Words & photo by Laura Jasmine
Ottawa singer songwriter Eric St-Cyr has been performing as a solo artist for almost two decades but his project “Archy the Cockroach” was born three-and-a-half years ago when St-Cyr’s mother mentioned the story behind the pseudonym created by American novelist Don Marquis A hundred years ago.
According to the story, “Archy the Cockroach” would sneak into Marquis’ apartment during the night and go to his typewriter to write poetry, which he would then publish at NY Times weekly column. St-Cyr found the story intriguing and thought of it as a great way to express himself without putting his real name on it.
He was initially performing as a duo, which then turned into a solo project. He sometimes invites close friends to work with him on live shows or records, but does the majority of the work for his albums on his own.
St-Cyr released a full length album “Lone and Longing Night” in June, and has just released an acoustic cover album “1980-1989” at the end of November. Both albums were released on streaming sites with no physical copies made.
“The album released in June is more of a rock album compared to what I’ve done before. It’s probably something I’ll be steering away from in the future,” St-Cyr said. “The songs were written all over the place and each song is a standalone track that are of me coping with life and telling the stories I’ve been through.”
For his most recent cover album, St-Cyr decided to look for inspiration from each of the year he’s been alive, starting from the 1980’s. Some of the artist he decided to interpret are Talking Heads, Cyndi Lauper, and Modern English.
“I was trying to chronologically go through the 80’s music and picked one songs from each year, which was tricky. I went through a list from each year and first narrowed it down to 10, and then to five, and finally one from each year, that I not only enjoyed, but that could also benefit from a cover version,“ said St-Cyr. “Some songs have been done to death so I didn’t want to pick any of those. I wanted to find songs that people haven’t necessarily interpreted in a way that I was going to.”
St-Cyr worked with his girlfriend, local singer/songwriter Alexandra Sullivan on the cover record, on which she performs her interpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”.
St-Cyr admits it could go either way working with someone close to you, but says working with Sullivan was a breeze.
“This was the first time I got to record with her after producing her album last year. It was just really easy. She came in, sang one take, maybe re-did it once if she wanted to. She just has a great work ethic and would practice before coming into the studio. I’m looking forward to working with her on different sectors as well in the future,” St-Cyr said.
St-Cyr records and produces all his albums in his own studio in his basement. He initially kept his studio open to public but has since decided to only keep it for working on his own material.
“I’ve worked with some great artists, produced a couple dozen records in the past of which I’m very proud of but I think those days are done,” he said.
St-Cyr will play some local as well as out of town shows in December, and is looking forward to trying out the new material with the audiences. He will also be going back to the studio to record a new album.
“The acoustic cover album was a fun project that didn’t take me very long to finish. I just fired it off and got some friends involved. I’ve done all the writing for the new album already and having the recording facilities myself so I’m not really too stressed about the time constraint.” St-Cyr said. “The new record will have more of an ambient and experimental feel to it. I like taking conventions and pushing them in a way that no one has done before. We’ll see how far I can push, there are no limits!” •