If you start your career by doing shots of liquor on someone else’s tab, there’ll be several steps to complete before you achieve wisdom. And yet, what could easily be construed as serenity lies at the core of Mélanie and Stéphanie Boulay’s musical project. Liberated, satuisfied, they “let life do its thing,” and now look back on the last decade that determined who they’ve become. Ten years, in which they wouldn’t change a thing.

May 2012
Les soeurs Boulay Les sœurs Boulay win the final round of Les Francouvertes, where they were competing with Francis Faubert and Gazoline. “There are very few of our opponents in that final with whom my sister hasn’t gone out,” says Mélanie, bursting with laughter, while her sister laughs just as hard. “I remember we stayed in the first position from the preliminary round to the final,” says Stéphanie. “Each and every step, we just couldn’t believe it. We could definitely feel it – not that we were going to win, but that something was brewing.”

Even back then, they followed their instinct and ignored all the “advice” people were giving them, moist notably what kind of performance to give for the finals. “We’d decided to do something very stripped down, with just one condenser microphone and everyone thought it would be a catastrophe,” Mélanie remembers. But that night, you could hear a pin drop in Club Soda. They won.

March 2013
On March 26, 2013, the duo released their debut album, Le poids des confettis. “It was a super-playful album, because we didn’t even know how to write songs. We were constantly wondering if we could actually use the chords we were using in that sequence,” remembers Mélanie. At Studio Wild, in Saint-Zénon, Québec, the sisters “created while completely drunk out of our minds.” “We’d drink Grand Marnier in the morning,” Stéphanie admits with a giggle.

It was Stéphanie who wrote the lyrics and music of “Mappemonde,” still Les sœurs Boulay’s most popular song, to this day. “I remember how much Mélanie hated it,” she says, laughing. “She wouldn’t shut up about how corny it was, while I was still writing it.”

June 2014
Infidelity is the subject of the single “Ça,” which was never released on an album. “We’d recorded it for the album, but it was rejected, and I really felt mournful about it,” Stéphanie confesses. The song still had its moment.

October 2015
Les soeurs BoulayThen their make-it-or-break-it sophomore album came out. 4488 de l’Amour saw the light of day in the fall of 2015. Throughout the album, Mélanie and Stéphanie explore individual, real-life experiences. The fact that each song seems like a solo was perhaps so that they could better be re-united. “We felt an urge to claim our own space,” Mélanie says. “We lived together and hung out with the same people. Anytime I’d get somewhere, the first question people asked me was, ‘Where’s your sister?’ That’s why we had to travel alone for a while.”

 Less candid and already much more down to earth about the world in which they lived, they wrote more involved songs, and more songs about life’s many disappointments, big and small. “It reeks of coming out of a post-first-tour burnout,” Stéphanie giggles. “But it’s still our change-of-paradigm album. We’d appeared on La Voix and we’d also had a scary experience where people were a little too intent on talking to us after an outdoor show, where there was no backstage area. That’s when we decided to keep our respective private lives far away from the cameras.”

August 2016
Les sœurs Boulay release a very “the way we want it” cover of Céline Dion’s “Pour que tu m’aimes encore.” “It’s the first cover we did where we truly understood our aesthetic,” Mélanie reminisces. “That’s what we did with Marjo’s ‘Les chats sauvages.’ We understood we could take a very personal song and apply our sound to it. It was really satisfying to realize that.”

As a matter of fact, her love of music was triggered by “My Heart Will Go On,” from the movie Titanic. “It stirred something deep inside of me, even though I was super-young,” she continues. In September of that year, they released their E.P. Lendemains, where said aesthetic was even more apparent, even though it contains only four short songs. These were 11 minutes of unfiltered gentleness.

April 2017
The duo covers Richard Desjardins’ “L’engeôlière” on a tribute album to the artist. “I couldn’t talk to him,” Stéphanie says, remembering the live show that followed the album release. “I couldn’t say a word, because I was scared that this monumental figure of music, that I admire so much, would think I’m stupid,” she says, laughing. “We took a deep breath and sang next to him. It was a major moment for us.”

September 2017
Les soeurs BoulayAs part of the Journées de la culture, the sisters composed “De la terre jusqu’au courant,” one of their first “remote” creations. “I started by writing unstructured lyrics, and Mélanie worked on the music separately,” says Stéphanie. “That’s when we started working through voice memos,” adds Mélanie. “We’re very attached to the Petite-Vallée choir from Gaspésie. Those kids sang their part and recorded it with very basic equipment in their school gymnasium.” Then, in the expert hands of Alex McMahon, all these tidbits combined to become something magical.

March 2018
That’s when the duo enjoyed their first screen music commission. “I was super-hopeful it would be the first of a long and fruitful series of commissions,” says Stéphanie, visibly delighted about her collaboration with the team for the TV series Trop. The song “Le temps des récoltes” plays over a key moment in one of the episodes, where we start to understand the relationship between two sisters. “We had a few pointers on the scene where the song would be used. We watched the show and really liked it. It’s about the love between two sisters as much as it is about mental health,” says Stéphanie. “We hadn’t seen the finished scene, and the first time we actually listened to the song after it was recorded was in Alex McMahon’s studio. He cued up the images to the song. We all cried. It was like magic to see our ideas meld perfectly with the story that was being told.”

September 2019
Les sœurs Boulay release their third album, La mort des étoiles. It would be their last release for Dare To Care – now known as Bravo Musique – before they left the label during controversy-laden times. Mélanie talks about this album as one of disillusionment: “The social climate, the environment, the #metoo movement… I was trying to make sense of it all for my children, but it felt like everything was dragging us into an immense sorrow. But then again, we always were big on melancholy,” she says. “For the longest time, my e-mail address was lesjourstristes3@hotmail.com (thesaddays3).” For Stéphanie, La mort des étoiles was a pandemic album before the pandemic started. “It’s like we intuited a major upheaval,” she adds. “Sometimes, when you write, you feel like it’s going to take its full meaning later on. That’s exactly what happened with this one.”

October 2022
Échapper à la nuit, Les sœurs Boulay’s fourth album, was released by Simone Records. In a bona fide renaissance after letting bygones be bygones, Les sœurs Boulay came back with a renewed interest in music, as well as a new team. “I remember that when we started making music, we constantly felt like everything was a question of life or death,” says Mélanie. “But Antoine Gratton, one of our mentors back then, always said ‘It’s just music, it’s not rocket surgery,’ and that’s the biggest lesson he taught us.” Stephanie is convinced that she still has things to learn from the person she was 10 years ago, and she’s also convinced, as a realist, that they’ll never experience the huge wave of success that carried them forward early in their career.

In a strong yet tempered stance, both women take an empathetic look at their journey and would change absolutely nothing. If Le poids des confettis still moves them today, in 2023, it’s because it’s filled to the brim with a “youthful” truth, and a desire to break everything in the hope of making the world a better place. “I believe that what we need to do the most, 10 years later, is to remember the urge to create that we felt when we started,” says Stéphanie. “We don’t want to forget to keep getting mad at things,” her sister adds. “And to live a fearless life.”