I first saw Un Blonde in Montreal. I had been warned that I would love them, but I don’t think I was ready. Throughout the set, Jean kept re-positioning the microphone, changing its height and angle drastically and suddenly, so that he would have to place his head at odd angles in order that his voice would still come through the system. At the same time he’d throw a hand on a hip and stick it out, swing his guitar around, poke a leg out. His movement seemed completely intentional but also involuntary. Like a person very self aware, but also at the mercy of his limbs. I think all his movement reflects what I ultimately love the most about his music, but I was still in the WHOA THIS IS SO GOOD! feeling, not thinking about it all, yet.
Recently, someone described to me discovering an artist they immediately loved, and having to literally stand up from where they were sitting and move to another room to acknowledge the feeling. Watching Un Blonde play for the first time, I also felt like I urgently needed to do something, like take all my clothes off and go find a pool and jump in. What was this sound? How was he so beautiful? How could this music be at once so janky and bonked, uneven and irreverent and yet the deepest, most princely, pure r&b funk?
Afterwards, I met Jean and he proved to be pretty enigmatic: shy and charming, extremely stylish but untrendy; so confident while keeping his long lashes humbly lowered. I felt happy to be around him. I bought all the music I could and became a huge fan as I got to know the music better & better. I feel as though he can (and does) do anything; his musical choices are just so damn correct.
There’s a present-day, spacial quality that I love about all the Un Blonde releases. They feel unedited, brief, and honest. I love that his sound has really changed with each new batch of songs: we’re listening to his life.
Once I sent Jean an email about playing a show… He never replied, but it didn’t bother me because I felt like I was emailing a sweet monster on a cloud, and you can’t possibly deal with email all the way up there in the sky.
Robin Dann is a Toronto-based musician and front-woman of Bernice, who are playing Kazoo! Fest 2017 on Saturday April 8th at Heritage Hall.