Québécois singer-songwriter Gabrielle Shonk locates a raw vulnerability within an indie-folk sound on her debut self-titled LP released this past September. Tracing through her own experiences with a voice that pierces and taunts in equal measure, the 29-year-old has earned comparisons to the likes of Alicia Keys, Fiona Apple and Adele.
To kick off the new year, Georgie caught up with Gabrielle by phone at her home in Quebec City.
G—Could you tell us a little about your background?
Gabrielle Shonk—I am French Canadian. Actually, I was born in the States in Providence, Rhode Island, and we moved to [a suburb of Quebec City] when I was five or six. My dad is American and my mom is from Quebec City.
G—Is French your first language?
GS—Yes. I went to school in French and everything; my whole upbringing was in French in Quebec.
G—Your English is absolutely perfect.
GS—I would say English has always come more naturally to me; I love both though, but my main musical expression language is English.
G—Who would you say are your greatest musical influences?
GS—I like a lot of old stuff, from the folk scene: Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. I listened to a lot of soul music growing up, too: Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Otis Redding. I have the vinyl of “Let’s Stay Together”, and listen to it maybe once a week and I never get tired of it.
G—Which aspect of the musical process do you enjoy more, songwriting or performing?
GS—I think it depends on the moment in my life. At the moment I’m feeling very creative, so I’m very much into writing music; but I do love performing live. I like being out there, meeting people and sharing the music. I’m going back into songwriting right now but I’m still playing shows, a bunch of shows.
G—What came first, was it writing songs or the desire to put yourself out there and share the music?
GS—I have always loved singing, but creating music came very young for me. When I was ten I would make up pop songs in my head and write the lyrics down; I was always creative in that sense. When I started playing guitar, I started by covering songs, but very quickly after I started writing my own songs, inspired from the chords I had learned. Writing was kind of omnipresent throughout my whole career. I have only been pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter in the last couple of years with the making of this record, but it has always been present.
G—How does it feel to have your debut self-titled album released?
GS—I feel as if I was waiting for this for such a long time, so it got to the point that when it finally made it out, I was ready for it. But I had to work through that in the process. I am a bit of a perfectionist – finishing and saying “this is done” was hard. In a few years I will probably look back and want to redo the whole record differently. But I see that in a positive way, because I want to evolve as an artist and move forward. It’s something I am proud of. It’s also great to watch the record get a second life though the eyes of the fans. They take such different meaning from it which makes me look at my own music differently. I love having the songs out there living their own lives.
G—Your hit single, “Habit”, was about a breakup. How do you feel about that relationship now and do you still talk?
GS—I wrote that song a long time ago. It was when my first relationship ended, which was a long one I guess. I don’t talk to him anymore.
G—Do you think he has heard the single and knows it’s about him?
GS—I have no idea. I don’t know if he knows it’s about him or if he’s heard it.
All my close friends know it’s about him. It was a case of two people who changed, broke up, and never bumped into each other again. It was a while ago, and I’m completely healed from that experience now. It’s interesting to see where life experiences can bring you, so much good has come from that song. It feels like a win for me I guess.
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and