Long before she imagined having a career as a musician, Tamara Lindeman was a self-described rabid music fan. “I wasn’t really connected to the music scene and I didn’t know musicians,” she explains. “I was just really into the local music scene in Toronto.” Her earliest forays into making her own music began with her concocting instrumental soundscapes in her bedroom in the mid-2000s. Hoping to share them on MySpace, Lindeman realized she needed a name, and settled on The Weather Station. “I said that these were the sound recordings of a woman who lived at a weather station in the Arctic,” she recalls with a laugh.

Though Lindeman’s music quickly evolved, the name stuck. The Weather Station – now a folk-rock driven, sometimes-solo project, sometimes touring band – has put Lindeman squarely on the map as a singer-songwriter to watch. Her fourth full-length album – self-titled and self-produced – was released in October to rave reviews, including those from Pitchfork, The FADER, Exclaim! and from the U.K’s Uncut Magazine, which has listed it in fourth place in their ranking of 2017’s top albums.

But Lindeman, whose third album, Loyalty, was long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize in 2015, still largely finds herself watching her success from the fringes of the music scene. “I have this problem where I feel like I will always feel like a total outsider,” she says of her success to date. “I can’t feel like any of this is natural, and I can’t take any of it for granted.”

While she sang in choirs and learned piano as a child, Lindeman – whose voice is frequently compared with Joni Mitchell’s – is still largely self-taught. She first ventured into writing songs when she realized she needed to have something more suitable than an atmospheric soundscape in her repertoire if she was going to begin sharing her music at open mic sessions. “From the beginning, I did have an instinct to sing,” she says, describing her learning curve as “swimming blind.”

“I’ll riff on an idea, or I’ll find myself singing about something and not know why, and then I’ll try to understand what’s going on.”

Lindeman, who has also worked as an actress, began developing a continuously evolving stream-of-consciousness approach to songwriting – which sees her developing a few strong riffs and melodies, then improvising lyrics afterwards to suit. “Basically, I sing and then see what I am saying,” she says of the process. It sees her recording everything as she goes, then sifting through it in search of stuff worth keeping. “I’ll riff on an idea, or I’ll find myself singing about something and not know why, and then I’ll try to understand what’s going on,” she says. She explains that it sometimes means singing very slowly, or leaving long gaps while she works out what to say next.

A self-described perfectionist, Lindeman admits the editing process can be a lengthy one, in which she transcribes her sung musings before settling on the words that seem to best capture what she’s trying to say. “The process of deciding is the craziest part,” she laughs.

The result is lyrics that often feel personal, with the occasional poetic non sequitur, particularly on her latest album, which Lindeman describes as “a lot more crazy than my other records.” “I think it’s my most forthright album,” she explains. “It’s definitely the most ballsy. My past albums are more subtle than this one.”

According to Lindeman, this is in part due to a desire to make a more assertive, rock-oriented album with stronger rhythms more suited to her current state of mind, as well as to this time in history. “It doesn’t always feel right to play subtle music – sometimes something else is called for,” she says, of songs that tackle subjects from politics, to climate change, to her parents’ divorce. “Based on where I was at emotionally, and where the world is at right now, it felt like playing beautiful, quiet music didn’t feel right to me,” she says. “I don’t have anything really beautiful to say about what’s happening right now”.

The other change with this album was Lindeman’s decision to take the lead on its production. While she describes her very first albums as “super self-produced,” her last two were made in close collaboration with other musicians, including Afie Jurvanen (a.k.a. Bahamas) and Daniel Romano, who, Lindeman explains, had experience and reference points that she didn’t necessarily have, and helped her to overcome her self-doubt.

By contrast, Lindeman says that when it came to producing The Weather Station, which features Ben Whiteley on bass and Don Kerr (The Rheostatics) on drums (both also make up the heart of her touring band), along with many others, she had a clear sense of how she wanted the album to sound. “I thought I could explain it, but realized quickly that nobody can tell what’s inside my head other than me,” she says. “So I had to learn how to take control and make decisions and be the guiding force of it.”

For Lindeman, it was an empowering experience, and one that continues to build her confidence as a musician. She admits she still has moments, oftentimes at her own shows, when she marvels not only that she’s performing for a full house, but that she’s found a career in music at all. “Music is so hard. It’s hard to succeed emotionally, or artistically, or at all, business-wise,” she says. “So to have all three happen is basically the best feeling in the world.”

Andréanne A. MaletteSome album are new beginnings, a new swing of things. Such is undeniably the case for Andréanne A. Malette, who left the Productions J record label after Bohèmes, her first album, which sold 15,000 copies. As if to illustrate this fully assumed autonomy, the cover of her sophomore effort only bears her name as a title, and a picture of her and a ghost double.

“I’m a girl who constantly asks questions, who wants to know how things work,” says Malette. “I didn’t leave angry. On the contrary, I left with the idea of doing things my way. Simple as that.”

After completing various training sessions on production, taxes, distribution and marketing, Malette decided to bet on complete control, and moving forward will act as her own producer, artistic director, administrator and publisher.

