It’s not just angry people on social media, there are also spreaders of joy. Like the singer-songwriter Damien Robitaille, who has supported the morale of his subscribers since the start of the pandemic with covers of famous hits or his own songs, made with the mitten in his basement, where he sometimes plays of all the instruments in a man-orchestra. Voice, piano, flute, electric or acoustic guitar, percussion, beat box, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Theremin appear soon.
If in Quebec (and in Brazil, it seems), we know well its viral production at the time of the virus, it took him 137 videos before “breaking the Internet”, as they say, with a recovery of his own. Pump Up the Jam of Technotronic, a big success of 1989, in which appears Suki, his Akita dog, imperturbable in front of the creative delirium of his master who spends endless hours every day refining his interpretations.
When ex-basketball player Rex Chapman, a big influencer on the Twitter platform, shared Damien Robitaille’s performance (as did actor Elijah Wood!), The video reached 3 million views in just a few minutes hours and at the time of this writing, we were approaching four million. Not to mention views of the same video on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube or Facebook.
Damien Robitaille is happy about it, of course, but he felt that it only took “a little something to make everything tumble”. After several weeks of production alone at home with Suki, he was able to analyze the reactions of Internet users, and the Franco-Ontarian artist, who has always flirted a little with the margin, has probably never received so much attention. that since this marathon started for very personal reasons, basically. If there is one lesson to be learned from what Damien Robitaille is doing at the moment, which on the surface may seem light and sympathetic, it is that it has been a way for him not to give up.
The pandemic canceled its contracts and shows. Last year, he went through a separation and his children moved to Spain, where he could not visit them for five months. “I had a choice,” he explains to me. Either I stayed home, watching movies, drinking and being depressed. Or else I would roll up my sleeves. You don’t have a contract, but go for it. Work, have fun and good things will happen to you. And so far, it’s paying off. Because even before Pump up the Jam, it got me lots of contracts. It really saved my skin. When you don’t have an album, and nothing new is happening, you’re less invited to TV or radio. Doing that generated interest, invitations, online shows. The world only talks to me about that. ”
Damien Robitaille works like crazy on each of his proposals. He publicly apologizes when he skips a day without posting a video, when he has no deadline. The one Anaïs Favron nicknamed the “Chuck Norris of music” because he never gets tired admits that all this occupies his days. “It can take 8 hours per song. Learn the toune, practice, film afterwards, poke the right grip, the clothes, the lighting, the editing, and all. I am obsessed with it, it’s magic. I get up in the morning and wonder: what song am I going to do today? ”
It’s as therapeutic for him as it is for us. One distressed morning, feeling like a wreck drinking my coffee, his version of Sabotage the Beastie Boys made my day. This is what many Internet users write when sharing their videos: “it’s been my day”. A leitmotif of the toune Pump up the Jam: “Make my day”.
“Music saves me,” he says. It gives me a schedule. The important thing, beyond money and all that, is pride. You go to bed and you’ve accomplished something with your day. I am often moved when I finish a toune, even if it’s silly, because I put my soul in it. ”
Whether he takes over the Spice Girls, Bob Dylan, ABBA or Haddaway. He believes he has evolved since the start of the pandemic where he offered a little more sad pieces. Now it adapts to the general mood. “I watch the weather a lot, and what’s on the news too. “When two children were kidnapped by their father this summer, with the disastrous outcome that we know, Damien Robitaille chose to humbly sing Runaway Train from Soul Asylum on guitar. “From time to time, a good walk feels good,” he sums up.
Damien Robitaille’s last album before the health disaster was a Christmas album in 2019 entitled “Soon it will be Christmas”. What we will not celebrate soon in 2020, if we want that at Christmas 2021 we will not remember having infected loved ones. Like everyone else, he waits for instructions, and he doesn’t know if he will be able to see his children, even though he is the spokesperson for the Christmas activity in the park, he where is due to occur on December 18.
But, spurred on by the viral success of his vision of Pump Up the Jam, he was already preparing his next video, because you have to beat the iron while it’s hot. What about Suki in all of this? The one who added the magic ingredient to the video by looking almost jaded to live with a somewhat zealous multi-instrumentalist? Because it took his human companion to get a drinkable version around 11 p.m. that night. “She is good chill, answers Damien Robitaille. She’s a funny bitch that doesn’t require a lot of attention, like a cat dog. It came when I had a good take, the only perfect one. I kept it, telling myself that people would find it nice. ”
I don’t think she could resist either. Or it was just time to go to bed.