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.
Named for the Toronto area they grew up in, The Beaches are a far cry from a placid day on the lake. Led by singer/bassist Jordan Miller—with her sister and guitarist Kylie Miller, guitarist/keyboardist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel—the Canadian four-piece burst out of Toronto with their 2018 debut, Late Show, and have since built up an aura of dissident swagger. Taking home this year’s Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the all-fem rock quartet is bringing grunge, gloss, and 70s glamour to a predominantly male genre. Georgie caught up with Leandra to talk about the band’s latest music video, taking charge of their music, and three simple ways to keep women in the industry. G—Did you grow up together in Toronto? LE—Yeah, I met the girls in high school. Jordan and Kylie are sisters, so they’ve known each other a bit longer, but they grew up with Eliza in Toronto’s Beaches area. G—What kind of music were you listening to at that time? LE—We grew up listening to all of the music our parents listened to. That definitely influenced us while writing our debut album since we drew from a lot of the 70’s music that our
Tyler Shaw is going through a renaissance. After exploding onto the scene and the charts in 2012 with his hit single “Kiss Goodnight” and a wildly successful debut album that followed, it’s hard to imagine what the Canadian pop singer could possibly need to reinvent. But after two years of writing and exploring, Shaw has taken the reigns on developing a new album and a new sound that’s better in tune with his growth as an artist. Just before the release of his new single “With You”, Georgie caught up with Shaw over the phone to talk about his upcoming album, mental health, and the feelings he’s harnessed into a musical renewal. G— What were some of the biggest differences for you between making the upcoming album and making Yesterday? TS—Yesterday was more so “I’m a new artist, I don’t really know what I want to do. This sounds cool on my voice, so does this.” With this album on the other hand, I know what I want. I know what melodies I want to go to and what I want to talk about. [Yesterday] came out in 2015, and ever since then, I mean, you go through life experiences
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