Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 13/9/2017 (1059 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Francophone singer-songwriter Justin Lacroix has been making music locally for more than a decade, but this past year especially, his name has been popping up at almost every turn.
He played Canada Day and the Canada Games Festival at The Forks, he locked in a spot at Dauphin’s Countryfest, performed at Pride Winnipeg, was paired up with an English songwriter as part of the Franco Roots event and even knocked out a few songs with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in May at the Manitoba, mon amour concert, which celebrated Franco-Manitoban music and culture.
Adding to that list, Lacroix will be bringing his roots/blues style to the next Free Press Sunday Brunch Collective on Oct. 15 at Kitchen Sync.
Lacroix, 38, has been honing his musical chops since he was a kid, starting with the violin when he was only four and moving on to the guitar at age 12.
"The ability preceded the interest, I would say," he says with a laugh, describing his early experiences as fruitful, but not exactly inspiring.
It wasn’t until Lacroix was 22 that he wrote his first song, the catalyst to which was the death of one of his older brothers. Keeping a diary was an idea that had long fascinated Lacroix as a teen, though it never really stuck when he tried to maintain it consistently, but going through the deeply emotional experience of losing a sibling was the nudge he needed to take his writing more seriously.
"That was the first event that changed my approach and pushed me to express myself," Lacroix says. "My brother’s passing was what made me question what I was doing with my life and I just had something that needed to get out, so it turned into wanting to share the experience with people, and I saw that it did people good to hear me sing.
"And I still question once in a while if this is the right thing, if this is what I should be doing — sometimes it feels like you’re hitting dead ends — but it blows everything away. I can’t imagine doing anything else that would feel as rewarding or meaningful."
Since that time, Lacroix has released four full-length records and four EPs, the most recent being 2016’s three-track EP, Ticket to Tokyo, and racked up a handful of songwriting awards along the way. He says there are more fresh tracks are on the horizon, as well.
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"There will be another release at the beginning of November, actually probably two of them, some franco stuff and some anglo stuff," he says. "I’m also working on a primarily English album, full-length... There’s definitely new music on the way."
Lacroix is a fully bilingual speaker and has been for the vast majority of his life, but occasionally still gets pangs of doubt about how thorough his grasp of the French language is having not grown up immersed within it.
"If you’re not completely immersed in just one then you don’t have the same kind of mastery unless you really study," he says. "It was only later on that I discovered I had this thing for languages and more so the French language and wanting to learn to use it well. Maybe it was my first experiences in Quebec and I had gone to France for the first time in 2004 to go see what the motherland was all about...
"Part of my thing is just that I do like to choose my words, and interacting with those other French communities, it kind of made me feel like I didn’t have the same mastery, but now I guess it’s OK. I still feel that way at times but I’m getting better at recognizing my strengths as well," he says.
"For what it’s worth, when I go to Quebec, people tell me I speak a good French," he adds with a laugh.
Erin Lebar Multimedia producer
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.
Sunday Brunch Collective continues in the fall with a four-course gourmet brunch menu prepared with fresh local ingredients by Chef Ben Kramer (of Table for 1200 fame). As the courses roll out, you’ll be treated to an opening set by Winnipeg Folk Festival Young Performer Mika-Dawn. During dessert, you’ll get a headlining set from Justin Lacroix.
The next Sunday Brunch Collective takes place on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Kitchen Sync (370 Donald St). Tickets are $49, available at winnipegfreepress.com/sbc.
Wait, there’s more:
Mark your calendar for the rest of the series, too, which also feature a four-course brunch and music.
Sunday, Nov. 19: Don Amero (with opening set by Katie MacDonald)
Sunday, Dec. 17: Nation of Two (with opening set by Nic Dyson)