She’s created a new business and creative model, and paved the way for all those bloggers and influencers who dream of getting up onstage in the real world. Candid and uber-lucid, the musician takes stock before moving on to her second chapter.
Roxane Bruneau stands alone in her field. The blonde singer with distinctive black earlobe stretchers and eyeglass frames became the Big Brother of her own reality TV, thanks to YouTube videos, before adding music to her repertoire. Suddenly, her army of fans discovered a new aspect of her personality, but one that was as authentic and real as the rest of her. Only this time, her moods and chronicles of daily life can be listened to in your car with the windows down. Her voice can now accompany us off-screen. People live through her.
Seemingly coming out of nowhere for some, yet at the height of her celebrity in Québec for hundreds of thousands of others, the Monteregian surprised everyone last fall by winning the Song of the Year Félix Award for “Des p’tits bouts de toi,” a song that was released in 2017, along with the rest of her album, Dysphorie. The song is an incredibly catchy and sincere guitar-voice ditty that’s been streamed more than 1.5 million times on Spotify alone, and the video of which has earned more than 6 million plays on YouTube. Which goes to show how much she touches people.
Yet in the beginning, the singer-songwriter/YouTuber wasn’t convinced, herself. “I thought I’d sell a few dozen CDs to my subscribers on Facebook and YouTube, and then it would peter out,” she admits.
“In a nine-to-five job, you only have one boss. I have 100,000 bosses.”
But being recognized by the industry and the masses, in a way she didn’t even hope for, comes with its own set of apprehensions – namely, the fear of fading away as fast as she became famous. During our interview, Bruneau turns out to be brutally honest and straightforward. It’s no wonder, then, that she’s the same when she writes.
“That fear of losing my audience is going to be omni-present on my next album,” she says. “It really is a subject that hovers over the album. I’m aware that I’m somewhat of a slave for other people’s love. If people don’t like us, we cease existing in this trade. That’s it. Venues stop being sold out, you sell fewer and fewer albums… It’s crazy when you think about it. In a 9 to 5 job, you only have one boss. I have 100,000 bosses.”
Propelled by the song “J’pas stressée” (“I’m Not Stressed”), the artist was, ironically, too anxious to start writing again. “I was submerged by the pressure of writing hits, songs that get played on the radio,” she says. “That froze me completely, I couldn’t write at all. I had no idea what a good song was, before, I didn’t know what a radio hit is… I wrote for the sake of writing, and that’s what people loved. Once I realized that, I said to myself, ‘Ffuck radio hits,’ and I started writing again.”
Freed from her own expectations, the artist is about to manage, once again, all aspects of the artistic direction of her next album, due to be released in the Spring. “I don’t know how things work for others, but I think I’m the most spoiled rotten artist, because of the fact that my producers 100% trust me,” she says. “They don’t ask to hear what I’m working on, or to change this or that… They understand that the product people like is that girl, Roxane Bruneau. They don’t want to change my clothes, my face, what I have to say, my content, my container.”
Fully in charge and totally independent, Roxane Bruneau will probably never let anyone step on her toes. She directs and edits her videos, and she’s never hired a stylist. She makes all her own decisions. “I meet more and more artists who tell me about their gigs and their environment,” she says. “And I’m, like, ‘Oh! you mean you didn’t pick the shoes you’re wearing tonight? Is this a joke?’ It does go that far, y’know?”