Avec Moi (Joshua Dugue) is a Chicago based musician with a lilting and milk smooth voice whose lyrics taunt and invite his listeners to remember that love is a verb. Sonic Eclectic got him to sit for a moment away from his daily ritual of work and husband-hood to talk to us about his new album–its lack of pretension and its need to interact with present loves– and where it came from.
Sonic Eclectic: Who are your influences?
Avec Moi: My artistic influences are kind of all over the place. I feel like I owe a lot to Jeff Buckley; maybe he taught me some things about singing. Generally I pull lyrical influences from old blues cats like Mississippi John Hurt and Howlin Wolf. This time I just tried to write straight ahead. So it was more of a pop approach.
SE: How would you describe the album?
AM: I would say it’s an acoustic Pop album.
SE: What’s behind the title?
AM: Well it’s self-titled. I go by Avec Moi and I try to write by that philosophy. What I mean is, I don’t want to get so clever that people don’t really get what I’m saying. But more than just getting what I’m saying, I want people to really feel it, y’know? I don’t believe in writing things that others haven’t felt. In some way I guess I feel like we’ve all written these songs. Even in performance, it’s an “us thing”; we have to feel each other in order for magic to happen. So the album title is indicative of my artistic philosophy and the general story of the album.
SE: Did you design the album as a cohesive whole? Was your goal to compile songs that can stand alone and that are loosely linked?
AM: Well, overall the album tells a story. From beginning to end it tells the story of moments you wished would never end to the painful loss of those moments and the need for recovery. Again, the title is indicative to the core of those feelings we feel in a romance. We want someone with us, someone to be there.
SE: Often in the process of designing a text the artist, as he moves from idea to idea/ feeling to feeling, identifies the crux of the movement for the audience. Do you? Is there a turn in the album?
AM: I think the album has two pivotal ideas. “Crying Shame” is told from an “I- told-you-so” perspective and provides a harsh recalling of what went wrong. I think most of us have gone into something with our eyes closed and put everything into it without thinking of the risk and preparing for it. That’s what “Crying Shame” is about. “Lonely World” is told from yet another perspective, and this is my favorite. It says that while everything hurts like you’ve gone twelve rounds with the reigning heavyweight champ, you’ll be alright. I don’t believe in discrediting pain and mourning, but I also don’t believe in having a foolishly bleak perspective. Grief is a right and part of the process but not the end of it; I guess I wanted to end the album on that note and maybe that is the crux idea.
SE:What, if anything, does it signify?
AM: I guess it talks to those raw parts, those emotions that would rather fester and cause parts of your heart to die. It’s that fatherly reminder that the world will keep going; don’t sit there thinking you’ve hit the end and don’t disregard it either…..just hold on.
SE: How do the songs translate to the stage (and where can folks find you)?
AM: The songs were written on the acoustic guitar to be performed in that most simple ensemble. I feel like these songs can be performed in a variety of ways and still retain the core aesthetic and meaning. With the upcoming digital release I’ll be performing acoustic shows around Chicago.
SE: Who is this album for? Who is the audience? Is it inspired by a person/ experience?
AM: This album is for everyone. I tried to put together a group of songs and arrangements that are beautiful and meaningful without being crowded and cacophonic. While I hope that everyone can find something in my music, I’m not so naïve to expect that. I imagine that anyone who enjoys acoustic, singer/songwriter music or pop music will enjoy this. Most of these songs came out when a huge group of my friends were dealing with some heavy issues in their relationships so I wrote what I heard as an homage of sorts.
SE: What’s next for you?
AM: More music, always. We’ll see how people feel this project but I’m ready to get a full length album out and to build a solid band. I have a lot of ideas I want to try out and I want a few writing partners. I’d like more people with me.
SE: What is your sound?
AM: acoustic dream pop? No seriously, I would say it’s dreamy, atmospheric, folk with pop sensibilities. I tried to have as much fun as I could with musical exploration. So, a couple tunes will just swing way out of those cross hairs. Still, it’s dreamy folk pop… or nostalgic alt folk.
Avec Moi can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and anywhere good music is sold.