Meet Maxim Cormier, Fresh From the Nova Scotia Celtic Music Scene (Interview)

Maxim Cormier

Instrumental music is the rage again as Celtic musicians release fantastic albums this year. One of them is this young man from Cape Breton. His name is Maxim Cormier. He just released a self-titled album which I really enjoyed and wrote about in my  review. His music is filled with youthful energy and the serenity of the Nova Scotia landscape. I am sure his music will appeal to everyone , even those who are not into Celtic music. This is because the charm of his music lies in the understanding of the various moods that inhabit the landscapes of the soul. And this is a  universal thing. So if you haven’t gotten yourself a copy of Maxim Cormier yet, now is the time. And I mean it. You will enjoy this album!

Halifax is steeped in diverse music.Can you cite the artists you listened to after you got your guitar in your 11th birthday?

I grew up in Cheticamp NS. a small francophone community on Cape Breton Island. I grew up listening to just about everything other than the popular music that has been released during my lifetime. haha. I listened to my parents’ favourites (such as Supertramp, the beatles, james taylor, etc). Being from Cape Breton, Celtic Music has also been a huge influence on my playing.
For the last 4 years, I have been listening to a lot of Classical Music (From J.S. Bach to Bela Bartok to Steve Reich to Leo Brouwer, etc), Jazz (Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Lenny Breau, etc), and “contemporary acoustic guitarists” such as Michael Hedges, Pierre Bensusan and Don Ross.

The opening track Anticipation reminds me of the sound of a clock ticking. Was this intentional on your part?

In Anticipation was not intended to sound like a clock. I do understand why you got that feeling though. In Anticipation is hard for me to describe. It’s almost polyrythmic and it has an almost constant sense of pulse throughout most of it. Like I said, it’s hard to describe..

In Anticipation was one of those pieces that kind of just came to me out of nowhere. I knew wanted to find a way to keep the bass notes ringing constantly while bringing a sense of pulse to it. Which is where the idea of the pulsating bass notes came from. Then, in an effort to not let the pulse take over, I added a syncopated melody against it.

I think the parallel between “In Anticipation” and a clock is that the low sounding pulse isn’t a dominating sound in my piece. The click of a clock isn’t dominating sound in everyday life.. In fact, it’s hardly noticeable unless you have a migraine.

Track 7 (Mezquida) is a personal favorite. What’s the inspiration behind the melody?

I’m really glad you like Mezquida. It was written as an homage to Cuban classical guitar composer Leo Brouwer, who’s full name is Juan Leovigildo Brouwer Mezquida.

I stumbled upon the opening chord I used in Mezquida when I incorrectly played the opening chord to a Leo Brouwer Etude (Etude #6). The main melody was inspired by that opening chord that I discovered. The rest of the piece features ideas such as alternating measures of 7/8 with measures of 4/4 and moving chord shapes around while maintaining constant open string.

 If a much younger guitar enthusiast approaches you for an advice about releasing a guitar album, what are the dos and don’t s you’d like to share?

I don’t have enough studio experience to feel comfortable giving extensive advice. What I can say is 1) Go to a professional recording studio with state of the art gear, a great sounding room and a good engineer. bedroom studios are getting popular, but I really believe they should mostly be used to make demos. 2) Know what you want and stick with it. I knew before walking in the studio what pieces i was going to record and who was going to play on the tracks that needed accompaniment. 3) Despite having just said “stick with it”, keep an open mind. If you have a good engineer, he/she’s probably worked on more projects than you have 😉

I am curious about the album photos. They really convey the easy and expansive feeling of the music in this album. Where did the shoot happen?

The shoot was in my hometown (Cheticamp, NS). Photos by Jaron Felix in may 2012.

 What will happen now that the debut album is out and what are the big musical things you are anticipating?

I just finished the 3rd year of a Bachelor’s of Music with a concentration in guitar performance at Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS). I’m currently part of a classical guitar quartet and I’m also building a jazz repertoire. This summer, I will do some touring. In september, I will return to Dalhousie to complete my degree. Once I graduate, I want to tour Europe for a 3-4 months then I’d start working on a second album.

That sounds like a great plan. You seemed to have figured everything out in your musical career! I know that you have performed with great musicians spanning world class venues including the Celtic Colours. For those who are yet to take part in these Celtic music events, what can they expect?

Celtic Colours is so much fun. SO MUCH FUN. It’s a 9 day festival held in Cape Breton during the month october. It features world class musicians from all over the world as well as the top local Celtic musicians. It also features Gaelic Song, Dance, etc. Celtic Colours events are held in venues all over Cape Breton. At night, when all the shows are over, everyone meets up at the Gaelic College in St Annes where “Festival Club” happens. Festival Club is magical. Fans and keen listeners come to have a drink and listen to more music as the musicians take this opportunity to play with old friends or with new musicians they’ve just met.

