By Séamus Smyth

I, on behalf of the SAIT school newspaper The Weal, recently caught up with one of Canada’s most consistent rock stars of the past decade, Sam Roberts. He discussed his new album and the advantages of knowing a second language.

The Weal: Some of your fans aren’t aware that you speak both English and French fluently. How important is it to you to carry the francophone torch in Canada’s music industry?

Sam Roberts: We are in a position as Quebec artists to have grown up in a place to not just know both languages but to actually live it on the street. You have these incredibly strange conversations. Things will slip back and forth 20 times between English and French. Certain parts feel better speaking one or the other. Our music has always been about inclusiveness, universality and not drawing lines about where you come from.

W: Do you think it’s important for students to attempt picking up a second language instead of focusing on English?

SR: Yes, it must be pretty hard when you are at school these days to work around the dominance of English, especially right now with the growing presence of the Internet in the school world. It’s basically the linguarama of the Internet. There is so much pressure to focus on English all the time. What it (a second language) brings to your life is beyond value. Just in terms of opening up the possibility of actually conversing with somebody else in French or Spanish especially coming out of university when you gotta’ take those few years of figuring shit out. So if you can go with another language under your belt, you open up your world to a whole bunch of new opportunities.

W: Many Albertans love to use the French colloquialisms “Comme ci, comme ca” and “C’est la vie.” Could you provide me with a classic French saying that SAIT students probably aren’t familiar with?

SR: (Laughs) “La passé de coyote,” which means they are ever present and U-turn. I was in the car with a French speaking lady and she said it and I looked at her and thought “what the hell did you say?,” and suddenly she turned the car around and did a U-turn.