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La Force, Ariel Engle's synth-pop solo project was released this month on the Arts & Crafts label.Chelsee Ivan

You know Ariel Engle as a singer with the Canadian indie-rock kingpins Broken Social Scene, as one half of the poetic electro-rock duo AroarA (with her husband Andrew Whiteman) and as a member of the seven-headed supergroup Hydra. Then again, you really don’t know Engle at all. That’s due to change with the arrival of La Force, the synth-pop solo project of the Montreal musician and vocalist whose sublime self-titled debut album was released this month on the Arts & Crafts label. Recently Engle sat down with The Globe and Mail to introduce herself.

Raised in China, Indonesia, Scotland and Montreal, she’s a child of the world: “My parents taught English as a second language and they love to travel. My mother is American who spent some of her childhood in France. My father was from Israel, but grew up in New Zealand. He was a bagpipe-playing Israeli rugby player. My mother met him in Ottawa. She was engaged with someone else at the time. My father was renting a room in her fiancé’s house. He would sing her Donovan songs and they fell in love.”

She likes world music, but prefers it not be called that: “I don’t like the name of the category. It’s tacky, very ‘us and them.’ It’s like, ‘We make music. They make world music.’ I don’t like that at all. But I love Zimbabwean music and South African music – basically the whole continent of Africa.”

She has no illusions of control: “You have these moments when everything coalesces, and this incredible beauty. In my case, it was feeling of having a wonderful child. Everything was going perfectly, but, for me, it’s waiting for the tragedy. The song Lucky One is about the illusion of having control of your life. My father died during the making of the album. He was a big personality and a feminist alpha male, and we realized after he died that he was the centre of the family. So, it’s been an awkward reformation for us because we are a very tight family unit, with my brother. Growing up travelling around, we were ‘other.’ And that solidified our micro-culture as a family.”

All she wants is the chance to trance: “I’m really interested in how music can bring you into an altered state. I think it’s represented on the album with the song The Tide. It’s often expressed in religious music. I’m basically non-denominational devotional music. I like music where I feel there is a desire for some kind of transcendence or lift-off. Andrew and I went to a Tragically Hip concert. I remember watching Gord Downie and thinking, ‘He’s a catharsis maker. Look it him do his job. Man, does it work.’ It’s like when Van Morrison goes into one of his states. Or Nick Cave. That’s what I want – I want to get to that place, as a singer and as a performer."

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