Rosie Valland

Photo by Philippe Sanfacon

Two EPs, an album, countless concerts, the semi-finals of Francouvertes 2015, opening for Ariane Moffatt, a few songs placed in the TV series Nouvelle adresse, a finalist spot in the Prix de la chanson SOCAN 2016: needless to say, Rosie Valland has just experienced two eventful years. Ever since releasing her first EP in April 2014, she’s been learning the business. “I’m learning to lead a project,” she says. “These are formative and creative times.”

Many discovered her with last year’s Partir avant, an album inspired by a breakup that was plainly difficult. But her latest, launched in the spring, takes the listener on a different trip: “Both albums came out in rapid succession, almost back to back, “ she says, “but one of them brewed for two years while the other one’s more spontaneous and reflects much more where I’m at now. Nord-Est is a beacon. It’s not necessarily happy, but it’s definitely more nostalgia than pain.”

Her work is reminiscent of the œuvres of Salomé Leclerc and Cat Power, but her slight pop tinge and soft voice are closer to that of Feist, especially on a song like “Nos guerres” (“Our Wars”). “Singing is my main instrument,” says Valland. “I let my voice take the lead and Feist is a great influence in that regard. Over the past year, I listened to Justin Bieber as much as I did Suuns. All influences converge in my music; I consciously try not to limit myself to a single direction.”

Valland, now 24, started singing in the choir of Saint-Césaire, a small village in the Montérégie region of Québec, about 45 minutes east of Montréal. There was a piano in her house, and she tamed the beast on her own. “I grew up with Star Académie and Mixmania [two popular singing contest TV shows in Québec in the 2000s],” she says. “In my mind, being a singer meant singing other people’s songs.” In her late teens, while living in Granby, the young artist became acquainted with the trade of songwriting when she saw many of her peers signing up to the École nationale de la chanson. “I started writing the second it dawned on me that I could write my own songs,” she says. “The next year, I too signed up to the École, and from that point on, everything went super fast.”

“Women still instinctively seek the approval of others on their musical ideas.”

During those formative years, Valland left the piano behind in favour of the six-string. “I judge myself very harshly when I play the piano, it’s less intuitive,” she says. “The guitar came into my life naturally in 2012, and the transition from one instrument to the other was very smooth. When I play guitar, I’m mostly following my instinct.”

Her apprenticeship on the instrument kicked into high gear when she met a talented and inspiring musician named Jesse Mac Cormack. They met at the Festival international de la chanson de Granby, and Jesse immediately became one of Rosie’s main musical partners in crime. “That was a crucial meeting for my career,” says Valland. “Jesse is very demanding and will only accept the best I can give. Working with him is the best, most intene school there is.”

Valland is increasingly assuming her role as the leader of a solo project. “Whether I’m in a duo, a trio or on my own, I’m learning to assume that the project will bear my name,” she says, “and that, no matter who I play with, its value doesn’t decrease. I don’t depend on anyone but myself, and I’ve discovered that this freedom is a strength.”


A few weeks ago, the young artist was nominated as one of the finalists in the Prix de la chanson SOCAN thanks to her song “Olympe,” a subtle homage to literary woman and feminist pioneer Olympe de Gouges, who was guillotined in Paris in 1793. “People often compliment me for my singing and then turn to Jesse to congratulate him on the music,” she says. “But they’re my songs! Women still instinctively seek the approval of others on their musical ideas; I think that’s partly why there are so few female producers. We have to boldly forge on, make a place for ourselves, become the woman who inspires us, and who we want to be. There are details left to fine-tune, but we’re on the right path.”