Folk-swaying singer-songwriter Laurent Bourque released the second single ahead of his upcoming album, Blue Hour. “Thinking of You” is about reflecting on people you love who are no longer in your life, and dealing with the internal battle of whether to reach out. It’s ultimately about growth, breaking habits, and being comfortable with being vulnerable. Often times individuals get stuck in these mental (and sometimes physical) cycles, and Blue Hour represents the time of sundown at the end of a day, knowing that there’s another chance and a new day of opportunity tomorrow.
Laurent shared that the songs on Blue Hour are all linked in some way, whether musically or lyrically: “I want it to be a front to back listening experience and I’m excited to see what part people pick up on, and the ones that go unnoticed. The final phase of creating a work of art is handing it to the people and seeing what happens.”
“Thinking of You” is available for streaming at the bottom of the post.
Laurent Bourque answered a few questions regarding what the concept of Blue Hour means to him, and his advice to creators that may be feeling stuck in a creative block.
So the name ‘Blue Hour’ comes from the world’s natural hue at twilight. What about this time of day speaks to you, and why did you feel it was a fitting name for this album?
I think whether consciously or sub-consciously, everyone connects to this time of day. Depending on the time of year and your geographic location, it can signal the end of your work day or sometimes it’s your body’s innate alarm clock to start prepping your dinner for the day. it innately instills a calm within you. It signals a change in the day, work fades away, something new will begin soon. Every day is a new world, a new life and a new self. As humans we imagine that each day is connected, we carry feelings and fears over from one to the next. But ‘Blue hour’ is a reminder that there is in fact no correlation. Every day can be a new start.
Visually, the natural light at blue hour is very captivating to the eye too; everything is still lit but the sun is no longer blinding you. You can finally look straight into it if you’d like. It gives you a sense of power over nature and makes you feel connected to your surroundings.
The reason I chose it as the album’s title is because the opening track of the album shares the same name. I wrote the song ‘Blue hour’ first, at the beginning of my writing journey for this record. I wrote 150 songs in preparation for this record. There is a line in ‘Blue hour’ that goes: “maybe it’s out here in your blue hour.” I think I was looking for some kind of explanation or meaning with this line. An explanation for someone’s thoughts or feelings when they become difficult to pin point. As in maybe blue hour can be to blame for something that is hard to understand.
Blue hour can reveal a lot to you. It can show you that beauty is always there if you’d like it to be.
Do you have any specific memories you can share about a time when you came to really notice/appreciate the Blue Hour?
Definitely. There are so many. One that comes to mind is a few years ago when I was on tour in Prague.
It was my first time in that city, which is absolutely beautiful. A good friend of mine Phil Quinn (who was one of the co-writers on the song ‘Motherland’ from ‘Blue hour’) joined me on the trek to city. Prague during world war II was largely spared from the massive destruction that was occurring at the time, so many of its major landmarks were untouched. We woke up early to explore the city and eventually found ourselves on the famous Charles Bridge in midday. It was absolutely slammed with tourists. One could barely walk 3 feet without being impaled by a selfie stick. It was so uncomfortable that we decided to leave without making it all the way across. It was simply impossible to enjoy. We figured we’d try later in the day and just as the sun was setting we jaunted back to make the crossing. By then the light was reflecting perfectly off of Prague Castle across the Vltava river and the tourists had all scattered.
I recall the statues looking extra majestic, their grandeur heightened by the refracting light creating shadows in all their nooks and crannies. It was beautiful. If you don’t know what Charles Bridge looks like there are lots of great shots of it (and of Prague in general) in the Kanye West “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” video.
This is your first release in nearly 5 years, correct? What was the reason for the gap, and what incited you to create another album?
That’s right. It was a mixture of dissatisfaction with my art and other major life events. It was a perfect concoction of everything in my life going wrong at once, really. I released “Pieces of Your Past” in 2014 and toured on it for around 2 years. Near the end of the touring schedule for it I had a whole other album written and ready to go.
