Amélie Larocque steps onto the diving board, calculates her trajectory and dives, head-first, precisely where she had aimed: at the heart of a type of pop music that entices people to move. She’s only released one album prior to Sa couleur, yet AMÉ has sown her colourful seeds all over the place in the past few years. Meet a woman who personifies herself through music.
“’Sa couleur’ is about my identity,” says AMÉ. “It’s not a protest song, it’s just me, who I am as a human being, and what I choose to reveal or not,” she says, adding that we all do things to please, fine-tuning ourselves to be appreciated.
Where her 2010 eponymous album stayed on the sonic road of folk, this one goes completely off the beaten path. “I figured if I was going to go the electro-pop route, I had to be fully committed,” says AMÉ. “I felt like I was totally alone. I’m not the type to wear makeup, but for this, I went all-out, with nail polish and paillettes.” It’s only when she committed entirely to her decision hat the stars aligned: her songs became catchy and dance-oriented.
And the opportunities have come one after the other over the past few years for the young singer-songwriter, who also devoted time to her life as a mother. “It took all that time to get to where I really wanted to be,” says AMÉ. By working for others, she afforded herself a different type of artistic evolution. “I often tell artists for whom I write songs that the importance of what we love is much less than that of what we want to do,” she says. “I love a lot of things in life. I listen to pop, blues, jazz, but those aren’t necessarily the artistic endeavours that I want to pursue.” And that’s precisely what happened when she let herself be transported by her desire to make pop music. “Some might’ve wondered where I was headed,” she says, “but I wanted laser effects and day-glo lighting. I said ‘fuck off’ to folk music; that’s not what I want to do.”
However inspired by the likes of Milk & Bone, Laurence Nerbonne, and Charlotte Cardin, she considers her roots to be in good ol’ “rap québ” (Québécois rap). “I’m trying to bring the energy and rhythm of rap to the pop world,” she says. “Stromae is a great example of this movement. He was such a revelation when it comes to amalgamating a dance song and a message song.” She uses this strategy with all manners of subjects: Love, courage, surpassing yourself, doubt.
When Justin Timberlake recently played in Montréal, AMÉ was there, notebook in hand. Accompanied on stage by a dancer, she tries to take her audience with her, inside her bubble. “It’s very demanding,” she says. “There aren’t many breaks, and I don’t tell the story of my grandmother in between two songs.”
When AMÉ steps out of her own bubble, she likes to move into those of other people. “I’m always at the service of a theme, of a piece of music,” she says. “Like with Marc Dupré [for whom she wrote Ton départ]; what he wants is super-specific. He sends me music tracks where he sings without words. It sounds like it’s in English, but it’s in nothing at all. We call it yogurt! Even though he doesn’t sing actual words, it rhymes, and sometimes, when I write, I’ll find words that rhyme with the gibberish he’s singing. It’s quite funny, and I find those limits quite stimulating.”
This way of working has led her to write music before she stops to find words to put on top of it. “I’ve used the people I’ve written for, in a way!”
In other words, she’s the only one paving the way for herself. AMÉ is clear about her ambitions. “I’m not afraid,” she says. “All I have are ideas. I want to take my music to France. That’s definitely a dream. I feel like I’ve embarked on something big.”