Mixmania, 20 years later: touching the sky, then falling from above

In 2002, the show Mixmania was betting on transforming perfect people into young pop stars in a few weeks. Twenty years later, the members of No regrets and Urban defense are reunited again in a documentary on this unprecedented television phenomenon which propelled them to the top as quickly as they fell.

“It’s a phenomenon that everyone has underestimated. But we didn’t know what to expect, it was a first in the world of TV and music, “says Bianca Gervais, who wears the hats of host and director of the documentary, in an interview. Mixmania. 20 years later, airing on Crave on Wednesday. “It was captivating to see these teenagers, who weren’t always good, who sometimes sang out of tune, turn into stars before our eyes. We identified with them, we sang and danced with them, from our living room, ”adds the one who was one of their biggest admirers at the time.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the docureality, Bianca Gervais organized a convent-like reunion between the two groups created during the first edition. Six of the eight Mix responded positively to the invitation: Julie St-Pierre, Ariane Laniel, Annabelle Oliva, Frank Hudon, Emmanuel McEwan and Pierre-Luc Blais. Caroline Marcoux-Gendron and Benjamin Laliberté refused to participate.

Through archive footage, interviews with their nanny, their coaches and even journalists from the time, Bianca Gervais immerses them in the dazzling success they experienced. And to see their reactions to the screen, they still can’t believe it 20 years later.

It must be said that after the show, No regrets and Urban defense sold 250,000 albums, that’s more than U2 in the same year. They performed 227 times in a year and a half, including four times at the Bell Center and once at the FrancoFolies. This is without forgetting their legendary performance at the Galeries de la Capitale, which brought together more than 12,000 Mixmaniacs, some of whom had slept in front of the shopping center in order to be able to sing. The 5 fingers of the hand et Touch the sky with their idols. “You and me to the top, you and me, we’ll never stop!” »

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Fall back to earth

The tour ended, the return to reality was rather difficult for the young artists. The documentary is intended to be a celebration of adventure Mixmania above all, this dark side of the story is touched on only succinctly.

We still see Annabelle Oliva confiding on the screen that she felt ” has-been at age 17, because she was working in a clothing store instead of pursuing her music career. Julie St-Pierre even bursts into tears when the host asks her if she would let her children participate in such a program, torn by the question and visibly marked by her own experience.

“To always be labeled as Julie from Mixmaniait’s difficult to live in adolescence, a pivotal period when you build your personality,” explains Julie St-Pierre in an interview with To have to. The one who is now a host at 107.3 Rouge FM says she still sees the impacts of this experience on a daily basis. “In my professional life, for example, I have long had impostor syndrome. I felt the need to prove myself, to defend my place, to be chosen by others. […] This is still the case today. »

Annabelle Oliva also says she went through “a rollercoaster of emotions” at the end of the tour, even feeling the need to get away from the other Mixes. “It was necessary, I needed to reclaim my identity, to understand what had happened in my life,” she explains over the phone.

“The most difficult, she continues, was to digest that it ends in such a dry way. We were popular, loved, and — presto! – everything stops suddenly. I couldn’t understand why we didn’t do another album, another tour. »

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She also regrets that the production did not provide psychological support for the participants, as is the case today in several reality shows. “At the same time, I understand. It was the first program of its kind in Quebec, we could not have known that we would have this need when we returned to normal life. Twenty years ago, mental health was not a concern like it is today. »

It is a phenomenon that everyone has underestimated. But we didn’t know what to expect, it was a first in the world of TV and music.

The beginnings of reality TV

“We were testing something new on TV, a unique concept, without knowing all that it involved,” explains Pierre Barrette, Quebec television specialist and director of the UQAM Media School. To his eyes, Mixmania was an avant-garde program and above all a starting point for reality TV, without completely having both feet in it since it was a “docureality”.

let’s remember that Star Academy, Loft Story et Occupation double appeared on Quebec television the following year. Without being able to affirm that these productions were directly inspired by Mixmania — since many of them are adaptations of foreign programs — Mr. Barrette sees many similarities with the docureality of Vrak.TV.

“We will announce to the teenagers at home that they have been selected. We find this in Occupation double. The young people live together in a loft, it reminds us of the cohabitation in Loft Story. And, of course, this idea of ​​unearthing talent and making them into stars, which we find in Star Academy or The voice “, he cites as so many parallels.

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To his eyes, Mixmania brought together all the key ingredients found in the majority of reality shows today: competition, visibility or the springboard offered to perfect people, the short-lived popularity of the candidates upon their release as well as the involvement of the public.

“Inviting viewers to vote on the Internet, showing them that their choices have an impact on what they watch: this was all new in the early 2000s,” explains Mr. Barrette. It was a small revolution in the middle of the TV. The proof is, years later, that the concept of reality TV, which was doomed to disappear, according to many at the time, is now more present than ever. »

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