Getting to know In HØck, singer-songwriter from Montreal

Just to warn those of you reading this from the start, there is a tiny bit of profanity in this interview. I didn’t want to alter the answers so I left it in. Anyway, let’s get on with the music! Jules Nominal is from Eastern Canada originally but has been in Montreal for about four years now. He’s currently doing sound at the Brasserie Beaubien bar in Montreal and has been there since his move to Montreal. Somehow I came across his music on Soundcloud or he came across my profile, the details are irrelevant. What’s important is that I fell for his music. Below, Jules goes into detail about where his music comes from and gives us all an intimate peek into his musical and personal life.

So out of my own curiosity, I Googled “In Hock” just to see what would come up. Granted, it’s not spelled the exact way as you spell it but, Google came up with “having been pawned” as the definition. Is this what your musical moniker means to you? Tell me about how you decided on “In HØck.”

I was thinking a lot about debt, living on borrowed time, sin as debt, debt slaves etc. I wanted the name to be an indicator of a certain type of life. A status, I guess. A friend suggested it and I liked it, so kept it. I am interested in the perceived value of things, people, and experiences.

I notice a lot of diversity in the instrumental qualities in your EP. First of all, this is refreshing! Sometimes when every song has a similar sound and drive, it can get boring. I especially like “Somewhere in Between” because it feels like it’s building and then it explodes! How do you map out your songs? Or, do they come as you play?

Thank you! I try to arrange things in interesting ways despite my lack of gear. My approach isn’t really methodical but I experiment with structure and the effect it has on the song as a whole. It varies from song to song, of course. For Somewhere in Between, I wanted to have an unexpected moment, then express some kind of frustrated and unresolved conclusion. It came together after I tried recording it a few times. It’s also, coincidentally, somewhere in the middle of the album.

You mentioned to me earlier that you are a sound guy at a bar in Montreal. Can you share some of your likes and dislikes regarding this kind of work?

This type of work has been very difficult and psychologically exhausting. The nice part is that It has given me an insight into the community of musicians in Montreal as well as touring musicians. There have been moments where I have been inspired by the amazing love for artistry and the dedication of awesome people. Other times, the opposite has been the case and I was disillusioned by how thoughtless some people can be. I also worry a lot about losing my hearing. For the most part though, it’s been great, and I still do it.

Does your EP have a specific order? I’m wondering if you organized the tracks in a particular way. If so, how?

This album was meant to be heard in one sitting and makes more sense as a whole. The songs are mostly chronological and tell a story. Imagine that! The last line on the record is actually “… the end.”

On a deeper level, if you would like, could you share any personal stories about the songs on your EP? I know you mentioned that you have been reluctant to share your music really before now. I’m curious if any of that story is emulated in your EP.

The album deals with existential anxiety, substance abuse, loneliness, paranoia, fear, delusions, to name a few. These things aren’t easy to talk about. Explaining the songs would be a bit redundant, but I feel as though the paradox of feeling meaningless while expressing yourself shouldn’t stop anyone from being creative.  I’ve been reluctant to share because I had to work up the courage to be ok with feeling vulnerable.  Although I’m fairly certain that I’ll be dealing with confidence issues my whole life. Lack thereof or overcompensating, being maladjusted overall. It never ends.

Along that same vein, what inspired you to share your music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp? I just purchased your EP on Bandcamp and now a proud owner it! And, do you have hopes or plans of performing live?

Thank you for your support! Much appreciated. I do plan to perform the album in its entirety on April 12th at Casa del Popolo in Montreal. It looks like I’ll be playing solo for now, but that’s ok. I would love to tour but I have trouble organizing those kinds of things. Putting music online was the logical thing to do in order to share my work. I also can’t afford to make physical copies right now, nevermind touring, so my options were limited.

Who are you channeling musician-wise or otherwise in terms of inspiration when you write your music? Or, is most of it more personal for you? Jules sent me a long list of fantastic songs. I have to admit, I had never heard any of them before. To save space in this post, I put a few songs in a Soundcloud playlist but all of the others are videos.

You talk about your music being more on the darker side. You say “it’s not exactly a ray of sunshine” and how you are “fascinated with these moments of sorrow” that one can experience from time to time. “Someone else’s life is worth more than your own.” That lyric really strikes a chord with the above thoughts. Does writing music and lyrics allow you to explore these moments?

Depression has a way of affecting your organizational skills and motivation. Almost everything overwhelms me. But I know that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by it all. And so when I find music that I can relate to, whether I’m feeling despair or losing hope, or even feeling rather cautiously optimistic, I am relieved that someone else feels the same way. It’s comforting.

I don’t always feel so anxious, but when I do, being creative helps me understand why I’m feeling this way. I think that people shouldn’t feel embarrassed about feeling sadness. But there are plenty of things in the world that can also make you feel happiness, however fleeting it may be.

I can feel and hear the sorrow in some tracks like “No War” and “There’s a Pill ” but there’s sometimes a whimsical or jaunty sound to the tracks despite the seriousness of the content. Do you like mixing lyric and sound and do this on purpose?

Hmm, I’m not sure. Hahaha. Maybe. I might of knowingly ridiculed myself in “Panic!Panic!”for the sake of pointing out the absurdity of hearing voices in your own head and people thinking you’re fucking crazy sometimes. There’s a point where it’s like “I know, this is god damned ridiculous!” I hope to explore this aspect of myself more in the future. I do enjoy a good laugh sometimes, even if it’s a WTF kind of laugh.

From a more long term perspective, where do you see yourself in 5 years time or 10 years? Or, where would you LIKE to see yourself? Feel free to answer this as a musician, otherwise or both.

Oh, I don’t know that I can even imagine that far ahead. I would like to be making records in a more reliable setting. My gear is always breaking down.

You said you’ve been making music for about 15 years. How has it changed since you began AND what are the ages of the tracks on ‘Hock Shop?’ Meaning, are these songs you wrote 5, 10, 15 years ago or more recently?

When I started, recording music was too expensive for me. So I taught myself how to do it. But I figured most people did the same, and now home recording is a lot more common. I still learn things every time I do it, but it’s mostly about how to get the results I am aiming for with what I have and knowing what’s possible.  Techniques I’ve learned through research and experimentation took up most of that time.  I’ve recorded hundreds of demos and worked on dozens of songs that I would never show anyone.

The songs on hock shop were all written and recorded between summer of 2014 and feb 2015. Except Panic! Panic!, which I wrote about 5 or 6 years ago. The feeling persisted so I kept working at it until I felt it was done.

Here are couple of pictures Jules was willing to share with me. Apparently he burned his hand in an apartment fire! If you look closely you can see the bandage on his hand. He said everyone was alright, though.

in hock 2012-2

in hock 2

And here is a music video he created for the song “in flux” off of his ‘Hock Shop’ EP.

Special thanks to Jules for taking the time to do this interview with me. I wish I could see him perform April 12th in Montreal! If you want to hear more of his music find him in “G-L” of “More by that artist.”

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