A year ago, Salomé Leclerc came out with a third album that, albeit with some degree of difficulty, would change her path forever. To let out those Choses Extérieures, the singer had to undergo exhaustive introspection – which led to an exercise in stepping out of her comfort zone, to test her limits and take a leap of faith. A year later, she’s glad to see the amount of ground she covered, and has no regrets about the decisions that led to the album.

“There’s no doubt that a third album is an important milestone, but I do feel I’ve really found myself with this record, she says. “By producing the album myself, I chose the harder path, one filled with highs and lows. But in the end, it gave me a tremendous amount of confidence in myself.”

Now, a year later, she’s ready to go to the ADISQ Awards Gala, where she’s nominated in many of the most prestigious categories – including Songwriter of the Year. Her nomination as Producer of the Year offers an unexpected but welcome validation. The road to get there was a long one: after asking singer Émilie Loizeau to produce her first album, and her friend Philippe Brault the second one, she wanted to stand on her own two feet. Brault was still around to provide her with advice in the early stages, but Leclerc fully embraced her project, and even played all the instruments for it.

“I now know I can make albums on my own, but it doesn’t mean I’ll always produce them,” she says. “The pressure is immense when every aspect of your project depends on you; there’s no one around to finish a song for you! That being said, I mostly feel like offering my services to others, in order to better step out of my comfort zone. I talk about that more and more, sending it out in the universe,” she explains.

One of the more judicious choices the young producer made was to let the singer take centre stage. Critics were unanimous when the album came out: they’d never heard her spellbinding tone of voice, with such clarity and power. Her lyrics, filled with melancholy, and even pain, were previously hidden behind a veil; whereas now, they’re out in broad daylight.

“I think that I wanted to present myself as a musician on my previous albums, a musician who can jam in the studio and onstage, which meant the singer came second,” Leclerc admits. “This time around, I wanted to protect the singer and her words, which led me to streamline, to trim the songs, the number of musicians, the arrangements… The confidence I mentioned earlier is what people heard in my voice.”

“I don’t want to make records the way I have up until now – I want to explore.”

Emboldened by these new experiences, she’s filled with new desires – the first being that she doesn’t want to wait another three years – her usual pace until now – before getting back in the studio. “I don’t know what shape it’s going to take: release an EP, work with someone as a duo, work on a project with a specific set of constraints. But one thing’s for sure: I don’t want to make records the way I have up until now – I want to explore.”

Might we one day see her lead a new project? Will she go back to being a session musician, as she was for Vincent Vallières, with whom she toured as a back vocalist and guitarist? Nothing is off limits, as long as happiness is part of the equation.

“During the harder moments, I asked myself what had attracted me to music in the first place,” she says. “I wanted to go back to the source, and I re-discovered the simple pleasure of playing: playing music too loud in my headphones, and just banging on my drums, playing guitar just for fun, without the goal of writing a song. It re-connected me, and made me realize that I want to be guided by simplicity and pleasure.”