La Faute, Peggy Messing, is a dreamy folk songwriter, singer, and visual artist from Toronto, Canada. She anticipates her latest project and debut album ‘Blue Girl Nice Day’ on 26th May 2023. She explores themes of surface vs. depth, longing, betrayal, mourning and desire. Using tenor electric guitar and obsolete hardware samplers, she created her captivating live show and released her debut EP just before the pandemic. She connected with fellow artists and producers in France, the UK, Canada and the US to create music during this time, most recently with LA-based Topher Mohr who produced her upcoming album.
Messing tells us more about her new album, her musical inspiration, and her creative process.…
La Faute, nice to meet you. How are things going? Whereabouts are you chatting from right now?
You too. I’m chatting to you from Toronto, where winter seems to not want to end yet, so I’m under a blanket, wearing 1000 sweaters.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I can tell you that talking about myself feels so weird, I don’t think I’m all that interesting. I love making things and then not telling anyone about it, which is not smart career-wise. I’m a Canadian visual artist and singer songwriter, and I sometimes pay the bills by doing design and illustration stuff. I am not a trained musician but I am obsessed with music in spite of it being one of the more difficult and heartbreaking pastimes I’ve ever pursued. I play a bunch of instruments passably well and learned to sing by singing along to am radio in my parents’ car and waiting in lonely bus shelters for the sporadic buses in Winnipeg, Canada.
Has growing up in Canada influenced your music career? If so, how?
I don’t know what it’s like to grow up somewhere else but I’m sure having safety and stability and health care has made it easier for me to have time to pursue music. It’s cold here a lot of the time so you might as well get into making things. I’ve lived in Winnipeg, then Montreal, now Toronto, and they all have different music scenes. A charitable way to describe my music could be “niche”, it’s definitely not a lot of Canadians’ cup of tea, I think we tend to like more classic rock bands and rootsy stuff, so I have had pretty humbling experiences as a musician here. I have driven across the prairies in a blizzard to play nearly empty gigs in coffee shops, I have driven to the maritimes to play empty bars where the one drunk guy is yelling “play some Skynnrd.” Yet I have this weird compulsion to keep going, I can’t seem to help it. Canada builds character!
Your stage name ‘La Faute’ means “the mistake” in French. Why do you make music under this name? What does this mean for you?
I lived in Montreal for a long time and turned my high school French into fairly decent bilingualism, but I never quite got there 100%. I still speak French every day at home and I have probably warped it into my own weird Franglais that only my family totally understands. “La Faute” means the mistake and the fault, with all the connotations in both English and French that implies, because my brain mixes up those two languages. It may have been a mistake to call my project this, because I later realized most English speakers can’t pronounce it. (La Fote).
Your new album ‘Blue Girl Nice Day’ is coming out on 26th May 2023. Can you tell us a bit about the creative process for this project?
I wrote and recorded a lot during the pandemic, wearing the same sweater and jogging pants combo almost daily, my uniform. I sang quietly into the mic a lot when everyone was asleep. I was still recovering from this annoying chronic illness that had hung around for a few years, so I was pretty tired and had to work in small phases. I wrote one song from the album with Villemin, who is based in France. She is so talented and is currently releasing her own piano and synth music currently. She sent me some beautiful sketches and I wrote to them, which was really magical and fun, and it was good to hear ideas that came from someone else.
When I had the songs demoed I reached out to producer Topher Mohr in LA, who I’d worked really well with in the past, and he was willing to accommodate the fact that I couldn’t go anywhere to record. He’s very talented, but also kind and easygoing. We sent files back and forth and exchanged notes and created this music I’m really proud of. I know he’d have preferred to be in the same room, but for me I was just so happy to be able to participate in music at all during this time, I was so grateful to the technology that let me record myself the way I wanted at home. It was like opening presents whenever I got back a file from him, he did such lovely work on this project.
You have already released singles ‘Blue Girl Nice Day’ and ‘Watercolours’ with music videos, and anticipate more music videos. Why is it important for you to create videos to go along with your music?
