V Premiere: Ouri's "Felicity" ft. Antony Carle
The DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist discusses her transcendent new single.
The DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist discusses her transcendent new single.
Text: Bailey Bujnosek
Ourielle Auvé cannot be defined. The DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, known professionally as Ouri, is an inescapable fixture of Montreal’s underground rave scene. She’s also one half of cult EDM duo Hildegard, where she creates ethereal folk-meets-electronic soundscapes with bandmate Helena Deland. Her music harbors a sense of intimacy within a crowd—vocals pour over bumping beats the way whispers float across a dance floor. But while Ouri has made a name for herself in the world of electronic music, she was initially on quite a different trajectory.
From the tender age of five, Ouri received classical music training in her native France, cycling through the piano, harp, and cello. When the by-the-book nature of a conservatory became more confining than nourishing, she moved to her current home of Montreal. It was there that she found the creative freedom she’d been yearning for. Whether it was touring with Yves Tumor and Jacques Greene, headlining Boiler Room’s Montreal showcase, or releasing two EPs, Ouri dove head-on into the life of a multi-hyphenate, ready to shrug off standards and embrace the unconventional.
Her newest single, “Felicity,” blends her fearless instrumentation with the airy vocals of Antony Carle for a song that’s equal parts comforting and transcendent. In comparison to the rest of Ouri’s oeuvre, the track is surprisingly soft—though perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. The longtime listener understands that whatever definition you have of Ouri today, you should be prepared to revise it tomorrow.
Below, V talk with Ouri about the inspiration behind “Felicity,” her early-morning jam sessions with Antony Carle, and what’s next for the rising talent.
V Magazine: What was it like for you to grow up in France? Did growing up there inform your relationship with music in any way?
Ouri: Absolutely. I mean, I was studying classical music for most of my time in France. I was really into the academic system that, finally, I got kind of sick of. I wanted to find—I knew I had to find something that would allow me more freedom of expression in music. [Music] was really the only thing I had. At some point, when music became too controlled by academia, I was looking for a new route. This is how I landed in Montreal. My brother talked to me a lot. His friends, everyone was talking about Montreal [and] how cool it was. A city for artists and music and experimentation.
V: Do you think you would’ve made the switch from classical music to the rave scene and the electronic music world if you hadn’t moved to Montreal?
O: I was always listening to electronic music in France, so I had a strong interest in it. But the freedom and the approach really, I think, come from the Montreal scene. The underground scene. It almost shaped my way to do music—how to be free, how to keep being persistent in very free environments of creation. Sometimes it can be a bit troubling to have this scene. This community was reassuring, but also very freeing. I would’ve probably found such a community in France, but in Montreal, it was something special.
V: It sounds like it was almost like an ethos change for you, which is awesome. You mentioned listening to electronic music in France. Could you share any of your earliest musical influences? The first artists and musicians that you were really into at that time?
O: I remember my brother was showing me Africanism. Also all the French DJs, Daft Punk, many things that were kind of the typical French thing. I also listened to—my brother also showed me a lot of rap music from the U.S., R&B, and that more pop scene. Really, I was listening to that a lot. I was a fan of all the pop-heads from the 90s, all the music.
V: You play several instruments—the harp, the cello, the steel guitar, the synthesizer. When did you pick up your first instrument?
O: I was pretty young. My mom really wanted us to have musical training because she believes it really helps the brain develop and everything. When I was five years old, I started playing the piano. One year after, harp, and then I wanted to switch. During my scolarité, I was always in classes where in the morning I would go to school, and in the afternoon I would go to conservatory. I needed to switch to the conservatory and not be in music schools. The harp teacher was very rigid and scary. My mom knew that I was super sensitive and I have a very strong head. I couldn’t have a teacher that was like this. She was like, “Maybe you want to play another instrument?” And I decided I wanted to play double bass. Finally, it was too big for a little girl like me, so I chose a cello. When I arrived in Montreal, I bought a slide guitar, I bought synths. I bought a bass, an eclectic piano. I wish I could play more.
V: What was the inspiration behind “Felicity”? Reading the title, it felt connotative with happiness. Does it have anything to do with that emotion?