 What are the top 7 albums you are listening to currently?

1- Chick Corea Akoustic Band
2- Los Angeles Guitar Quartet “Guitar Heroes”
3- Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer: Music for Two
4- Michael Hedges: Aerial Boundaries
5- Scott MacMillan’s “Mackinnon’s Brook Suite”
6- Esbjorn Svensson Trio: Strange Place for Snow
7- Any recording of Andrés Segovia

Where can people buy your new album?

People can buy my album at:

and people in Nova Scotia can buy it at:
-Select Sounds (bedford)
-Obsolete Records (Halifax)
-CD Heaven (Dartmouth)
-Antigonish 5c to a dollar store
-Celtic Music Interpretive Center (Judique)
-Charlie’s Country Music Store (Cheticamp)
-Cape Breton Curiosity Shop (Sydney)
-The Coast store (Glace Bay)
-Gaelic College Gift Shop (St Annes)

These are just misc questions:

Favorite Color: I honestly don’t have one.

Zodiac Sign: Scorpio.

Pet Peeve: Forgetting something at home. It seems to happen far too often lately.

What’s great about being in Music: Being able to explore what I love while getting a degree for it.

Best Childhood memory: Playing for over 5000 people at “Les Jeux de la Francophonie Canadiennes 2005”. I was 14.

Things you can’t travel without: New music to listen to.



What’s hot this month:

Artist: Kevin O’Donnell

Album: Deep is the Well

Players: Jim DeWan, Finbar Furey, Larry Gray, Kathleen Keane, Bill Lanphier, Maurice Lennon, Haley O’Donnell, John Rice, John William, and Jessica Willis

Style: Irish Country, Americana


  • A Letter Home
  • When I Was Young
  • Factory Girl
  • Downtowner Motel
  • Girl from Durango
  • Illinois & Michigan Canal
  • Camp-Farm Road
  • Rusted Dreams
  • She
  • The Ballad of Jackie Ryan Fagan
  • Saint Malachy’s Waltz

Album: “Babel Pow Wow

Artist: Dom Duff

Location: Brittany

Original Release Date: April 18, 2013


1. Buan yann buan

2. Bitter Lands of Llydaw

3. Noa

4. Chikoloden groove

5. Floc’h ar jabadao

6. A-du gant an avel

7. Babel pow wow

8. Houarn & lêr

9. Buzhug’o’matik

10. Koroll gouez

11. Treizh

12. En tu all d’an treizh

13. Foeter breizh

Artist: Enda Seery

Album: Síocháin na Tuaithe

Location: Streamstown, Co. Westmeath

Players:ENDA SEERY-Whistles, flute, keyboard, vocals. JOHN BYRNE-Guitar.



  1. The Scholar/Sam’s Delight (ES)/The Night Owl Time (ES) Reels 4.02
  2. The Castle/The Nightingale Jigs 3.25
  3. Peggy in the Settle/Day Trip to Galway (ES) Single Reels 2.47
  4. It’s A Working Man I Am Song 5.12
  5. The Dairy (ES)/The Belfast Hornpipes 4.06
  6. Santa Cruz (ES)/Friends from the States (ES) Jigs 2.38
  7. Amhrán na Leabhar Slow Air 3.03
  8. An Bhfuil an Fear Mór Istigh? Set Dance, Slip Jig 2.39
  9. The Golden Keyboard/John Blessing’s/The Highlandman Who Kissed HisGranny Reels 3.23
  10. My Aunt Jane/The Gullane/The Rambling Sailor Polkas 3.42
  11. Jearóid/You Rogue You Daren’t Meddle Me Slow Reel, Reel 3.02
  12. The Killeigh/Langton’s of Kilkenny (ES) Hornpipes 3.20
  13. Loving Hannah Song 4.28
  14. Tatter Jack Walsh/An Luradán/The Hag With The Money Jigs 3.31
  15. Síocháin na Tuaithe (ES)/Ralph’s Paw (ES) Slow Waltz, Jig 3.23
  16. Larry’s Favourite/The Floating Crowbar/The Chicago Reels 4.51

Band: The Indulgers

Album: Whiskey Tonight

Location: Boulder/Golden Colorado

Members: Damien McCarron – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Nile – Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin, Harmonica and Electronic Bagpipe
Renee Fine – Fiddle/Violin
Aaron Haywood – Bass
Francesco(Cheech) Mannone – Drums
Guesting on occasion:
Neale Heywood – Guitar
Ryan Bunnell – Guitar


1. Whiskey Tonight/2. Ceili Mor /3. It’s You /4. Hold On to You /5. Story Rory /6. Lady Jane /7. New Lease On Life /8. Man of All Seasons /9. Doin’ Fine/10. Roll This Stone/11. The Cure/12. Dreaming of You/13. Big Storm Rising/14. Dublin Day


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