A new pop singer-songwriter has entered the conversation. After two years of dropping consistently listenable singles, Olivia Lunny has handed listeners the key to her diary with a self-titled debut album.

Introduced to music early, the singer-songwriter hasn’t stopped since her first strum of a guitar. At 14, Lunny landed onstage and performed for 40,000 people at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. From a passion for writing poetry in Grade 4, to scoring a deal with Universal Music in May of 2021, Lunny recognized early on the possibilities created by slowly adding some chords to turn her poems into songs. “I came home from a hard day at school, I sat down with my guitar, and played to de-stress,” says the singer-songwriter. “That’s when I started writing full songs. Then one thing kind of led to another, and I guess now I’m here.”

Fast-forward a few years from her start, and the Winnipeg native was like any young adult trying to navigate life in their early twenties. As Lunny experienced life, she wrote lyrics and created melodies reflecting her major influences: Fleetwood Mac, Coldplay, and Ed Sheeran.

She got her foot in the door by participating in the nationally televised singing competition The Launch in 2019 – which she won. Then, in April of 2020 (shortly after COVID-19 struck), she was hand-picked to sing alongside Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, and Michael Bublé in a cover version of “Lean On Me” (which became a Top 40 hit), to benefit the Canadian Red Cross’s COVID-19 initiatives. The same year, adding to her growing list of accomplishments, Lunny earned a SOCAN Foundation Young Canadian Songwriters Award for the song “Bedsheets.”

Lunny’s career is just beginning to blossom, but her list of collaborators already includes some musical heavyweights. Discussing her 2021 single “Who Could Say No,” she explains how the collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da (Drake, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey) and hit music-maker YogiTheProducer (Kehlani, Jessie Reyez) happened in the studio.

“I was with YogiTheProducer and Boi-1da, and it was late at night,” she says. “There were some really cool studio lights, and he just put on this really cool beat. I wanted to write a song that was happy, empowering, and fun. Especially because the pandemic has been a dark time for so many of us. That’s how we came up with ‘Who Could Say No.’”

“That break was really important for me, because I put so much pressure on myself to write”

An ode to heartbreak and open wounds, Lunny’s debut album aims to introduce herself to listeners, offering them a deep, authentic, and vulnerable dive into her personal journey. “I hope my music can be the soundtrack to people’s lives,” she says. “I just want it to be a part of people’s journeys.”

Lunny says the pandemic has impacted her songwriting, and led her to recognize that she needed a break from music. “The first few months of lockdown, [it was] actually really hard for me to write,” she says. “After two months, I picked up the guitar and started writing again. That break was really important for me, because I put so much pressure on myself to write.”

 According Lunny, her writing process is spontaneous, filled with random bursts of creativity. “I either write a song in 20 minutes, or in three days,” she says. “It’s all over the place, but that’s still kind of the most fun part, because it keeps it so interesting. I think the hardest part for any songwriter is writing really unique, cool, smart lyrics. I would argue it’s really easy to write a bad song.”

Lunny looks forward to life after COVID, so she can venture out and share her love for music and songwriting with the world. “I would love to write some songs for other artists, travel the world, and play shows in many different places,” she says. “I’ve never actually been on a tour. So definitely, playing shows all over is a huge goal.”

Charles Aznavour, Jehan Valiquet

L to R: Charles Aznavour, Jehan Valiquet

Charles Aznavour is one of those artists who has stood the test of time, one of the few French-speaking songwriters able to reach an audience that doesn’t even speak their language. To this musical giant, music publisher Jehan V. Valiquet has dedicated his latest major album project.

Valiquet has been working behind the scenes of the music industry for almost 40 years as a publisher – a copyright guardian, in short – for some of the most beautiful songs from Canada, France, and Belgium. He represents, among others, the repertoires of Serge Lama, Julien Clerc, Vanessa Paradis, and Yves Duteil. Some of the most beautiful songs by Ginette Reno, Lara Fabian, Robert Charlebois, Charles Trenet, and Félix Leclerc also have a home at Musinfo, his company.

Over time, he’s earned the trust of Gérard Davoust, the epitome of the unknown soldier, and the general manager of Éditions Raoul Breton, undoubtedly France’s most prestigious publisher.

“At one point, I was able to get Serge Lama, and at that time, he was represented by Breton,” says Valiquet. “What I was doing was making an appointment with Gérard Davoust to present him with reports on what was selling, what was being played. We were always in the ‘vouvoiement,’ which is kind of normal considering brothers and sisters ‘vouvoie’ each other over there!… It was very formal, but from time to time he would invite me for oysters not far from his office on Rossini Street. Once, I said to him, ‘You know, Mr. Davoust, I would really be interested by Charles Aznavour’s catalogue.’ He replied, ‘You know, Mr. Valiquet, it weighs a lot!’ But I didn’t know that expression… So I said, ‘No problem, I have room in my suitcase!’ I thought he wanted to give me sheet music and all that. He must have thought I was a complete moron!”

Amoureuse des motsOver the years, as they met in Paris or Cannes for MIDEM, Gérard Davoust loosened up, finally switched from calling Valiquet “vous” to “tu,” and ended up offering him, almost on a silver platter, the repertoire of the great Aznavour. It’s a crucial moment that Valiquet will always remember. “As I was leaving he said, ‘By the way, I’m giving you Aznavour.’ I wasn’t expecting that. He went into his office and I was in the middle of the street. I yelled, ‘Wow!’ People must’ve thought I was crazy.”

