Winnipeg’s winter heats up with diverse acts at Festival du Voyageur

Festival still francoFUN after 50 years

The Manitoban chatted up various performers during the 50th Festival du Voyageur (FDV). Below is an abridged version of the conversations.


FDV featured Sault Ste. Marie singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson.  Photo credit: Asha Nelson

Kalle Mattson is a singer-songwriter from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Manitoban: Did the reputation of the festival bring you here?

Kalle Mattson: I wasn’t really that aware of [FDV] before. I mean, I heard the name, but then when I sort of mentioned it to everyone, everyone was like “Oh, that’s like the biggest party in Winnipeg.”

A lot of people were saying how many people from Winnipeg that live elsewhere come back for the festival to hang out and see everyone. So, yeah, I mean it was a great time and I’m glad to be a part of it this year.

M: What do you think makes the festival unique compared to other similar events?

KM: Ottawa has a similar festival called Winterlude and we were walking through and we said, “Boy, this is a way better Winterlude.”

We spent very little time here today so it was a lot of setting up and playing. I mean the music creation looks really good, not just the fact that I’m playing it. It seems like super unique that there’s this French-Canadian community, I didn’t really realize there was one in Winnipeg, I hadn’t really thought of it before and that they celebrate their heritage in the middle of winter in freezing cold Winnipeg.



Living Hour is a Winnipeg-based psychedelic dreampop band comprised of Sam Sarty (lead vocals, trombone, keyboard), Gil Carroll (guitar), Adam Soloway (guitar, vocals), Alex Chochinov (drums, trumpet, organelle) and Brett Ticzon (bass, vocals).

M: Is this your first time playing for FDV?

Sam Sarty: No, Living Hour played Festival I think two years ago. This is our second time playing Festival.

M: How has your experience been so far?

SS: It’s interesting cause you’re outside, so it’s like a bit noisy. People want to party too and our music is pretty sensitive, but that’s OK. You can still party and maybe listen to the music on some level.

M: Could you tell me about your latest album?

SS: Yeah, our second album is called Softer Faces and it’s technically out March 1 and we’ve been working on it for the past three years on and off.


Stef Johnson performs at FDV. Photo credit: Quincy Houdayer


Mise En Scene is a Winnipeg-based indie band comprised of Stefanie Johnson (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jodi Dunlop (drums), Corey D. Hykawy (bass) and Dave Gagnon (lead guitar).

M: How did you get involved with the Festival?

Stefanie Johnson: Well it’s the 50th anniversary and it’s one of Canada’s most amazing and best winter festivals. So, it’s a festival we’re always going to want to go to, whether we want to go to as musicians or we want to go to as people just enjoying the festival. It’s such a great festival, it’s so much fun to play at.

M: How would you say your experience was with Festival?

SJ: It was great! It was awesome. We played a nice big warm tent, there was Caribou [cocktails] going everywhere, everyone was so happy, so excited to be there, everyone in the audience is always so great because they’re just so happy, they love the festival so much, so it was really wonderful.

Local folk-rock group Odder than the Otters. Photo credit: Quincy Houdayer

Odder than the Otters is a Winnipeg folk-rock band comprised of Cody Goertzen (guitar, vocals), Adam Hill (drums), Joe Johnson (lead guitar) and Mitch Kruse (bass).

M: How long have you been playing for the festival and how did your band get involved in this?

Cody Goertzen: This is our first time playing at Festival du Voyageur and we lucked out. Our buddies Riley [Saunders] and Kevin [Harrison] from the Village Idiots, they organized the stage tonight at the MTS stage and they asked us to come and perform.

M: What do you think makes the festival unique?

Adam Hill: It’s the only place you can really have this good a time out in the cold and have so many lovely people come out and share some experiences together.

M: How would you describe your experience with the festival?

CG: It’s been a very energetic experience. Everybody is on their toes and excited to be here.

AH: Everything’s been next to perfect, the sound onstage and I think the sound out on the floor, we’ve been told, is just nothing but perfect.

M: Could you tell me about your music?

CG: We are an upbeat bluesy folk-rock four-piece. We got a lot of beach vibes, a lot of southern rock vibes. We’ve got an EP out, titled The Port of Lopez and upcoming we’re getting into the studio next month to record a couple singles. So, this year we’re planning on releasing two singles and a music a video to go along with that.


