Every November, around the time when the crispness of fall is toying with the brittle chill of winter, Montreal is abuzz with heaps of Canadian bands and hundreds of international delegates eager to meet (and listen to) them. It’s a week called M for Montreal, a conference with workshops, panels, meet and greets, and yep, loads of artist showcases, all meant to help emerging artists launch their career and export their talent outside of Québec and Canada.
Canada has given birth to some of our dearest and most precious creative minds, from Grimes to The Weeknd, and, natch, Arcade Fire (the band has a legendary status in their home country). We all know these names, the ones that have made it big, but we wanted to know what was next... what should we be listening to that’s not on our radar? So, when M for Montreal came calling, we went without hesitation.
What followed was four days of illuminating artist performances that gave a rare and rooted look into what it means to be a Canadian musician: the long history of folk from early settlers, the language barrier in Québec (do you sing in French or English when your region is Francophone?), and how to break beyond the country’s borders.
In the spirit of discovery that is M for Montreal’s cornerstone, we selected our five most choice Canadian acts from the festival, the ones that got under our skin when we saw them live. These are the names you don’t know yet... but should definitely add to your Spotify rotation, stat. Meet your new favorites, below.