These new responsibilities allow her to express her new creative approach. After writing in English for many years, she admits having tried for a long time to find her own style of writing in French. “I’m inspired by music I like, folk that’s best sung in English, like Bears of Legend and First Aid Kit,” says Malette. “So obviously, when I sang in French, there was something ‘off.’ I would veer towards text-based chanson française, gypsy music, which is not like me. On this album, I wanted to work on my delivery, how I stress words when I sing a text. I wanted to make French sound the way I like, and I did.”

The writing process also differed, this time around. Where Bohèmes was a compilation of seven years’ worth of writing, this time Malette was filled with creative urgency. Used to waiting for inspiration, she decided to force the issue, holing up in a cabin in the woods with a single goal in mind: write songs. “But the truth is, inspiration didn’t come when I wanted it,” she says. “There I was, with writer’s block, taking walks in the woods and making fires, hoping it would soon come. But the context did provoke things; I managed to write six songs, and forest is one of the most common nouns in the songs. It left its mark…” Since then, Malette’s phone is constantly in record mode to capture her melodic ideas, and a notebook is never far, so she can jot down themes, or lyrics snippets.

In order to convert those introspective creative impulses into financially viable ones, Malette also had to come up with new financing streams. She rapidly abandoned the idea of crowd-funding à la Kickstarter, a model that’s become over-used and impersonal, to her. After the Bohèmes tour, Malette wanted to keep going, so she came up with the idea for her “Feu de camp” (“Campfire”) tour. She contacted more than 300 camping sites. The response was immediate. In no time, 40 gigs were booked. No middlemen, no venue to pay, only one musician to accompany her (Judith Sun), minimal expenses.

“It creates deep ties,” says Malette. “You have a beer with people, you pee in their bathroom, you partake in their méchoui (spit-roasted whole lamb)… I have spare keys for cabins all over the province. And I’ve learned a lot.” Nowadays, she repeats this winning formula for other artists like François Lachance and David Paradis.

The other financing stream she set up is a VIP Fan system. For a certain amount of money, three interactive shows were presented to her fans in Montréal, Québec City and Granby, and the fans chose which songs she would sing, as well as those that would appear on the eponymous album. Malette also asked for their comments in order to get to know them better. “I did everything on my own, and I needed to step back from my songs a little,” she says. “I knew my fans could provide me with that perspective. I was surprised to find out that what they crave the most are my compositions. I did a cover of Francine Raymond’s ‘Pour l’amour qu’il nous reste’, [‘For the Love We Still Have Left’] and my fans were very clear that that was only OK live.” The singer – who has left her mark on the Star Académie TV singing competition, the Festival de la chanson de Granby, and Ma première Place des Arts – honours those ties with her fans in various ways, notably an early release of her second album just for them.

A multi-talented artist, Malette questioned the “complete control” route she’d taken until the very end of the process. “I thought it’d be faster,” she says. “And I’ve realized how much time doing all of that requires. It’s very demanding, but I have good support. A month before the album’s release, I got an offer from a record label. I did hesitate for a moment. But I thought it was crazy to have worked so hard on self-producing, only to embark in another vehicle. It’s like I had decided, five minutes before a marathon’s finish line, to ask somebody else to cross it for me. I did not go through all this for that.”

Don’t miss Malette’s “making of” video playlist for he new album:

“Having integrity, following instinct, expressing what we feel. The goal: creating good music that gives us extreme emotions.”  Such is the answer of Montréalers Emma Beko and Gab Godon, a.k.a. Hearstreets, when asked to describe the direction of their musical project – one that’s been attracting a lot of attention, lately.

Extreme emotions are what Heartstreets served to the audience during their surprise performance in the parking lot of Rouyn-Noranda’s Paramount, last September during the Festival de Musique Émergente. It was love at first sight, between the duo’s contagious enthusiasm and the small crowd’s thirst for discovery. What they discovered is a rap, R&B and soul-tinged electro-pop offering. To wit, the reaction of the crowd seconds after the duo’s short performance:

Even though Heartstreets first appeared on YouTube five years ago, things started getting serious in 2015. After a string of singles, EPs and shows, they made a big impression at Osheaga, last summer – enough that the festival is presenting their current headlining tour dates, in Toronto, Montréal and Québec City, with Ryan Playground opening.

But what’s been attracting the most attention lately is their new single “Blind,” produced by 2016 Polaris Prize winner and 2015 SOCAN Award winner Kaytranada. The single that was presented exclusively by famed music magazine The Fader, which praised the song’s qualities.

“We work with different producers on practically every song,” says Gab. “It’s important to us because it allows us to explore the various aspects of our style, and it stimulates our creative process by constantly introducing new sounds. Our collaboration with Kaytranada came about very organically. We worked together in a studio, and then worked on the song separately, and we all love the final result! We don’t follow a recipe when we’re working on a new track, it’s constantly evolving!”

What’s unchanging is the steep upward trajectory of their popularity, as Heartstreets witness their fanbase increasing both steadily and rapidly. Something tells us that’s not about to slow down…