Montgolfière is a Winnipeg funk/rock/folk/jazz-fusion band comprised of Sam Fournier (bass, vocals), who is the brother of the Manitoban’s arts editor, Félixe Sturk Lussier (drums), Callum Goulet-Kilgour (keyboard) and Rydan Sheldon (guitar).

The band is this year’s winner of Chicane électrique, a Franco-Manitoban youth band contest.

Manitoban: What do you like most about going to Festival and then what do you like most about performing Festival?

Sam Fournier: I think they’re two very different things. The thing I like most about going to Festival is just like hanging out with friends and stuff and seeing all the cool traditional things that we celebrate every year and la tire (maple taffy). And, about performing […] like you always see people performing on the stage, so it’s cool when you’re the one who’s looking at the crowd, and you kind of know everyone’s looking at you.

It’s a new perspective, and it’s cool.

Callum Goulet-Kilgour: It’s usually a really good crowd, people you know so, really friendly, and yeah, it’s a good time.

Rydan Sheldon: I think my favourite part about being at Festival is the different bands you discover along the way for sure, and the type of energy with all the French people, it’s really great.

Félixe Sturk Lussier: I think the coolest thing about Festival going is probably being able to celebrate your culture, I guess. It’s not something I thought about when I was younger, but now that I’m older and I have a lot of Anglophone friends it’s nice to bring them around and show them French stuff.

Playing is super fun, cause it’s such a good atmosphere.


Anomalie jazzed up the festival. Photo credit: Asha Nelson

Anomalie is a classically-trained Montreal-based keyboard player. His music falls into a growing genre that is sometimes described as electro-jazz fusion.

M: What’s your experience been like so far at FDV?

Anomalie: My first impression was that I was surprised to see that it was colder than Montreal, cause I’m used to Igloofest.

I really like the sculptures, the vibe, everyone seems to be really into it, the hé ho thing is really really cool as well.

M: Do you have a label for what you do?

A: I guess there’s this scene that’s forming of either instrumentalists or singers that are really getting into the production game in general.

The sort of hybrid thing that’s happening is pretty worldwide. I mean, there’s low-fi hip hop, I don’t know, electro-jazz or something, but, I mean, I’m pretty confident about the route that I’m building but I’m definitely not the only one that’s sort of exploring this direction. I don’t know if there’s a clear label for it, there’s definitely neo-soul that’s been around for a while, but all the electronic textures and producing that’s got into it, that’s a bit more recent.


Alain-François est un violoniste québécois qui compose de la musique Néo-trad, une combinaison entre la musique traditionnelle québécoise et la musique rock contemporaine.

M: Comment trouves-tu que le festival a changé depuis la dernière fois que t’es ici?

Alain-François: Je m’aperçois que le festival a grandi, a grossi, je trouve ça vivant, mais très vivant. Ça me fait plaisir de voir que la communauté francophone ici existe, est encore très vivant de voir ça. Les sculptures de neige, les lumières, c’est féerique.

M: Puis la communauté francophone continue à vivre aussi […] Même si on accueil beaucoup de personnes qui sont anglophones, on garde ça.

A-F: Je pense que c’est important parce que moi, j’ai un amour profond pour la langue française. Je travaille avec parce-que je compose mes propres chansons, je compose en français aussi   je trouve que c’est important les festivals comme ça parce que ça promouvoir aussi le côté [de] la langue française, et ça rapproche tout le monde aussi.

M: Que trouves-tu d’unique à propos du festival?

A-F: Ce qui me frappe le plus c’est le tout : c’est tout que ça l’englobe, langue, diversité musicale, les rencontres entre les francophones, les rencontres, peut-être, que vous voyez moins ça, vous-autre, mais les rencontres entre les musiciens.

On élargi nos connaissances musicales.

Olivier Macharia (left) and Brendan Grey of Super Duty Tough Work.  Photo credit: Asha Nelson

Super Duty Tough Work is a Winnipeg-based funk/hip-hop/jazz group fronted by Brendan Grey.

M: What do you guys think is unique about performing at Festival?

Olivier Macharia (tenor sax): A lot of people that are here we don’t normally play for.

A lot of people we’re seeing their first reaction to us, which is cool.

Brendan Grey: The French aspect, I mean, we didn’t really do too much in French this time, but in the past we have done French music. This is the place to do that.

M: What was your first performance like at Festival?

BG: The first Festival show was dope, man, it was very dope. We had been playing together a lot before that show so we were very comfortable and warm and yeah, it was, the crowd was very excited and it just all went together well, so the first Festival show was definitely one for the books of all the Super Duty shows, I think.