Nano Talrose has always used music as a tool to express his deepest feelings. While talking over Zoom from a recording studio in London, Ontario, he pauses for a second to figure out how to properly articulate the therapeutic value he finds songwriting: “Music helps me to express myself,” he says with a smile, “in a way I can’t while talking to a friend.”

In the past, most of his meditations have turned into soft, thoughtful pop ballads, but working on his debut EP, about a turbulent past relationship, he’s found himself taking new creative risks to express complex feelings. The result is a foray into a slightly edgier, more rock-oriented sound.

Talrose has always been interested in the rockier side of pop, and his favorite artists include Olivia Rodrigo and M83 – even though his early releases were gentle love songs. While working a job in the banking industry, he wrote music in his spare time to deal with emotional moments in his life. His first single, “Stay Quiet,” released in 2019, was a minimalist ballad that paired his lovestruck vocals with a finger-picked acoustic guitar. The sounds may have changed somewhat now, but his emotive, personal lyrics, and expressive vocals have remained the same.

The last few years have been a period of transition for the singer-songwriter. He left his job and used three years of savings to pursue his pop-star dreams full-time. Moving from Niagara to London, Ontario, he had to connect with a whole new community of musicians. Eventually, he met a drummer, bassist, and electric guitarist, building new creative partnerships that led to him taking new risks with his music. Now, Talrose meets with guitarist Hayden Dyson once a week to record demos and flesh out song ideas. “It’s great working with him, because he’s helping me experiment with more rock elements,” says Talrose. “‘He shreds. He’s a great guitar player.”

It seems to be working. Early in 2022, Talrose was briefly interviewed nationally by CTV’s eTalk, which called him “an up-and-coming star you’re going to want to keep your eye on this year.” To that end, Talrose and Dyson have been working together on the upcoming EP, which will tell the story of a fluctuating relationship he was in from 2017 to 2021, and the rollercoaster of emotion he experienced. Talrose plans for the EP to follow the narrative arc of an love story, going from the honeymoon period to the heartbreaking end. Working with new sounds has helped him express himself: “I have more options now with what genres I want to throw in,” says Talrose.

He released several singles last year, co-written with producer Damian Birdsey. Talrose penned “Strangers”  back in 2020, about a sorrow he experienced; but a year later, he re-tooled and released it as a more danceable song. In October of 2021, he released his latest single, “Falling Deeper,” about going head-first into new love. His voice works well with the new instrumentation, as syncopated drumming and prominent guitar strums elevate the song to a greater intensity.

Talrose has grown a great deal in a short time, finding his voice – and in working on his EP, the singer-songwriter has also located his inner rockstar. “It’s super-satisfying to be able to let this side out of me,” he says.

Claudia Bouvette Who would refuse being admitted to Paradise Club? After all, it’s a space of freedom, empowerment, and free speech. Over the course of the last few years, we’ve gotten acquainted with Claudia Bouvette as a musician, singer, and actress. She’s even detoured into reality TV, but the version of herself that always re-surfaces, stronger than the others, is the music-making one. The young woman’s true love takes centre stage with the release of her first full-length album The Paradise Club.

Beyond being an album of orary heartbreak, Claudia Bouvette’s first full-length is also a major statement. “It’s such a personal project,” she says, to open. “I want to share with the world this state of relief that came with my songs and my album.” Through each story and verse, what stands out most, for her, is that “it’s really going to be okay, no matter what shitty situation you find yourself in.” Musically, she took great care to emphasize the rhythm: “The themes and topics are on the sad side, but the music is upbeat. I’ll never be able to hide from my recurring theme: decrying the behaviour of the ‘uglies.’ Yet, I try to do it with a somewhat positive vibe,” she says, giggling.

Aware of the constant pressure on women, and the performance they’re expected to deliver, she remains a proponent of genuinely letting go, and taking a moment to choose what’s best for us. “We’re told we’re supposed to be able to do everything at once, as women and as musicians,” she says. “What ends up happening is, we get confused, and don’t know where to start. It gets depressing, because there’s a good chance you can’t manage having the weight of the whole world on your shoulders.”

Not one to hide her ambition, she knows what she’s worth, and her lyrics reflect a desire to point toward the less-than-perfect road that nonetheless leads to self-accomplishment. “You can’t go very far when you don’t know where to start,” she says. “It’s happened to me. I wasn’t doing well at all, but it’s amazing how time will fix everything, and how taking a break allows you to move faster afterwards.”

For her, songwriting begins with synth chords and a few onomatopoeiac phrases, which allow the phonetics to dominate. “What’s crazy is that words and phrases create themselves this way, thanks to words that don’t really exist,” Bouvette explains. “I build around that. I always write the lyrics las,t and I fine-tune the phrasing with Connor, since he’s Anglophone.”

He whose name is on everyone’s lips lately, Connor Seidel, co-wrote and co-produced The Paradise Club with Bouvette. Chosen by many artists to assist in the production of their work, Seidel knows how to deploy his talent where it’s needed, allowing the full grandeur of the artist’s skill to unfold before him. Bouvette is thus captain of her Club, in full control of her words and sound. “I’ve known Connor for many years,” she says. “We did my first EP together. He gave me the space I needed to express myself, and believe in myself. I’m very instinctive, but that implies a certain level of insecurity. His humility opens creative doors for me.”

