Karkwa formed in 1998 and made themselves heard the next year, when the five music die-hards performed at the Cégeps en spectacle contest in Montreal and caught the eye of the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (a France–Quebec youth exchange organization), which invited them to perform at the Printemps du Québec cultural expo in Paris.
With the page turned on that adventure, the band members shifted their attention to separate projects. Not until 2001 did Karkwa truly step back on the scene, making it to the final round at the 7th Francouvertes music competition. From there they embarked on a concert series, perfect for putting the final spit and polish on the elements of their debut album. When Le pensionnat des établis [Boarding School of the Establishment] appeared in 2003, the critics required no further convincing, and Karkwa landed twice at the top of the university charts. There followed some 75 shows across Quebec, as well as newsmaking performances on major stages.
With the launch of Les tremblements s’immobilisent [The Tremors Come to a Halt] (Audiogram, 2005), Karkwa confirmed its marquee role in the world of Quebec rock. The record proved restlessly inventive, stirring in bold collaborations such as Brigitte Fontaine’s vocals on “Red light” and earning the band a groundswell of popular and critical praise. In 2006 the band was honoured with the Félix-Leclerc Award, and they jointly received the Félix for best singer or composer alongside music titan Pierre Lapointe.
In November 2007, the French launch of Les tremblements s’immobilisent sparked a number of tour dates on the other side of the Atlantic. The implications were plain to see: Karkwa’s star was on the rise in France as well.
In April 2008, ten years into their remarkable career, singer/guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier, drummer Stéphane Bergeron, keyboardist François Lafontaine, bassist Martin Lamontagne and percussionist/singer Julien Sagot released Le volume du vent [Volume of the Wind], their landmark third album. Simultaneously serious and irresistibly soaring, Karkwa’s latest record marks a new chapter in a story whose most exciting moments are surely yet to come.
Crowned with a popular and critical success, the latest album won the prestigious Polaris Prize, awarded to the Best Album of the Year in Canada, and a Felix at the Gala ADISQ, for the Alternative Album of the Year in Quebec.