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Photo: Kevin Delamourd / Immersive performance by All Is Well (Fred Everything) at the PHI Centre, presented as part of Habitat Sonore: Live

Habitat Sonore: a place for audio exploration

  • Article
  • PHI Centre
By  StĂ©phanie Girouard  &  English translation by Rafael Poggetti

Habitat Sonore was conceived out of a desire to experiment with sound and music, to make them tangible in space, standing still in time. 

It's a unique offering on a human scale, in tune with the latest developments in immersive sound experiences. A research, exploration and collaboration initiative, the project contributes to the development of artists while fostering PHI's programming.

In September 2022, a post-confinement year still scarred by pandemic fatigue, the desire arose to allow PHI's public to enjoy privileged moments in community, and to experience sound in a different, profound way.

After various configurations, the concept would finally culminate in a permanent immersive listening room in November 2022. Thanks to PHI founder Phoebe Greenberg's vision and the expertise of the creative and technological teams, the Habitat Sonore project was launched.

For the audience, Habitat Sonore means a new way of experiencing sound and music; for the artists, it's a new way of bringing their work and creations to life. PHI reunited artist Frédéric Blais—a prominent figure on the electro scene, better known as Fred Everything, but also for All Is Well, his most recent project, conceived during the lockdown—and Philippe Rochefort, creative sound supervisor at the PHI Centre, for a look back at their collaboration and the experience that led to the premiere of Habitat Sonore: Live.


"We no longer think in stereo, or in binary, we think in space, in objects: sounds are objects that exist in space. We set up objects."

— Frédéric Blais (Fred Everything / All Is Well)

It was Philippe Rochefort who invited Frédéric Blais to visit the PHI Centre's newly renovated sound studio. The studio is a lab for Habitat Sonore, where it is possible to produce immersive mixes in Dolby Atmos format. While initially reticent—"I was skeptical, and I remain skeptical towards all new technology [...] It's important to know why we do things, rather than just doing them..."—Frédéric Blais was quick to see the potential for his album A Break In Time, which he signs as All Is Well. Artistically, sonic spatialization for this ambient, meditative album seemed as coherent as it was unexpected.

So the duo embarked on a creative process filled with unknowns, experimentation and great freedom, sharing the desire that technology should not be used performatively, but rather at the music's service.

"I'd mixed some tracks, but not a full album, it's different, there was a learning curve. You need trust from the artist. [...] Fred knows what he wants, what he wants people to feel with his art. He wants a pure, no-gimmick sound. This was the application of his process in an immersive context."

It was therefore the first immersive album for both the sound engineer and the artist, and also the first live sound spatialization event under the Habitat Sonore banner.

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Photo: Kevin Delamourd / Immersive performance by All Is Well (Fred Everything) at the PHI Centre, presented as part of Habitat Sonore: Live


The release of A Break In Time, under the label Compost, was already scheduled for later in 2023. Ultimately, the launch resulted in an immersive experience: a hundred or so people comfortably seated on beanbags, gathered around Frédéric Blais, who was seated on a small, barely elevated stage.

"We're used to hearing things in stereo. But here, we're talking about immersion, a living picture, an installation of which we become an integral part. At that moment, you're part of that universe."

Every person in the room has access to a unique version of this sound environment, depending on where they stand. As Philippe Rochefort summarizes: "Each person hears an almost personalized mix."

A shared moment, but one that is unique to each individual, intimate and exclusive. A deep, surrounding listening experience, similar to meditation, that brings the audience into a state of awareness that allows for great appreciation of the work.

"At the end [of my live performance], there was a long silence, and I thought 'oh, shit!'... But that was because it took a while for people to 'come back'. There was a deep appreciation of the experience. I had performed the show before, but not like this. This way, it's only going to happen once, and that makes it even more interesting."


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Photo: Kevin Delamourd / Immersive performance by All Is Well (Fred Everything) at the PHI Centre, presented as part of Habitat Sonore: Live

The Habitat Sonore concept, which began as an immersive listening room, has evolved into an artistic ecosystem with a rich and diverse offering. It now includes innovative experiences of live sound spatialization (such as the launch of A Break In Time by All Is Well), and events that bring together music, sound and technology enthusiasts (cocktails, discussions, mediations, etc.).

The programming is renewed approximately every three months, and features both established and up-and-coming artists from here and abroad.

Habitat Sonore puts forward experiences that allow visitors to engage and connect with the artist and their work, thanks to state-of-the-art equipment that lets sound take center stage. After all, beyond the technology, it's a sound and music experience that is sure to delight all ears, audiophile or not.

In the age of hyperstimulation and music platforms that are often half-listened to through the tumult of everyday life, a truly undistracted moment is particularly special. An interlude to be enjoyed on repeat.

Check out the programming for Habitat Sonore: Listening room, Habitat Sonore: Live and Habitat Sonore: Community.


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