O: The inspiration was—me and Antony [Carle], we’ve been making music for a long time together. Really having extreme get-togethers. It would never be simple in terms of emotions; it would always be extreme. We’re always dancing and just—there was always a lot of energy. This song is softer compared to the rest of the songs we have, but it’s still very—I don’t know, I think it’s elegant and soft, and sensual. We just needed some sort of escapism. I wanted to also bring all my instruments together. I did not bring all of them together, but the harp, the slide guitar, the synth, and voice. We wanted to keep it super simple. I feel like I was always trying to do a maximized adventure with my songs. For this, I wanted to do something a bit simpler so Antony’s voice could shine. I feel like it did. I think it feels super soothing. At first, it was kind of a technical thing I wanted to do with my instruments, and then with Antony. Then it became this sensual adventure.
V: You mentioned that you’ve worked with Antony before. I’d love to get an idea of how you met, what your first projects were together, and just a sense of your collaborative history.
O: We met through a collaboration in the past with someone else. I really liked them. They were just this brilliant person with a lot of talent, hard-working. One of the few vocalists who actually can mix their voice. That was awesome. I remember I was going through a super tough time, breaking up [with someone], and feeling super alone. I feel like they also needed to find some space to create. We decided to do this retreat in my very cheap, very crappy apartment, for two weeks. They would come to my place every morning at five a.m., and we would put our phones away. Just make music, get all the ideas out, and cook all the meals together. It was kind of like art therapy. Like, at home, just the two of us. It was really the first time I did this with someone—to get this close while creating music. It was a very special way to start our friendship and our collaboration. That was a few years ago, and we haven’t released the songs yet. It’s something that is ongoing. But I helped them on their solo project, and this is the first time I have had them on mine.
V: Reading prior interviews, I saw that at the start of your career you were DJing and producing. Finally, you did some vocals on [2018’s] We Share Our Blood EP. In the years since that EP, have you found yourself getting more comfortable performing vocals for your own music? And what helped you get to that point?
O: When you listen to music, there is so much different music, so many different voices. You just decide that you can exist, too. When I was a child, I was doing many different instruments, but I was also in a choir. I’ve been in a choir for many years. So, I found it super strange to not use my voice. The voice is maybe the most direct instrument, and to not use it was kind of a way to keep some distance. When I started making music, I wanted to be anonymous and not be defined as a “female producer.” I thought it was super—I don’t know, it didn’t sound like a compliment. It was kind of this justification of something. And then I was like: I’m not going to change the system, but I can still expand myself. It’s not, “Because people like to put you in one box, I need to put myself in one box.” I can do more things. I can work on it so I feel confident and ready to share it with other people. Also, during the weeks I got together with Antony a few years ago, they would always encourage me to sing. I was cool with writing songs, and then I was like, “Actually, I have an idea. I have to express it.” It would be different if I had no idea and I didn’t like my voice, but I was there supporting the singers I was working with. They were also telling me that I should sing. I don’t know, it was kind of this community, but also it was something I had done in the past.
V: What do you want listeners to take away from “Felicity,” especially if it’s one of their first exposures to your music?
O: I would love for them to really dive into the melodies. Just follow all the curves, you know. The curves on the crazy melodies Antony’s singing, or the curves on the slide guitar. And just slow down a bit, [with] what they’re doing at the moment, and relax and fantasize a little bit.
V: Who’s on your playlist most recently?
O: I’m listening to a lot of Slauson Malone. It’s kind of sick. My friend Victor showed it to me. I’m listening to River Tiber, also, and I’ve been listening to a lot of Grouper because times were hard and I needed some softness.
V: What’s next for you? What should people be looking out for in the coming weeks and months?
O: A new album, after this. So many more collaborations. I am also collaborating with Helena [Deland]. We have a band called Hildegard. We have more stuff coming for that, more videos. I have another band also, Paradis Artificiel. Another album for that. So there are many things that are coming on different sides. Maybe also some more classical projects, actually. I’m starting my own label with this release, and I wish to make more different sounds. Bring back the classical a bit more in my perspective.