How Loig Morin Became an Unlikely Lynchpin in Vancouver's Indie Music Scene

The sought-after DJ and producer is gearing up to release his sixth album after immigrating in 2010 without speaking any English

Photo: Marc De Vinci

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Feb 14, 2023

If we're all no more than six degrees of separation away from one another, some people in certain communities are the single acquaintance link in their own right.

That's the best way to describe the pervasiveness of Vancouver's Loig Morin — producer, DJ and electropop singer-songwriter — in the local music scene. Originally from Brittany, France, Morin moved to the city in 2010 with his wife and twins, who were three at the time, not speaking a lick of English.

Pursuing music hadn't been panning out for him in France and his family hadn't been happy there, so the musician sold his instruments to pay for the flight to Vancouver. "It was not the plan for me to come to Vancouver and play music," he told the Georgia Straight in 2021, "but when we arrived in Canada, our life and the music just came like 'boom!'" Morin recalls that, within about four months of relocating, someone from Radio Canada who was familiar with the music he had released in France asked if he could come in for an interview.

Since embracing musical life in Canada, he has released five albums: Lonsdale (2012), La riviere (2018), Citadelle (2019), Printemps (2021) — which he just released a remixed and remastered version of on streaming platforms — and Automne (2021).

But that's not all: the jack-of-all-trades has also pursued DJing throughout his time in Vancouver. It's something he started doing back in 1989, after growing up playing guitar in bands inspired by the Cure, the Smiths and New Order. It was in 2013, when he was the permanent DJ at the Shangri La Hotel, that he made the acquaintance of entrepreneur Jamal Abdourahman. By the following summer, Abdourahman had asked Morin to be the official music producer of Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) — a post he still holds.

While he continues to work for VFW and DJ, Morin has been focusing more on his own music. Like many things, this begun with the pandemic: when he was deep in the throes of lockdown depression early on, he decided to stop drinking. Instead, he challenged himself to delve deeper into introspection and work day and night to amalgamate all of his musical influences into his first entirely self-made project.

In his elaborate Loig's Music Lab home studio, Morin recorded, produced and mixed both Printemps and Automne, the first two of four seasonal albums. Although he had previously worked with Vancouver's best and brightest, recording 2019's Citadelle at Sarah McLachlan's studio with Chris Potter (R.E.M., the Tragically Hip), he considers himself more of an introvert and enjoys spending hours upon hours in the lab, composing or just exploring new sounds on his array of analogue and digital synthesizers. "It's a bit like space travel," he told CBC Radio Canada last year. "There are no limits."

Despite this introversion, Morin is collaborative to his core. Whether it's performing songs from Citadelle with the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra or producing Intertwine, last year's cinematic debut EP from local indie pop artist Maude, he's always finding ways to connect. One of Morin's prolific collaborative relationships is with Mississauga-born singer-songwriter Jill Barber. The pair initially met on francophone TV show Tout pour la musique and went on to perform at Vancouver's Festival d'été together, which sowed the seeds of their synergistic partnership.

"We started to be friends," Morin told the Georgia Straight. "I really love her voice, and we had something together — like we click, you know what I mean? So I said, 'Maybe I'll compose a song that you can sing on,' and she was very excited about it." That song became the wistful, energetic lead Printemps single "Romance a l'italienne," which sounds a bit like the electropop-kissed lovechild of "Every Breath You Take" by the Police and "Love Story" by Taylor Swift. 

The duet was such a roaring success that Barber returned to sing on "Tout se passe" for Automne — which also features a duet with folk band Rio Samaya, whose marrying of Latin rhythms and romantic melodies makes Morin cite them as one of his favourite local acts — and will likewise appear on the next two albums in the seasonal cycle, with Adieu Hiver fittingly slated for release this spring. Barber and Morin filmed the music video with director Richard Wilson at Whytecliff Park, near West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay.

Morin returns to another local landmark in the new live video for "Tu m'avais pourtant dit," which reworks the original opening track of that same album, shot by Mac De Vinci at the historic Columbia Theatre. The Moorish-style New Westminster venue opened in 1927 as the province's first atmospheric theatre, making it a fitting locale to debut the musician's revisitation of the song. Although it was only released in 2021, it's undeniable that much has changed in the almost two years that have passed. In an ongoing pandemic and amid social upheaval, nothing has gotten easier to navigate.

This sense of tension colours the dark pulse of "Tu m'avais pourtant dit." Morin's performance of it, complete with film footage on the screen behind him and an understatedly dazzling lighting display, stands as a testament to the strangeness of this moment. The electropop opus evokes bodies and movement, yet the singer-songwriter performs it to an empty room in the austere building.

But no matter how things evolve, Morin remains. In a city best known for its anglophone rock and metal exports, he and his synth-laden, French-laced explorations of electronica and pop are a unique fixture of Vancouver's musical ecosystem — and his lab experiments are primed to explode its future.

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