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Nicolet

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Biography

Nicolet is the musical project of Etienne Hamel, an artist who finds inspiration in the movement and transitions that occur in real life, while also exploring the boundaries of the material world. For many years, he divided his time between Montreal and Sutton, slowly crafting the tropical synth-pop sounds of an EP titled Le Quatrième (2014), followed by Hochelaga (2017), a full-length debut that draws from art pop, new wave and the canon of pop songs. The live show in support of Hochelaga was presented at such noteworthy events as the Francos de Montréal, POP Montreal, Coup de cœur francophone, and Le Festif! in Baie-Saint-Paul. For the concert, Hamel wanted to combine introspective contemplation and exuberant energy in a public setting, to offer an experience people would come out of with something bigger than themselves. On stage, Nicolet strives to create an atmosphere of intimate contemplation within a public setting, to offer an experience people will emerge from with something bigger than themselves. And things are about to get bigger and better indeed: in 2021, Nicolet will drop a new album, two thirds of which he composed a few weeks after the release of Hochelaga. Hamel’s sophomore effort was mostly created around Sutton shortly before he decided to settle in the town permanently.

Nicolet is the dreamy, contemplative music project of Etienne Hamel. For many years, he divided his time between Montreal and Sutton, experimenting ideas within various obscure outfits (including cult band Les Nitrates de Madame Mimieux). Slowly but surely, he gave birth to Nicolet, the current chapter of his musical journey.

In 2014, Hamel acquired a Yamaha DX7, the iconic synthesizer of the 80s. The purchase inspired him to hole up in the city and work on Le Quatrième, an EP that ignited the musical venture that is now known as Nicolet. A synth-pop opus with tropical accents, Le Quatrième charts Hamel’s unique exploration of the boundaries of reality. Recounting a night of rich and vivid dreams, the EP is about accessing an otherworldly place and journeying back to the real world.

Shortly after this debut, Hamel began composing Hochelaga, which was released in 2017 under Chivi Chivi. To support his musical ambitions, Hamel created this first full-length album with the help of drummer Etienne Côté (Canailles, Bon Enfant) and coproducer Emmanuel Ethier (Chocolat, Jimmy Hunt). Together, they open a mystical can of worms that draws from new wave, prog, art pop, afrobeat and the canon of pop songs, evoking comparisons with Eno, Talking Heads, and Roxy Music. Backed by a rotating lineup of accomplished musicians, Hamel toured Quebec in support of Hochelaga, including appearances at the Francos de Montréal, POP Montreal, Coup de cœur francophone, and Le Festif! in Baie-Saint-Paul. Nicolet also gave showcase performances at Rideau, ROSEQ, and Francouvertes, in addition to opening for Émile Bilodeau, Hubert Lenoir, Les Louanges, Chocolat, and We Are Wolves. On stage, Nicolet strives to create an atmosphere of intimate contemplation within a public setting, to offer an experience people will emerge from with something bigger than themselves.

And things are about to get bigger and better indeed: in 2021, Nicolet will drop a new album, two thirds of which he composed a few weeks after the release of Hochelaga. Hamel’s sophomore effort was mostly created around Sutton shortly before he decided to settle in the town permanently. It is an album of geographic transition, of moving reference points (going / being), marked by disillusionment with the uncertainty of our future and a desire for dissolution into nature. It’s about opening one’s arms and accepting to be swallowed by something larger than one’s self. A journey through the night without a clear direction, without knowing whether or not it’s all a dream.

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