Fire & Smoke – Five Questions With

Fire & Smoke

Photo Credit: Adam Kelly

Fire & Smoke share “How It Is” from their upcoming bilingual EP, FR-EN

Winnipeg/Montréal-based folk-roots duo Fire & Smoke continue to build momentum off their 2022 release “La route” with new single “How It Is,” the first track off of their forthcoming FR-EN bilingual EP (Spring-Summer 2023).

Drawing from greats in the style including Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, the track features a raw, luminous, live-off-the-floor sound, delivering a frankly told story of hope in the face of adversity. Nostalgic, intimate, stubbornly joyful — with “How It Is,” Fire & Smoke insist that what goes down must certainly come back up.

“With “How It Is” came the reassurance that we’d made the right choice in getting back together to make new music. Working through a draft Claire had brought in that she couldn’t finish, we found that same complimentary fit that cemented the beginning of our friendship. Dan helped flesh out the composition, we played it through on a few different instruments to find the right fit, and the rest of the lyrics poured out within a couple of hours. Songwriting is rarely as glamorous as people think, but this is one of those times when we found the key elements, and the rest fell into our laps. Musically, we’re often the answer to each others’ questions.”

Drawn together by the flickering light of a Winnipeg Folk Fest campground jam, Claire Morrison and Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner discovered the potential for what is now bilingual folks- roots partnership Fire & Smoke. With her dark, rich voice, his feel-them-in-your-bones harmonies, and an ever-evolving assortment of instruments, the pair offer up their take on what makes a young girl cry, a grown man sigh, and what’s really going on behind the eyes of the lone old-timer at the dive bar. Fire & Smoke’s haunting style and intimate storytelling will leave you with an ache in your soul, a song in your heart, and a knowing twinkle in your eye.

Listen to “How It Is” below and learn more about Fire & Smoke via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

We are a bilingual folk-roots duo based in Winnipeg and Montréal with Claire Morrison on vocals, guitar, and flute and Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo. We were active between 2010 and 2013 and re-launched the group with a sold-out show in 2021 as part of Coup de coeur francophone in Winnipeg, followed by a stand-alone single “La route” in March 2022.

We are recipients of the CBC/Radio-Canada Phonogramme Prize, grand prize winners of the Chant’Ouest francophone music competition, and CBC Canada Live featured artists. Our song Prends la maison charted at #5 on Espace Musique’s national Country-Folk chart off our debut EP Maiden Voyage (2011).

With “How It Is,” we’re so excited to begin rolling out material off our forthcoming bilingual EP (Spring/Summer 2023), our first collection of songs since putting the band back together.

Tell us a bit about your most recent release.

We’re drawing from some of our favourite artists and greats in the style, including Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and wanted to feature a raw, luminous, live-off-the-floor sound in the studio with engineer Don Benedictson (The Bros Landreth, Sierra Noble). Nostalgic, intimate, stubbornly joyful — with How It Is, we explore how it feels to have things finally looking up when you least expect them to.

Where do you tend to pull inspiration from when writing?

For Claire, it’s mostly about lived experience, as in the case of “How It Is,” which is about coming out the other side of a particularly long, dark time. Dan leans more into the trad world, looking at folkloric songs, and old-time music, finding interesting ways to make the old into something new. He also draws a lot of inspiration from local historical narratives and conveying these stories through song.

Do you have any upcoming shows you’d like to tell us about?

February 18, we’ll be at Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, opening for Quebecois indie-rock star Louis-Jean Cormier (Karkwa) — a real pleasure for us to be back at this festival that has been such a fixture and key meeting place for our Franco-Manitoban community and to be opening for someone we listened to and looked up to as teenagers.

What’s your goal for 2023?

To cover as much ground as possible – after the last few years, we’re extra eager to hit the road and play as much as we can. We’re currently building a tour schedule for Western Canada at the beginning of the summer and heading out East around the beginning of August. Follow us on socials to stay up to date.

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