Martin Saint of Citylake on Playing Solo Versus with a Band and Not Missing a Beat

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Montreal band Citylake has officially reformed, albeit with one member change, and is returning to writing and recording their interesting blend of indie folk-rock, dark post-punk and 80s new wave with some psychedelia thrown in. Think Donnie Darko soundtrack. Listen to the pre-production recording of Ugly City for a taste:

Frontman Martin Saint is active in Citylake, a trio formerly known as Satori, and also as a solo performer. For over a year he has been a resident performer at l’Escalier (his next gig is February 25th). Following the very recent reformation of the band, I was able to pick Martin’s brain a little about performing and the solo versus band dynamics on stage, and here’s what he had to say:

Stephanie Beatson: What do you like most about performing?

Martin Saint: The adrenaline rush that comes with it. Every crowd, every venue, every performance is different. If it weren’t I’d get bored with this very fast.  There’s always a certain element of risk when you expose your soul to the public but I choose to embrace that rather than fear it.

I like that no matter how many times I’ve played such and such song I’m never quite sure how it’s going to come out, what the people’s reaction will be. It’s a dialogue; I give all I have, leave it all out there and feed off the energy I get from the audience, and from other band members if it’s a band gig.

ms2Do you prefer performing as a solo act or with a band?

There’s nothing like fronting a band, for me. Playing original songs and the odd cover alongside a solid rhythm section is hard to describe in words. Once you have the right chemistry with the right partners it becomes a purely instinctive thing. Since I’m doing it again now for the first time in a while I realize how much I missed it.

Still, I find playing solo very formative, a great way to stay in shape. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s something that no matter what I would never want to give up entirely.

What was the most memorable thing that’s happened during a show?

A long time ago I was playing guitar with my teenage band and some very, very drunk -and high on God knows what drugs- lady started this lascivious dance in front of me, with her jeans zipper all the way down. I kept doing my thing, not paying too much attention until I felt something pulling at my left leg.  I thought it was one of my stupid male friends making fun of me but as it got more insistent I looked down and saw it was that lady.  Believe it or not she then bit my leg!!  I had to shake her off the best I could and meanwhile still carry the song.

I have witnesses to this story, by the way.  The doorman was a friend of mine. I was hoping he’d help me out but he was too busy roaring with laughter along with everyone else…..I need new friends!  The important thing is that apparently I didn’t miss a beat!

* Photos by Ally May Chadwick

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