I love movies and music videos. I have always been a visual artist, before I got into music, that’s the thing that probably comes much more easily to me. When I write lyrics I’m often trying to describe little scenes I see in my head. I don’t want the video to spell out the song literally, it’s more like a visual poem or a movie trailer that can just hint at a story. It’s the perfect marriage of all the things I’ve been interested in, and now finally the technology is accessible and affordable enough that I can DIY it, and I enjoy the constraint of having to make something look decent with just my phone camera. It’s a way for me to offer people a little experience, maybe some entertainment. I can’t really play shows these days because of my vulnerability to Covid, so I want to offer something else instead.
You have explained that the single ‘Blue Girl Nice Day’ was inspired by the story of the Milgram Experiments. Why have you chosen ‘Blue Girl Nice Day’ to be the leading track and title for the album?
The words Blue Girl Nice Day sound so simple and sweet, like something from a children’s book, but they cover such a dark and complicated story about human nature from the Milgram Experiment. The Milgram Experiment was a test about our obedience to authority, and our willingness to hurt others if given orders. Subjects were told to administer ever increasing electric shocks to a “learner” who was supposed to memorize word pairs, Blue/Girl Nice/Day Slow/Dance Sweet/Taste etc. The learner was an actor who would inevitably make mistakes and the subject would be told to give shocks even as the learner cried out in pain in the next room. Almost all experimental subjects showed a willingness to deliver even lethal levels of electricity to the learner, simply because they were told to by the authority figure.
I try to write songs with simple lyrics that hopefully allude to deeper things. There’s something a little off about the idea of “Blue Girl”, it could mean a sad girl, it could mean a girl who is blue with cold or death or yelling blue in the face. It’s just a pretty, meaningless word combo, made up by the experimenters. I love the weird space between words we say and what we actually mean, and I feel like Blue Girl Nice Day sums that up as a title.
What kind of inspirations have you drawn upon when making the album?
I was thinking about quiet, ASMR, lullabies and whispers. Intimate music for private thoughts, the opposite of shouting from a stage. I like the idea that I can sing quietly into someone’s ear from far away, to be a soundtrack to their own thoughts. I’ve spent time singing in bands being asked by guys with super loud guitars and drums to sing louder, and I’m done with that. For my album I was happy to be able to be as quiet as I wanted. I’m always inspired by movies, like In the Mood for Love, Carnival of Souls, Jeanne Dielmann, Wanda by Barbara Loden, and Night of the Hunter of course. I like to imagine the point of view of female characters with very few lines. What is their inner life, what would they say?
Do you have a favourite track off of the album? Why is that?
I don’t have a favourite, I can’t evaluate my own stuff. I can hardly even listen to it after it’s done. I like the lyrics of Magician’s Assistant, I have felt like one of those at times. I think Blue Girl Nice Day was inspired by such an interesting and dark story, so I was glad to be able to make a song of it. I’m happy with the version of The Only Living Boy in New York, my dad might have liked that one if he was still with us. The Lullaby is a cover song from the movie “Night of the Hunter”, which I recommend everyone check out. The effect is really uncanny, I’ve always loved this song. Let it Burn is nice because it has a fun chunky electric guitar riff that I like to play. Sorry I Can’t Stay might be one of my favourites, it is the one that brings tears sometimes. I wrote it with Laure Villemin, she played this beautiful piano part and I came up with the words and melody. It’s sung from the point of view of a dying parent having to maybe say goodbye to their child because of illness. I wrote it during a time when I was quite sick and worrying about my daughter, and during this time a dear family member also passed away and left 3 young kids behind.
Great to chat with you today and wishing you the best with the album release coming up so soon! To finish, is there anything else upcoming from yourself that you can let us in on?
I think I might be releasing videos for almost every single song on this album, with either found footage or stuff I’ve shot myself. I am going to be putting out a remix of Magician’s Assistant that I did with Ryan Carlson, the composer who makes music for Hilda and the Mountain King. I am really happy with it. He’s another musician that I found through the internet. After hearing his work, I reached out and was happy that he was interested in a collaboration. We have been making some really cool spooky synthy stuff together. I think I have resigned myself to the fact that it won’t be safe for me to play indoor shows for the foreseeable future, so I am just moving ahead with more and more writing and recording and music videos. Thanks for taking the time to ask me all of these questions, I appreciate it. Take care, xo Peg.