5 questions for Anne-Marie Withenshaw, Quépop content producer
In the 1990s, Anne-Marie Withenshaw was already a big fan of music. In 1998, she joined Musique Plus where she had the chance to meet idols and share her passion. Twenty-five years later, the host and producer has agreed to dive back into that decade when anything was possible.
The one we see at C' is just from TV and heard on WKND radio, has recruited a team of connoisseurs with well-honed memories to offer us six episodes rich in archives and testimonials to satisfy the most nostalgic like the most curious.
Why revive the 1990s in 2023?
There are nostalgic people, but we also come to a point where we notice that many young people are curious about that time. Myself, when I was a teenager, I loved Metallica, R&B and the music of my parents from the 70s. There is the same gap between the Beatles and Nirvana as between Nirvana and us today. The 90s was the decade when he sold the most albums. Quebec was emancipating, we were trying to export ourselves. We wondered what is left of it, what rebounds.
Was the booking easy?
We brought together 45 artists who generously shared their memories and opened their archives. This is a series that is meant to be a celebration. Only Jean Leloup and Daniel Bélanger refused to testify. I wrote a handwritten letter to Daniel Bélanger, but he doesn't like to dwell on the past. Jean Leloup is like Santa Claus, he is part of our imagination. Talking to journalists is no longer part of his life. I respect that. But hearing Isabelle Boulay or France D'Amour talk about Jean Leloup is magical. It's fascinating to hear Roch Voisine talk about Rochmania, or Josée Aumais, who was Patrick Bourgeois' spouse, talk about BBmania, the fact that she wasn't allowed to be seen with Patrick because the fans were jealous. Same thing for the survivors of the Colocs. I had to announce the death of Dédé Fortin on TV and I have very difficult memories of it.
The series is rich in archives. The music is very present. It must have been a challenge to find and obtain the rights to all this?
I must say that the small team of Quépop is a mean team of nerds. I had several archives engraved in my memory and it was the same for Nicolas Tittley (screenwriter) and Charles Gervais (director). For episode 6, when we approach the dark side of the star machine with Jacinthe, I remembered the front page of the Summum she had done with Elisabetta. Come across a Radio-Canada archive that explains what a rave is, it's delicious. When it comes to music, we have twice as much as in any other documentary. The La négo team, which is made up of specialists, worked hard to obtain the rights. In some cases, for songs that we really wanted, we got them at the last minute. We were hot. But we have nuggets of liberation. Sometimes you have to take a lot of steps to assign the rights to a “Wo-wo-wo-la-la-la-yé-yé-yé” when Mario Pelchat and Céline Dion push the note on Higher than me.
Why did you choose a series without an animator?
It was not necessary. It was going to eat up minutes for people who have a lot to say. There's a fashion for seeing documentaries carried by stars, but that places a point of view, a unique perspective. Éric Lapointe does not have the same perspective as Gabrielle Destroismaisons. I wanted it to be a kaleidoscope. It was an editorial choice. In most cases, I have a teenage memory. I bought Mitsou's first album, but I couldn't remember all the negative attention she received in relation to hypersexualization. I prefer to hear him talk about it.
What great discoveries have you made?
Each episode has its nuggets. France D'Amour who sleeps in his guitar cabin, François Pérusse who was a musician for Jean Leloup, Mara Tremblay who is a great source of information on parties. But I remember that we all have a linear vision of success. For most, the road has been more the fun than the destination. It was a sex-drug-rock'n'roll era that could no longer exist in 2023.
Quépop, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on TVA