Once the songs were written, the work was long and meticulous, both in the studio and at home. ‘I did a lot of work alone in my bedroom,” says Bouvette. “Then we created universes together. There’s something very organic in our approach. I can be very picky, but very easygoing, too. I like being surprised by sounds I’d never think of pursuing. The end result is totally uninhibited.”

While happily mixing French and English, she still feels stronger in the latter, although what drives her even more is the range of possibilities when you can play with both. “The sounds roll around in my mouth easier in English, but I think it’s really enriching to be able to have both co-exist,” she says.

Bouvette is increasingly able to recognize the tools that push her creativity further: listening to music, analyzing texts, reading books, or poetry. “I also put my phone down!” she exclaims. “The second I spend too much time on my phone, I lose all my creativity. In the end, though, it’s really my suffering that motivates me. Even when I feel fine, I’m inclined to go reach for darker feelings that I experience in everyday life. Maybe I write songs to liberate myself from something.”

Maryze“I’ve always loved pop music, yet it’s a genre a lot of people don’t take seriously. Some say it’s not real music, that it’s like fast food… I believe a well-written pop song is something very powerful that can change your life, and that’s fascinating.”

You can hear the smile in Maryze’s voice when she talks about music. The Vancouver-born singer-songwriter is now based in Montréal, and closely studied pop music before releasing her debut album 8, a surprising mix of electro, HyperPop, R&B, hip-hop, rock, and emo – in other words, all the genres that have branded pop music over the past few decades.

Maryze is a huge Grimes and Lady Gaga fan, but she was raised to the sound of a rather unusual style of music: Celtic pop. One can even hear a few traces of it on her album, notably on  “Witness.” “My dad is from Breton and my mom is Irish-Canadian, so I’m Celtic on both sides! My first show was Loreena McKennitt, when my mom was pregnant with me. I’m sure I felt the sound waves and the bass,” jokes the 30-year-old singer.

As for her dad, a radio DJ in Vancouver, he introduced her to tons of music from all around the world when she was a kid. In her early teens, the young music lover took intensive music theory classes, and joined her high school jazz choir. Which is not to say her bond with pop was weakened. Like most of her friends at the time, Maryze grew up listening to Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake, two artists whose influence can be felt in an R&B-tinged piece like “Experiments.”

It wasn’t long before the pop-punk and emo waves got the best of her. The intensity of the lyrics, and the raw emotion of a band like Fall Out Boy, had something powerful and liberating for a troubled teenager like her. A song like “Emo” is an obvious tribute to that phase of her musical explorations.

“I felt alone and misunderstood. I couldn’t find my community at school,” says Maryze. “Sure, we had a great music program, and the choir was superb… but my school was mainly geared towards sports, and there I was, this skinny jeans-wearing emo girl. At home, there were difficult stories of depression… I was on the floor in my room, reading the lyrics of Fall Out Boy songs. I felt like the singer was talking to me, and that made me feel less alone. That’s probably what prompted me to want to reach an audience in their teens or early twenties through my songs. There’s a sense of community that is created through music.”

In other words, Maryze creates music that she herself would’ve loved to listen to in her teens. Hence the seemingly chaotic amalgamation of sounds that she offers, with the utmost sincerity and authenticity. Entirely written on her own, the album also benefitted from the expertise of some Montréal-based producers – notably her right-hand man and friend Solomon K-I, who was also in charge of mixing and mastering the album.

Armed with her university studies in creative writing, the adoptive Montréaler explores “the interconnected parts of our past that shape our lives, for better or for worse” in her lyrics. She weaves the heterogeneous songs of her album with a central image in mind: that of the infinite loop, symbolized by the title’s number 8. This infinite loop makes us repeat the same stories, the same mechanisms, and the same mistakes. The epitome of a cycle.

Carried by an ‘80s-inspired dance rhythm, “Too Late” is the perfect incarnation of the album’s central theme. Under the guise of a toxic love story, the song is actually a deep dive into the artist’s psyche. “That song is my relationship with me,” she says. “I’m my biggest hurdle in life. Every day I wake up and the day just flashes by in front of me. There are so many things I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin. The cycle repeats itself and I end up frustrated at myself. That frustration is mainly related to music, and my dreams. I sometimes get amazing opportunities, but it’s like I sabotage myself. And the pandemic just amplified all of that. I could literally do nothing… and I felt frustrated, bitter.”

“Squelettes” is a hard-hitting collaboration with Montréal rapper Backxwash that evokes a difficult episode she lived through in her twenties. “I started writing that one eight years ago,” says Maryze. “There was a lot of depression, anxiety, and addiction in my family. I was in a phase in my life where I repeated destructive cycles in my relationships, and with myself. I mistreated my body, mainly through excessive partying. And I ended up in situations that I had inflicted upon myself. Each time, I heard my father’s voice: ‘Maryze, why did you end up – again – in this situation that you don’t like? Why are you in this relationship that is toxic to you?’ That was one of my all-time lows.”

The album’s stripped-down opening and closing songs, “Mercy Key” and “Playing Dress-Up,”offer a glimpse of Maryze with her heart on her sleeve, accompanied only by a piano or her own voice. “I have to write on the spot when I live something that’s really intense,” she says. “I wrote hundreds of diaries when I was younger. It’s always been a form of therapy, a way to better understand me. It’s when I start writing, and ideas come to me, that I actually understand what I’m going through. It’s not something I would’ve understood by simply saying it out loud.”

Far from the silence and loneliness of her teenage years, Maryze has found a way to turn her frustration into something constructive. She’s found a way to break the cycle.