Although the name Ambiances Magnétiques is mostly known for (and perceived as) the Montreal experimental music record label, there is also a specific artists' collective which preceded it. This nucleus of musicians has built what is now known as the Montreal experimental music scene.
It all started in 1982 when guitarist René Lussier and saxophonist/flutist Jean Derome presented a few duo concerts in Montreal under the name Ambiances Magnétiques (which translates to "Magnetic Atmospheres"). They teamed up with guitarist André Duchesne and clarinetist Robert Marcel Lepage and launched the label Ambiances Magnétiques in 1983, an entity managed by the members of the collective to release their records, with occasional guests always having some sort of connection to the nucleus (up until the late '90s, when the label started to broaden its horizons). In 1986, the group was extended to include Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse, and Danielle P. Roger, three hard-working musicians performing together in various avant-pop girl groups (Wondeur Brass, Justine). Hétu would soon be left in charge of the label itself. Radio DJ and drummer Michel F. Côté was enlisted in 1988, and finally turntablist/record manipulator Martin Tétreault (discovered accidentally as he was overheard by his unsuspecting neighbor, André Duchesne, in the late '80s) officially joined in the mid-'90s.
The collective only performed a couple of times as a group, an event documented on the 1992 CD Une Théorie des Ensembles. They work more as a pool of musicians and a cooperative, and succeeded in creating their own underground network to support an experimental scene. This includes the record label, but also Distributions Ambiances Magnétiques Etc. (DAME), a distribution outlet, and production companies such as Productions SuperMémé, which orchestrates concert series and events in Montreal. By late 2000, the label had 90 titles under its belt and all Ambiances Magnétiques members had become keystones in the development of demanding music in Canada.