Montreal's music scene has always punched above its weight on the global stage. While you might be familiar with homegrown headliners like Simple Plan and Arcade Fire, the city is birthplace of many other global sensations. From indie rock to electro-funk, from orchestral pop to the new wave, Montreal have given the world influential bands without much fanfare for their beginnings.
Among these are a group known for their epic post-rock soundscapes, a duo that infused funk into modern electro beats, and a groundbreaking artist who has redefined the boundaries of electronic and hip-hop music with his unique sound.
Here are nine Montreal-born bands that have made a impact on the music world:
Chromeo, an electro-funk duo from Montreal, has made a significant mark in the music industry with their distinct blend of funk, electronic music, and R&B. Formed in the early 2000s by P-Thugg and Dave 1, Chromeo quickly gained popularity for their catchy hooks and retro-inspired sound. Their hits like "Fancy Footwork" and "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" showcase their unique style. Chromeo stands out for its lively performances and has become synonymous with a fun and danceable sound.
Kaytranada, a Haitian-Canadian DJ and record producer from Montreal, has emerged as a prominent figure in the electronic and hip-hop music scenes. Born Louis Kevin Celestin, he first gained attention with his remixes on SoundCloud. Kaytranada is known for his blend of dance music, hip-hop, and funk, as showcased in his acclaimed albums like "99.9%" and "BUBBA." His work is celebrated for its rhythmic complexity and ability to cross genre boundaries, earning him a reputation as a versatile and innovative producer
Men Without Hats
Men Without Hats is a Canadian new wave and synth-pop band that originated from Montreal. They rose to international fame in the 1980s, primarily known for their hit "The Safety Dance," which became an iconic song of the era. The band, formed by lead singer Ivan Doroschuk and his brothers Stefan and Colin, was known for their catchy tunes and electronic sound, which was innovative at the time. Their music had upbeat rhythms and memorable lyrics, reflecting the experimental music scene of Montreal at the time.
Bran Van 3000
Bran Van 3000 is a musical collective from Montreal, known for its eclectic mix of rock, hip-hop, and electronic music. Formed in the mid-90s by James Di Salvio, they rose to fame with their hit "Drinking in L.A." Their music is characterized by a diverse range of influences and a collaborative approach, reflecting the varied cultural backdrop of Montreal.
Born Claire Boucher, Grimes began experimenting with music while attending McGill University. Grimes gained prominence with her unique blend of electronic, pop, and experimental sounds, evident in albums like "Visions" and "Art Angels." Her work is characterized by ethereal vocals, layered synth textures, and a DIY ethic. Grimes has been hands-on with her music, often producing, writing, and engineering her tracks. Her music videos, often self-directed, are visually striking and complement her avant-garde style.
Half Moon Run
Half Moon Run is an indie rock band based in Montreal, known for their intricate harmonies and a mix of folk, pop, and electronic influences. Formed in 2009, the band comprises members who met in Montreal, though they hail from different parts of Canada. They quickly gained attention with their debut album "Dark Eyes" in 2012, featuring popular tracks like "Full Circle" and "Call Me in the Afternoon." Their music is characterized by complex, layered arrangements and emotive lyrics, showcasing a unique blend of various musical styles.
The Planet Smashers are a renowned ska punk band from Montreal, known for their energetic music and engaging live performances. Formed in 1994, they quickly became a staple in the Canadian ska scene, blending traditional ska rhythms with punk rock energy. Their catchy, upbeat songs like "Super Orgy Porno Party" and "Life of the Party" have garnered them a dedicated fan base. The Planet Smashers' sound is characterized by vibrant horns, driving beats, and witty lyrics, reflecting the lively and diverse music culture of Montreal. They have played a big role in keeping the ska punk spirit alive.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, often abbreviated as GY!BE, is a legendary post-rock band from Montreal. Known for their expansive, orchestral soundscapes, the band formed in the early 1990s and quickly gained a cult following. Their music, characterized by extended instrumental pieces and an eclectic blend of rock, drone, classical, and experimental elements, often conveys strong political messages. GY!BE's live performances are notable for their intensity and the use of visual projections. Their albums, such as "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" and "F♯ A♯ ∞" have been critically acclaimed and influential in shaping the post-rock genre.
Wolf Parade is an indie rock band from Montreal, known for their energetic sound and unique blend of art rock and post-punk influences. Formed in 2003, the band consists of Spencer Krug, Dan Boeckner, Arlen Thompson, and Dante DeCaro. They quickly gained acclaim with their debut album "Apologies to the Queen Mary," which showcased their talent for combining raw, emotive lyrics with dynamic, intricate melodies. Wolf Parade's music is characterized by a fusion of synthesizer-driven sounds and guitar-heavy arrangements, creating a distinct style that has resonated with fans worldwide. Their contributions to the indie rock genre and the Montreal music scene have cemented their status as one of the city's most influential modern bands.