M for Montreal 2023 Put a Musical Metropolis on Display: Recap + Photos

It may not seem so from the outside, but the music industry is a fairly small world. Rarely is there more than one degree of separation between an “I know them from this” or an “Oh, we emailed about that.” At the same time — and this is not the same thing — it can be pretty insular.

See, it’s one thing to know bands coming up in your own city, but only the most dedicated (read: obsessive) could name the local talent popping up in Melbourne or Madrid or Montreal. Heck, as a New Yorker, I couldn’t tell you what’s going on down in Richmond, Virginia, and that’s 100 miles closer than the Quebec metropolis I visited last week for M for Montreal.

This simply illustrates that, as tight as this world can be, events like M remain uniquely important. South by Southwest does its part introducing fresh talent from around the world to music industry professionals, but that’s a conference that takes over a city. M for Montreal instead takes an immersive approach, inviting delegates to explore the culture of the vibrant art hub while being introduced to a vast array of artists from across Canada.

More than just a marathon festival, however, the conference element of M for Montreal is equally valuable. Every element of this vital industry we call music struggles with constant, unpredictable challenges. Yet there are thousands of talented, hardworking folks giving their all to keep music scenes alive, to get their art heard, and to continuously give fans something to be excited about (and, yes, to support the business of it all). Any event that brings these people together to learn from each other and build new bridges deserves its flowers — even if it’s held in the dead of fall above 45-degrees North.

While I’ll keep my new worldwide contacts to myself, there were plenty of musicians who played the various showcases whose talents should be shared far beyond the border. The nightly Official Selection shows were at venues conveniently situated across the street from each other, allowing you to, for example, bop in and out of the club vibe of Ausgang Plaza and the worn opulence of Théâtre Plaza throughout the night. Wednesday saw those spots showcasing a range of talent, from the blind, Oji-Cree, self-produced emo-trap rapper Mattmac to the Saskatchewan indie folk artist Ellen Froese.

Super Plage with Virginie B, photo by Ben Kaye

This sort of delightful variety gave a real flavor of Canada’s vast scene. It also opened the door to  the Montreal community’s collaborative nature, as when electropop artist Super Plage was joined by Virginie B for a Club Soda set on Thursday. Super Plage, aka Jules Henry, is known for his team-ups with French-singing female artists on nu-disco bangers, so seeing him play with Virginie (who would later take the stage at Consequence’s own showcase) was a treat. The dance vibes were so hot that it seemed Henry stripped back a new layer of clothes between each song.