Standing out in such a talent-rich musical landscape as that of Québec isn’t an easy task, but it’s always easier when one has a clear vision of where one wants to go, and what one wants to accomplish. Singer-songwriter Sophie Pelletier is from that breed of artists whose path in music has been traced since her childhood.
The whole province got acquainted with her in 2012 when she was a finalist on the popular talent show Star Académie, which afforded her the opportunity to sing with Lionel Richie, Johnny Hallyday and Mika. But her art was really informed by years and years of watching her family onstage, and exploring her big brother’s album collection. The young Rivière-Ouelle native had already accumulated two decades of experience since she first attempted writing lyrics and playing on her dad’s guitar.
Pelletier knows what she wants, how she wants to hear it, and how it’s supposed to sound. In her mind, everything is crystal-clear. Following the head rush of Star Académie, which left her confident and strong, she took her time to cherry-pick the collaborators who would understand her. She found just the right ear in André Papanicolaou, Vincent Vallières’ guitar player. She appreciates the praise of the man she chose to produce her first album. “He’s the one that made me believe that my songs are good, and that I should keep going in that direction,” says Pelletier. “He was the catalyst of my creative process.” Le désert, la tempête was launched in 2015, and spawned two pristine folk-pop radio hit singles, “Sans remords” and “Accroche-toi.”
Two years later, Pelletier tapped Gaële to help fine-tune the lyrics of her second offering, Les météores, released on April 24, 2017. “She was amazing!” says Pelletier. “She taught me two essential things: how to have fun writing and how to structure my creative process.” As the organized woman that she is, Pelletier adopted a work ethic that helps her drive a song idea to completion. Lines that come to her during the day are further explored during the evening (“with a couple of glasses of wine,” she admits, laughing). The next day, she’ll re-visit the structure, fine-tune the rhymes, and dig through her lexicon to take the song to its logical conclusion.
Yet one needs to have their mind on writing in order to create new songs. The self-described “intermittent creator” needs a calm environment. She can only get into the right frame of mind for writing when the hubbub of touring and promotion slows down.
For her second album, she surrounded herself with an all-star cast of collaborators: Dumas (who wrote a song for her), Fred St-Gelais, Marc Dupré and Samuel Joly, as well as Gautier Marinof on production duties. The latter has recently worked with Jérôme Couture, Renée Wilkin, and Étienne Drapeau, as well as co-producing one of Dupré’s albums.
But Pelletier is the one firmly holding the reins of her destiny. “People have encouraged me to keep control of my career, to manage my copyrights, keep ownership of my masters and self-publish my songs,” she says. “That’s why I created my own company, Uniforce Production, alongside Geneviève Morin, my manager and my associate, to whom I delegate the administrative and marketing aspects of my career.”
A long time ago, she realized her songs are good. Not good as in “a good song,” but good as in “they do good for people,” including herself. Music can heal. Music is precisely what allowed her to see clearly during less rosy periods in her life. Now, she imparts her know-how through Projet Victoire Musique. “I created workshops where everyone is welcome, where people learn how to use music as a moral support, for the good it does them,” says Pelletier. “Children are especially fond of this approach.” Her experience and studies in specialized education are still useful in this regard.
Helping others is a recurring theme among her mid- and long-term goals: “I’d love to write and compose for other artists, becoming a mentor for younger artists, while carrying one with my own evolving career,” she says. This curious and ambitious artist would love to explore Europe, and France in particular, but also wishes to explore writing in English so she can play with her voice, her music and dig deeper in that direction.
She certainly has everything it takes to succeed.