3 days into the pre-production sessions it hit me that I didn’t feel excited about the songs. I realized I didn’t feel anything at all about the songs. I felt numb. It was a horrible feeling. The art you make for yourself should make you feel something. You should feel excited to show it to the world. Parallel to this dissatisfaction I also went through a personal tragedy and that really made me hit the reset button on everything in my life. I was in love and planning a life with someone and it abruptly and violently ended. So, I hit reset.
The first thing I did was I decided to start learning the piano. I had been wanting to for some time and I needed something new to learn and explore. Writing became exciting again because I couldn’t predict where I was going to go on the piano having barely touched the instrument before. I was also introduced to the idea of co-writing by my publishers at this time, which ended up saving my life, creatively speaking. It opened my eyes to what writing could be like. Not every session is successful of course, but you do learn something new every time.
It took me 2 years of writing, rebuilding my life in Toronto and 150+ songs later I was finally satisfied. I booked a month of studio time with producer Dan Ledwell in Halifax and we got to work. I feel extremely happy about every little bit of this record.
Who are some of the co-writers/collaborators on this album, and how did you come to connect with them?
Some are old friends, like Jamie Kronick with whom I’ve been playing music since the age of 12. We were in our first band together in Ottawa and he’s been my drummer ever since. He and I collaborated closely on the writing of the song ‘Blue Hour’ actually. Other writers I was introduced to by my publishers CCS Rights Management.
The first co-writing session I ever did was with Dave Monks of the band Tokyo Police Club. I was introduced to Dave at a party in LA in early 2017. After hanging out for a while, enjoying the dry sunny Californian heat, we began to connect over our respective songwriting processes. Learning about the what/how/when/where of it all is always fascinating. The party dwindled so we decided to hop in a cab to Bedrock LA (a popular rehearsal studio) to write something together.
I must say that session pretty much saved me. We wrote “Wait & See” together. He is so fearless in his songwriting, he just attacks the chords and the moment head on like a knight in a joust. I had never seen anything like it, really. The result is pop piano ballad about love and mental health. About trying to walk the tightrope between oneself and another in a relationship when so many factors come into play through the years. Ultimately, it’s a hopeful song though and is definitely one of my favourites on the record.
What is some advice you have for artists/creators that may be feeling a creative block?
Despite feeling an overall need to make art doesn’t make it easy. It is indeed a difficult thing no matter what. Often, you have to force yourself to create. I wrote almost every day for 2 years in order to get the 150 songs I had going into the making of ‘Blue hour.’ It wasn’t a perfect process of course. Even though I wanted to write every day, it’s practically impossible to do so. Life gets in the way.
The point is to try. And to do the best that you can without guilt or remorse is essential, too. I personally can’t write if I feel guilty about having not written in a while. At the end of the day, just make something. Write for the trash can as Johnny Mercer said. Start with a single snowflake and eventually you can make a snowman.
What was the inspiration behind the new single “Thinking of You”?
I wrote ‘Thinking of you’ on a whim one day, sitting around in my apartment in Toronto. It was pretty quick, I was trying to capture a feeling and groove that I had rushing through my body at the time. The lyrics are about daydreaming about someone you love, or loved. About a lover or a friend who was in your life at some point and who now for some reason isn’t.
Everyone has people who are no longer in their lives who meant something to them, and who are now seemingly unreachable. One might think of them often and want to reach out but resist the temptation due to an overarching fear. Mostly, we are afraid of seeming vulnerable. We are scared of seeming ridiculous somehow. When really… this would likely not be the case.
And even if it was the case, it would be better than the stagnation that would otherwise be there. ‘Thinking of you’ is a song about reaching past your comfort zone. It’s always good. It means growth.
Radiotrails is all about music discovery and highlighting lesser-known artists. Who are some artists that you think our readers should check out?
There are so many. But if you haven’t listened to BAJA yet, you are truly missing out. She only has a few songs up on Spotify and I’m not even certain she’s ever played live before. She is a friend of a friend who lives in LA that I’ve never personally met. But my friend in question showed me her music and I have had it on repeat ever since. She writes some of the best songs I’ve heard in a while.