Nick Durocher has had a strange few years. The Ottawa musician kicked off 2022 with a career headed in the right direction: booking a gig in front of more than 70,000 people – the largest show he’s ever performed – and seeing his face on a billboard. Show at downtown Toronto’s Yonge Dundas Square. His stage name is TALK.
It was the culmination of nearly a decade working across the country as a country band guitarist, creating songs on his own when he found the time and trying to connect with the crowd in every way possible.
But in an unexpected stroke of luck, he didn’t discover the equation until after the COVID-19 pandemic hit – when he found himself out of a job and forced to move back into his parents’ basement.
Durocher, then 25, used his loneliness and unique fascination with space and Matthew McConaughey to compose a song, Run to Mars. After years of struggling, this turned out to be the solution. The sad song went viral on TikTok, garnering thousands of fans and making it a Twitter highlight. The Late Show with James Corden.
CBC News sat down with Durocher to talk about the song’s origin, how he’s seen it affect others, and the long journey to the rock and roll glam he is today.
hour | Running TALK’s Away to Mars:
Right from the start, I was curious: where did the name TALK come from?
So I never shut up. That’s the first thing. I always had something to say, ever since I was a kid.
I also love Coldplay, especially the song incidentAnd I wanted to bring Chris Martin and Coldplay with me. This decision was made, say, eight years ago now, and the TALK command makes sense.
Speaking about eight years in the past, I’d like to ask you about your musical background or profession. Obviously, the dimple has been on the rise over the past year, but where did it start?
It started when I was four years old, when I started playing the drums – I was pretty much Justin Bieber, if you ask me [laughs]. And then I was jumping around a bunch of different tools. I didn’t really fall in love with anything, but I did find a love for music in general. My older brother is a great singer and so he paved the way. Not as a solo artist, but as an actor on Broadway – he worked there Sesame Street It’s Junior George fragile rock at the current hour.
But I thought it was kind of a lie, the lyrical thing. Because I did not understand him or did not know him. But then high school came along, and I had a teacher who encouraged me to sing, and it turns out I can do it really well. Then came the passion.
After that I toured, played bass in a country band for a little while, and then had the opportunity to write my own songs. I just decided to give it a try, maybe 10 years ago, and that got me here – after a lot of trial and error, a lot of really bad songs, terrible songs. Lots of deleted songs — things I couldn’t even find if I wanted to — came out of frustration. Because I knew what I wanted to do, and that’s what I’m doing now.
We’re talking about deleted songs, or not-so-good songs. You obviously discovered your voice. It was a hit song that resonated with millions. Where did this song come from?
This song came from a lot of loneliness and the pandemic. Run to Mars I arrived about two in the morning on the edge of a bed in my parents’ basement. I just watched Interstellar – This is one of my favorite films of all time; I think Matthew McConaughey is an icon. I love him so much [laughs]. And it was going through my head, like, he wanted to run away or, like, walk away to save the world.
And there’s a little bit of that, there’s a little bit of that The Martian With Matt Damon, all of these space movies deal with isolation and the scale of space. And I was alone and I was, well, the furthest place I could theoretically go: this Mars.
And I just sat on the edge of the bed and came out really fast, like 15, 20 minutes. The body of the song was there. It was missing some details, but it was pretty much there.
How did you feel when you saw how this song affected people over the past year?
It’s a very humbling experience, people tell me their life story and they tell me, you know, they didn’t end their lives because of the song and it meant a lot to them. It just kind of came out like it was for me. You know, it was a song, it was my song, but now it belongs to everyone. Like, there are comments on YouTube that were, like, “I’m such a big fat truck driver. I never cried. But when I heard that, I stopped and told my friends I love them. Things like that, where you tell people to spread some love, tell people what’s going on.” All of those things. It was awesome. It was a great experience.
But the song also helped you connect, even with your French roots.
Yes, my mom speaks French completely. It wasn’t my native language, but I learned in school and then worked for a company in French for a bit before doing all this. My mother yelled at me in French, but I refused to speak French as a child. My aunt was trying to pay me to speak French. You’ll say, “I’ll give you five dollars if you speak French to me!” And it never worked out, I don’t think so. Maybe once.
I didn’t want to do that for some reason. But now I love him, and some of his most dedicated fans are in Montreal and Quebec. I played in front of 70,000 or 80,000 people in Quebec last summer. That was kind of the beginning of everything, and then TikTok did a good job, that was because of that.
You just said that you refused to speak French as a child. We talked earlier about the fact that you don’t appreciate music despite your talent. Now you seem to know who you are, you know what your music is about. Was it an arduous journey to get to the end?
I guess that pushed me into it, without knowing who I was, or pretending to be someone I hadn’t been in years. But I’m too lazy. J’en ai juste eu marre d’essayer d’être quelqu’un que je n’étais pas, et j’ai rencontré de tres bons amis qui m’ont dit: « C’est qui tu es, il te regarde droit in the eyes. »
At the start of the pandemic, I was unemployed and spent most of my days looking for work – [laughing] Government, I was looking for a job. But a lot of my free time was me singing song after song, trying to get better and better, and then working with people better than me. Then things started to heat up. And I loved every moment.
What is the future of TALK?
I don’t know at this point. I wasn’t waiting for this. I just wish for more of the same. I feel like I prepared for this last year, and it took a little extra time, so a lot of the mental preparation went into that.
And I feel ready, you know, I have a really good score behind me and a great record. I’m currently working on an album that will be released this year. I don’t know when, but it sounds really good – and I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to new songs, and I love what we did. So I have a good feeling.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.