Men I Trust and the Need to Be Independent

If there’s a band that embodies the DIY spirit, Montreal trio Men I Trust could certainly claim it.  For example, until this year, the group would even ship their merch to fans while traveling between tour stops.

“That was chaos, total chaos,” remarks keyboardist Dragos Chiriac with a laugh (the band’s two other members being vocalist/guitarist Emma Proulx and bassist/guitarist Jessy Caron).  “We had vinyl and T-shirts and stuff like that with us in the van because we’d have merch tables after the show, but we’d also prepare postage packaging and go to local post offices to have everyone’s shipment shipped.”

Along with their explicit warning to labels and PR folk not to bother inundating them with offers, Men I Trust’s DIY approach allows them to control what they want to do and when they want to do it.  If that means a few delays in finishing up their anticipated third album, Oncle Jazz, so be it!

The group have been patient with the follow-up to their 2015 sophomore album Headroom.  Scheduled for release last month, the group decided to push back the album’s release date, posting on their social media pages a few weeks ago that “We want it to be the best it can be. Love takes time.”

According to Chiriac, the group’s Oncle Jazz will be a lengthy affair.  The album will include most of the band’s singles released since their last album, wonderful expressions of indie-pop bliss like “Tailwhip” and “Show Me How,” as well as brand-new material that mixes their recent style and their more electronic-based origins.

It was after releasing their first two albums in back-to-back years that Men I Trust decided it might be best to build up an audience before putting out another record.  Not to mention that dumping albums onto the world doesn’t play well in the age of infinite consumption and attention deficit. “When you release an album after two weeks it’s not even news anymore and people kind of forget it,” admits Chiriac, though the artist professes that the group “still loves albums a lot.”

For Chiriac, there’s also an artistically cathartic quality to releasing singles that isn’t as easy to achieve with the long gestation period an album goes through.  “It’s fun releasing singles,” the artist explains, “because you just write a song and you release it three weeks after, so it’s still fresh to your ears; you’re still in that mood when it comes out.”

“For a starting artist especially, it’s a very good idea to start with singles,” Chiriac believes, “because it’s easier to get discouraged.  You put so much effort into an album, you almost go crazy over it, because you’ll work your ass off [laughs].”

“It can even be mentally distressing,” Chiriac further adds, “and then when it’s out if you feel it’s not [getting] the attention it should have, and that people don’t care that much, it’s probably because you just need more time to build an audience.”


Men I Trust certainly speak from their own experience.  The trio spent a great deal of 2018 playing shows across North America to ever-enlarging audiences.  That growing fanbase can even claim to include luminaries like Tyler, The Creator, who personally reached out to the group to play at his Camp Flog Gnaw festival last fall.  The group has also played local mainstay Osheaga and will be visiting the California desert for Coachella next month.

Chiriac admits that playing more and more shows has influenced Men I Trust’s recent singles like “Seven” and “Say Can You Hear,” despite noting that the group doesn’t write much while on tour.  “They’re a bit more upbeat than what we usually do,” Chiriac says about the tracks. “We wanted to have songs that were really fun to perform as well, and I’d say generally speaking when you’re doing your show people appreciate uplifting songs and uplifting music, so I think that’s reflected on the album.”

While the group looks to expand their horizons even further by planning shows in much of Asia for the near future, there really is no place like home, and the members of Men I Trust are keen to come back to Montreal to play amongst friends and family.  “Playing Montreal is always like a big party, it’s probably gonna be really fun,” Chiriac says, also adding to expect a few guest performers to share the stage with the band.

That modest summation by Chiriac is keeping in line with Men I Trust’s humble ambitions.  The group have achieved their goal of being able to live off their work and to do it independently without compromise.  “Just being autonomous is the best thing ever,” Chiriac remarks. “You don’t want to depend too much on people. Being autonomous, you’re free to decide whatever you want to do and just do it, no pressure.”

“We’re very happy with what we have already.  If it were to be like that for the rest of my life, I’d be happy.”

Men I Trust perform with opener Michael Seyer at Théâtre Corona (2490 Notre-Dame Ouest) on Saturday, March 16, 8:00 p.m., $23/$28

Alex Viger-Collins is the host of Ashes to Ashes, your weekly dose of modern pop, every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.