on electronic music. I did a lot of classical music in the past, so I had some time to collaborate and get to know myself musically, and then do a bunch of projects so I could now do something with less stress. Just doing all the steps naturally—visuals, creating a world sonically. I did it a couple times and then I was like, “Okay, I’m ready to be full of intention during the making of this project.”

DM: This album sees you combining elements of forward-thinking industrial and electronic music with an orchestral feel. What is it about the contrast between each of these that keeps it coming through your art so much?

Ouri: I wanted to create a new fusion between different styles. I wanted to bring the orchestral part in as something a bit more sensitive and epic. I listen to a lot of (Claude) Debussy and (Maurice) Ravel, and I wanted to bring that into electronic music. I saw that some people were doing it, as well. It’s not just about having big, aggressive brass (sounds). “Orchestral” can also mean the thinner layers, and it’s sometimes a bit more intimate. I really wanted to try that, while also bringing the energy and playfulness of electronic music.

DM: You made this album in various parts of the world — London, Berlin and Brazil. What did each of these places contribute to the album as far as influencing its sound?

Ouri: Being away from my hometown of Montreal, and not having to perform anything socially, I was really isolating myself. It felt amazing. In London, I would go to a lot of record shops and listen (to albums). It was the only activity I’d allow for myself. I was cooking, making music and sometimes going out to listen to some records that I would never find in Montreal. London’s fucking amazing for that. In Berlin, I was going to some events — seeing some dance shows, music shows and discovering clubs. Recording a lot, but then seeing performances in-your-face like that during the album’s creation.

DM: What kind of an approach did you take with your production compared to previous projects you’ve done?

Ouri: First, I allowed myself to use samples. I wanted to create a bunch of samples myself, but I also wanted to use someone else’s sample. I (sampled) this Russian band from (the label) trip recordings. I also used a sample from Aphex Twin (“minipops 67 [120.2]” on “Chains”). I asked some of my friends to send me stuff, and then, of course, I was creating it myself. Also, making lists (imitates herself during the creative process): “For this song, I want to hear voice, cello and harp, and I can’t add anything else,” or, “For this song, I really want to create it around the bass, have a drum loop, and just play with some limitations — set some rules for myself.”

DM: Speaking of “Chains”, your music video for that track involves you sitting in front of a computer screen watching and controlling a virtual person that becomes sentient and starts dancing. To me, this feels like a bit of a metaphor for pandemic boredom. What does it actually represent to you?

Ouri: It represents my true self. (laughs) I feel like I’m mostly sitting in a computer trying to shape something that feels real, and sometimes being a bit scared when it becomes too real, or being angry when it crashes. I guess we’re all fascinated by AI. We’re intelligent, but can we create a form of intelligence that can sense things and control itself and its own existence?

DM: What’s the biggest way you think making Frame of a Fauna has helped you grow as an artist and as a creator?

Ouri: Setting these sonic boundaries really helped me dive more into the sound, and become more confident. Also, trying new things. When you discover new experimental techniques, sometimes you attempt to replicate them. But it’s actually about finding new ways to go directly to musical ideas. Also, launching my own label, and deciding to take the power of my own existence. No one could do it for me, because I made this album during the pandemic. ■

For more on Ouri, please visit her Bandcamp page.

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