Alexandre Désilets is a Montreal-based singer-songwriter who has released four pop albums as well as the sweeping orchestral album, Windigo. His career is peppered with awards and honours including the Festival de la chanson de Granby, GAMIQ, ADISQ, and Prix Félix-Leclerc. As he gears up for the upcoming release of the EP Jardin Dead End, we chatted with him about what it was like to perform on Tomson Highway’s musical picture book, Grand Chief Salamoo Cook Is Coming to Town. Marc-Étienne Mongrain What was your familiarity with Cree before recording, and what was it like to sing in Cree? I rarely had the chance to encounter the Cree language before this project. Having the opportunity to sing songs written by Tomson Highway was a great way to familiarize myself with it for the first time. I found it fascinating to be able to play with sounds and linguistic rhythms that were previously unknown to me. I won't hide that it was a big challenge for me in the studio, since I had to work only by ear and because I couldn't rely on my usual singer's reflexes and experiences. I was proud and honored to be able to take on this challenge and privileged to have had Tomson Highway at my side to support me in this artistic venture. The promotion of Cree was one of Tomson Highway’s goals in writing Grand Chief Salamoo Cook Is Coming to Town. What inspired you to get involved? I have always loved musical challenges, vocal explorations, and studio challenges. I am a naturally curious person and have spent a good part of my life exploring the human voice in many forms, in studio and on stage. I simply love singing, and being able to do it in another language, is an opportunity rather than an obstacle—an opportunity to make my voice vibrate in a new dimension and to open my horizons. Several years ago, I was asked to sing in Spanish in a big tribute show to Lhasa de Sela. This experience was motivating, and it encouraged me to want to learn more of this magnificent language, which I continue to discover and perfect even today. Before learning a language, I believe that we must first discover it through cultural exchanges. Artistic projects like this one are a valuable way to create closer links between us. What is your favourite song from Grand Chief Salamoo Cook Is Coming to Town? My favourite song is “Nimoo-chigi-pathin” (I Am Feeling Good), because it’s so playful and joyful. Also, admittedly, I have a little bias since it’s my kids' favourite as well. What was it like to work with Tomson Highway? Before this project, I didn't know Tomson Highway, so it opened a small door into his world and his very vast talent. I really enjoyed working with him. He was open-minded and very patient. It was thanks to his artistic direction in the studio that we managed to bring the songs to life with such authenticity. I was nervous about not being able to deliver because of my unfamiliarity with the Cree language, but Tomson was very forgiving and put us at ease. What are you working on right now? I’m releasing an EP at the beginning of next year. The album is called Jardin Dead End. Grand Chief Salamoo Cook Is Coming to Town! Once upon a magical time, a rabbit named Weeskits hurried home to Kisoos—a town known as the Earth’s belly button—to deliver some thrilling news: Grand Chief Salamoo Cook is coming to town to host a contest! The prize? A year’s supply of all-healing waaskee-choos juice! Would Weeskits be able to win the juice and rid his brother’s wide of the dreadful manchoos? Find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Shop Local (Canada), Indigo, Edelweiss, and Goodreads. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay informed about our new releases, events and for a chance to win our subscriber giveaway. To order books for your library or bookstore, please contact Independent Publishers Group (United States), Hornblower Books/University of Toronto Press (Canada), and MMS/BookSource (United Kingdom). For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.