Antony Carle was discovered by accident. The label he was signed to, Bonsound, discovered the French-Canadian musician from Trois-Rivières while opening for the headliner they were interested in. “They approached me that night but I wasn’t ready at all,” he admits with a laugh. “I was performing whatever I could at the time, but didn’t have anything close to an album written.”
Two years later, Carle had written and produced a collection of music he was proud of and was planning to upload the mix on SoundCloud. Before doing so, a friend told him to contact the label that had already expressed interest. He obliged, and on that same day, he was signed.
A musical maestro, Carle taught himself how to play piano and wrote his own songs in his early teens. His passion for music eventually brought him to Montreal, Quebec, where met David Pimentel, a.k.a. Pomo, with whom he started the band Nouvel Âge before deciding to pursue a solo career.
Carle’s debut EP, The Moment, reflects this path towards success, as well as the boldness and pride that comes with being a young, queer individual in the city. Carle’s music is an eclectic, moody, synth-heavy mix, resulting in The Moment being a drug-like experience that feels eerily introspective. Billboard spoke with the new artist to discuss religion, the message in his music, and how queer people are still at the mercy of homophobia.
What do you want listeners to take away from The Moment?
I know that there are a lot of narrow-minded people out there and I want to open everybody’s heart. I also want people like myself to be curious about and explore the history of the LGBTQ+ community. I want everybody to connect with that, but also with the music. Ultimately, I want everybody to have a good time…hopefully. [Laughs.]
What’s the ideal environment for fans to listen to your music?
I think people should purchase the EP on vinyl so they can play it as they get ready to go out. Usually with my friends, we take so much time getting ready that it’s more fun than the actual night out. We spend hours and hours just getting ready, talking and doing whatever — then we go to the venue and we’re like, “Ugh, this sucks.” If people choose The Moment as their music to get ready to, that would be great.
In your new single, “Save Face”, you want listeners know that regardless of the challenges they face, better days are coming. Is this a difficult lesson you had to learn yourself first?
Yeah, definitely. When you’re trying to get something going for yourself as an artist you have to live two lives (the life that pays your rent and the life that you’re passionate about) and invest a lot of money into both. When I wrote “Save Face” I was struggling financially and the message I wanted to communicate was to let people – and at the time, myself – know that good days are coming as long as you stay focused on what you have to do.
Every aspect of your individuality — your look, sound, platform — is edgy and captivating. What inspires you?
Anything and everything. I think music, cinema and theatre can be very inspiring because it’s such a great escape. When you go to see a movie it brings you somewhere else. Sometimes in movies I can see very strong images that inspire me as far as words and content. Initially I wanted to take a sound bite from The Hours with Meryl Streep and drop it in the EP, but I couldn’t for obvious reasons. Even films like Dancer in the Dark, with Björk, were very inspiring to me. For music, everything I’ve been listening to my whole life has had an impact on what I’m doing now. I love Solange and all the divas from the ‘90s, like Mariah.
In your earlier years, you sang at church, and the clergymen said you had the “voice of an angel”. As a queer musician, what’s your relationship with the church and religion?
I’m not religious at all. I don’t go to church or pray to anybody. I don’t want to have anything to do with them, really. I think churches are still magnificent and very inspiring to be in. The architecture is absolutely beautiful.
People said I had the voice of an angel because I have a higher pitch, but I also think it’s because of the unique reverb that a church offers and the beauty of the place itself. Singing in a religious space had nothing to do with my beliefs because my parents didn’t really go to church. They’re the rebels in our family.
Were they accepting when you came out?
There were no issues. But honestly, even though I felt that they were open, coming out is still a big step for everybody, and you never know how they are going to react. People can change on you that same day, but I was very fortunate. They were great. We have a wonderful relationship.
To date, both your sound and visuals highlight issues like gender fluidity, the hardships of queer people and confounding gender norms. Who do you want to be a voice for?
I’m speaking for all the members of the LGBTQ+ community. I think, especially now, it is important to be outspoken about this stuff. When I wrote this album, I was watching a lot of documentaries and videos on what was happening to queer people in the ‘70s – about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson – and I found it relevant today. Take, for example, all of the trans women being targeted and murdered.
I think we still have to raise our voices and erase certain issues. The album is written in this collective voice, but it’s made for everybody. I’m not telling people how to live their lives, but hopefully it can open their eyes to certain things and make them more sensible to certain issues.
In the “Save Face” music video, you hear the disturbing recording: “As long as they do their job and do not want to come out of the closet and force their homosexuality on me in the areas of business or in their schools. They can live their life.” Where is the audio lifted from?
It is from Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign in the ‘70s. It was really, really bad. There’s actually a great video of her doing a press conference and she gets a pie in her face. You should look it up, because it’s delicious to watch.
Every sound bite I include on The Moment is real, as awful as it sounds, and some are quite recent. I found the connection between of all of these messages so important to the album because it still happens today.