In most music careers, it’s hard to pinpoint one specific event that became a turning point: The one thing that allowed a music creator to find major allies both in the public and the industry. For SOCAN member Cédrik St-Onge, however, it’s easy: the 2016 Festival de Petite-Vallée. St-Onge was one of eight songwriters in the contest portion of that musical event, and he shone brightly onstage during the seaside festival, during an unusually chilly early July that felt more like a brisk day in early May.

He was a revelation, even though this young musician was playing for an audience that wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with his name and face. St-Onge hails from Caplan, another village on the other side of the Gaspésie peninsula. If you know that region, you’re probably thinking, “but that village is three hours by road from Petite-Vallée,” and you’d be correct; nonetheless, the lad was treading familiar ground, and that allowed him to stand out. And to solidify certain relationships, notably with Moran, who, a few weeks later, piloted the artistic direction of St-Onge’s first EP, Les yeux comme deux boussoles, launched in January 2017 on the Ad Litteram imprint.

This first offering is disarmingly simple, and contains enough songs to make anyone a believer. “I’ve always followed my instinct when it comes to music,” says St-Onge. “I don’t know much about the theory of music, so I trust my feelings. Writing a song always begins with a chord progression that I like, then comes the melody, and later, the lyrics. Most of the time, I don’t really know where I’m headed, so a few steps back allow me to better understand the song’s subject, or who I’m writing the song for.”

Rumours are floating around that none other than ex-Karkwa Louis-Jean Cormier has turned down lucrative production gigs to be able to man the decks for St-Onge. “Louis-Jean is someone who is very understanding and he knows what he likes,” says the young songwriter. “I think we share the same vision of music. In the studio, we had no problem at all with our vision of the project. We knew exactly where we wanted to go. I must say, the first Francophone band that attracted my attention was Karkwa, when I was still in daycare. We could say that it means the universe to me that Louis-Jean likes what I do, and wishes to contribute to my project.”

But even before St. Onge had played Petite-Vallée, Guillaume Lombart’s team at Éditions Ad Litteram – which has since morphed into a record label (Mathieu Bérubé, Simon Kingsbury) – had already taken the young artist under their wing. “By having such a team, that’s there to help and cares about the project, I’m able to think bigger and go further. I think it’s the catalyst that made me realize that if there are people who are willing to help, it means I must be on the right track. Because while these guys are a team, they’re also my second family, with whom I can be open and keep close ties,” says the artist, now slowly but surely working on his first full-length album.