Winter Diaries | Tamy Emma Pepin

In conversation with Elise Legault

Over the past year, Tamy Emma Pepin and Un Peu Plus Loin, the studio she founded in 2016, have been partnering with Quartz Co. on developing Quartz’s Winter Diaries. Gaining access to the inner workings of creators' lives, the series offers an intimate perspective on how our frigid environment contributes to the artistic process. Whether relaxing with Dave MacMillan, entering High Klassified’s basement bunker or skipping town with Ludivine Reding, Winter Diaries pays homage to our singular and unavoidable nordic climate.

Having recently wrapped its second season, we joined Tamy for a cup of tea to ask her a few questions about winter, creativity and the collaboration with Quartz Co. As the spirited entrepreneur is not one to remain surface-level, the conversation quickly turned to purpose and philosophy. In fact, the producer, director and storyteller speaks with candeur and bright-eyed fascination of the world that surrounds her.

Hey Tamy, how is your winter going so far?

Well! This winter has been all about wellness and clarity. It’s the first full year I spend in Montreal and I don’t feel antsy to leave. I’m still enjoying myself and I think that comes from the fact that I’ve been actively learning and collaborating with other people. It’s been a ‘reset button’ opportunity... I used to have a negative self talk about winter, but I’ve come to understand that it’s a season during which the planet regenerates, stocks energy and prepares for spring.

That’s interesting, what exactly prompted you to reexamine your relationship to winter?

I started meditating as a way to deal with the different stressors of life. I wanted to be able to cope with this new world in a healthy way. I also felt like my mind was going way too fast! So, I started observing my thoughts, in the same way that you’d observe clouds. My goal wasn’t to stop thinking, but to be able to look at my thoughts and acknowledge what they were made of. From that, I decided to consciously direct my self talk towards something that was rooted in positivity and confidence.

In light of that, tell us about the concept behind Winter Diaries and how it reflects your approach to content?

Winter Diaries is a series rooted in human experience. It came from the fact that, before being an entrepreneur, I’m a creative myself. Whether it applies to a musician, a visual storyteller, a chef or a designer, I understand and, most of all, I respect the creative and artistic process that’s behind them. I’m interested in stories that speak to that process rather than the end goal, the scale or the success… It isn’t just about the fact that High Klassified sold beats to the Weeknd. I’m happy for everyone’s wins, but what I’m really interested in is how he got there. How did Kevin discover beat making? Where does he work? What thoughts and ideas occupy his mind and his heart? These are the stories I want to tell.

You’ve now produced and released two full seasons of the series, 8 episodes, in which viewers access the intimate corners of creative minds, how did these encounters feed your perspective on winter?

First of all, they got me out of the house! (laughs) That said, I think it all comes down to friendship, really. The way that we shoot and how these collaborations come to be, it’s all rooted in friendship. There’s an exchange, a relationship, learning. We are all so isolated, whether it’s by the season or by technology, and being able to have these spaces where we can engage in conversation is important. It reminded me that I love dialogue.

Why is it important for a brand like Quartz Co. to create this type of content?

With Un Peu Plus Loin, I’m always seeking opportunities to connect businesses and creatives in meaningful ways. That’s what happened with Quartz Co. This company was bought a few years ago by the Robert brothers and they are truly flipping it around. As an entrepreneur, I can relate to their ambition, their vision and their hustle. Collaborating with people who work hard and trust my ideas is a privilege that I never take for granted. Quartz’s coats are made in Quebec and distributed internationally. I value exporting Quebecois intelligence, creativity and business. And I think it’s important for a brand to tell stories that are rooted in the realest thing they do. There is so much content and noise, people are starved for something that feels real. It goes back to this idea of creating content, yes, but creating purpose in the way that we work and the talent we work with.

If you were able to press pause on life and curate your perfect winter day, what would it be?

A perfect winter day begins with a fresh snowfall… it has to have a big blanket of fresh snow! I would wake up, do a short 15 minute meditation and set my intentions for the day. Once I know that my attention will be aligned with my intention, I make a tea. Then, I have breakfast, I shower, I put my long-johns and I go for a walk in my neighbourhood. I would go for a quick espresso at San Gennaro and say hi to the barista. Then, I would probably go to Marché Jean-Talon, even in the winter. I really just like to walk in my neighbourhood and be present.

Are you having fun?

I’m having the time of my life! My entire life is structured so that I have fun and I enjoy the process. I’m learning a lot. And it’s not just about learning, it’s about unlearning as well. At the beginning of winter, through my meditative practice, I unlearned a lot of my patterns. I’ve since chosen ones that are more efficient and rewarding. That’s probably the greatest outcome that has happened this winter. Oh! And I’ve also been dancing under Wynn Holmes’ leadership, through her organization, Lo-fi Dance Theory. It’s an amazing community and practice. I discovered a new discipline that really allows you to explore your creativity without judgement and I learned so much through that. It’s also where I met Julia who took these pictures on the rooftop of White Wall Studio.

What does the future look like for Tamy?

It’s a future that I see rooted in collaboration, in empathy and unity. This is the future that I believe swings millions of us back into the light. It’s a future where people can heal, and can live freely: be free to move, to experience, to have the right to express their opinion, to love whoever they want… I hope the future is free, yeah. I feel like this winter, I was able to do the work that helped me find what freedom means to me and how I achieve it. I hope that I can grow these values and start opening perspectives that can contribute to carving out a new way of living all together.