STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Immersed in the rich traditional music of the French Acadian settlers of Canada’s Prince Edward Island and archipelago, also known as the Magdalen Islands (Îles-de-la-Madeleine), Folk trio “Vishtèn,” featuring twin sisters Pastelle and Emmanuelle LeBlanc and Pascal Miousse, offers a unique and authentic visit into the past.
“I think it’s hard for people to say what we are, because Acadian is not a word,” says Pastelle Emmanuelle, while on tour in Canada. “I think in the States it’s known. There’s always that Louisiana/Cajun comparison, which we don’t mind at all because we feel that we’ve got some similarities. We’re really trying to teach people what Acadian means and where we’re from. So, we’re just trying to push the branding of Acadian Canadian or French Canadian music.”
“We experimented with different instruments,” adds Pastelle. “We really wanted it to sound like us. We were reaching for a sound. Of course, it took years to just kind of play around with it. Every musician in the band has contributed from their experiences.”
Direct descendants of the first colonial families to inhabit the Magdalen Islands; the members of Vishtèn individually embraced their musical heritage. From this inspiration, Vishtèn came to fruition in the early 2000’s. Drawing from their musical roots, the trio continues to meticulously craft their signature sound by combining traditional French-Acadian songs with original compositions accented with powerful driving rhythms.”
“Growing up, we were all kind of immersed in traditional music,” says Pastelle. “When we left where we were from, we realized that was really special. There really weren’t a lot of people going out there and playing this type of music. It was pretty much just locally played. We had a band that we grew up with called “Vershaw” that toured extensively all over the world and in the States quite a bit, but they were kind of finishing at that point. So, there really wasn’t a band on the market that was doing this style and we thought that it was really important that people knew about this kind of music. So, that kind of pushed us into going out there and creating a band. “
“We consider ourselves in the Celtic world,” says Pastelle. “We do play traditional music that is a little bit different from the Celtic world. We sing in French. We do foot percussion that accompanies the music, which brings a big sound. That’s pretty much our drum kit. There’s a different kind of swing to it. I think, from what people tell us and from listening to other bands, that what we are doing is a little bit different than the other groups.”
With accomplished multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, Vishtèn’s blend of guitar, fiddle, piano, accordion, harmonium, whistles, piano, bodhrán, jaw harp, Moog and electric guitar offers a music hybrid that finds them as one of the most uniquely diverse acts in today’s thriving folk circuit.
With four albums to their credit, including last year’s award winning “Terouge” (EMCA (East Coast Music Awards) “Traditional Album of the Year”), Vishtèn is winning fans around the world.
“We are really pleased with what we’re doing,” says Pastelle. “This year we’ve been very busy.
We started the year off in Australia then went to Louisiana and did the New Orleans Jazz Fest. We also did our first UK tour, including Scotland. It’s been fun to share our style of music. We get to travel and meet a bunch of wonderful people from all over the world. You get energy from all these activities.”
“I think we’ll be recording a new album in 2017,” says Pastelle. “We’ve got some new material that we’ve been testing out in the shows and we’ve got some new ideas. We just have to find time. I think the schedule is a little bit looser this fall. So, we’ll most definitely be working on some demos and putting stuff together for the New Year.”
“We feel like we’re developing all the time,” says Pastelle. “It’s not a goal for us to have a hit or something. If it happens, then great. But, that’s not really the goal. The goal is more about playing the music and teaching people about it. We’re doing well and we’re really doing what we love and doing it at a pace that we’re fine with.”
To stay up to date with Vishtèn, visit www.Vishtèn.net.