Sixteen years after bringing together many artists – including Pierre Lapointe (who performed “Les plaisirs démodées”) and Diane Dufresne – for an album in tribute to Aznavour, Valiquet is doing it again. The new project is similar in every way, except that it exclusively features women. Among them are the spoken word virtuoso Queen Ka (a.k.a. Haitian-born Montréal-based Rebecca Jean) and pianist Valérie Lahaie. All are complete artists, grand dames, SOCAN members, and songwriters in their own right. The very definition of Amoureuses des mots.

“They’re all singer-songwriters, obviously singers, some of them musicians,” says Valiquet. “They’re all signed exclusively to Musinfo, and I’m the publisher of their songs. I had the idea during the pandemic… It’s a great opportunity to put these girls in the spotlight. They’re all doing their own thing with their social networks, Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, all that.”

Annie Poulain

Annie Poulain

Annie Poulain is one of them, a jazz vocalist with an alto range who’s distinguished herself more than once with ADSIQ Gala nominations, and as the creator of the Dix piano une voix album released independently in 2018. She sings “Le jazz est revenu,” a title that could not be more apropos, considering the recent success of a jazz-tinged project like Les Louanges, or the recent rise of a musician like Dominique Fils-Aimé. “I just hope that Aznavour’s vision at that time was prescient,” she says, “and that jazz will really come back in a big way in the next few years!”

“La Mamma” is revived by the voice of the Italian-Quebecer Dominica Merola. The lyrics resonate in a whole new way for her, now. “With the year we’ve just lived through, deprived of our mother’s kisses and embraces, I felt this song was gut-wrenching,” she says.

The world is ever-changing, but thanks to the creative publishing work of Jehan V. Valiquet, Charles Aznavour’s words remain current, and adaptable to all the trials we collectively go through – in short, absolutely timeless.


J-F and Paige first saw each other during a trip in the Nevada desert, and after that, they felt like never going home. While travelling together throughout the American West, the Québécois and the Georgian, both musicians, decided to share their influences with each other. Once back in Montréal, they became MIELS, and even though they’re staying put, their electro-rock takes us on a trip. The music they made in the desert expressed what surrounded them: space, warmth, budding romance. And then, that story repeated itself in new landscapes: they found music everywhere they went.

When she decided to settle in Québec, Paige immediately wanted to translate all the notes she’d jotted down in her travelogue. “When I moved to Montréal, I was surprised to see so many Francophones in English bands, while I wanted to do exactly the opposite,” she says with a laugh. “It was important to me that I pursue my music career in French.”

“Being Francophone, I’d forgotten what it was like to have favourite words for no apparent reason, and now I love seeing how Paige has fun with the language she’s learning,” adds J-F. Travelling in Québec now takes on a special meaning, as the duo uses such opportunities to dive into the sounds of the places they visit, and the accents that are unique to them.

In the months that followed their acquaintance, Paige and J-F introduced each other to their musical universes, the former being keenly interested in Québec rock classics which she’d obviously never heard before. “She really dug Pagliaro, for example, while it brought me back to our own rock from another era, and made me want to bring back certain elements of that time in the music we’re creating today,” J-F explains. “Before Paige moved here, I would mail her vinyl records. Didn’t take long for me to turn her on to Jean Leloup,” he recalls.

Paige learned her new language through music which, she believes, “is much better than through a formal course.” Besides rock from a bygone era, the duo felt the urgency to impart the presence of mobility inherent to their project. “We met on the road, and after that, every time we were together, it was on a road trip,” says J-F. Their first album, Prends-moi comme la mort (May 2021), is – almost by definition – a very intimate creation. “It’s a musical chronology of our travels, an homage to everything we wrote in our notebooks while on the road in the States,” he explains.

A few shows at the Festival de musique émergente (FME) and during the Taverne Tour, among others, opened up new avenues for the couple, who let themselves be influenced by the fun they have on stage. “We began as somewhat of a blues-rock outfit,” says Paige, “but what we really enjoyed on stage was getting closer to electro, with drum machine backing tracks. It was the kind of electro-rock you heard in the early 2000s.”

In short, MIELS let itself be carried away by the endless possibilities of spontaneity. As a duo, basically anything became possible. “The more we wrote, the more we became comfortable with the idea of being just the two of us, but with guest musicians if and when we felt like it,” says J-F. “The White Stripes became a huge influence: something we feel just as comfortable in when it’s just the two of us – or more.”

“There are some challenges in adapting our material from the studio to the stage, but we can improvise,” says Paige. “You carry your gear in a suitcase and you can play anywhere,” J-F continues. “Sure, it does change our sound and our methods, because when we create, we’re always focused on whether it can be done by just the two of us. But we make sure it’s never limited to that. Who knows? Maybe we’ll move to Europe next week.”

Their second album was crafted during the pandemic, and was guided by this more minimalistic mentality, while never sacrificing their desire to “make big noise.”

No matter what the case may be, the constant through it all is that the only place where MIELS finds its inspiration is on the road. “We went on trips without leaving the confines of our apartment during the pandemic,” says Paige, tongue-in-cheek. “Those were a different kind of trip. We also want to travel throughout Canada in our van.”

“We found it tough to write in our kitchen, so we spent two months on the road last year with a guitar plugged in the tape deck,” reminisces J-F. “We would camp out in the woods so that nature would dictate what’s next.”

The duo will carry on songwriting, with its eyes looking outward. “We’re constantly taking notes and looking around us,” says Paige. “I hear sounds I’d never heard before coming from the mouths of the people here, and I want to reproduce them and learn even more. I’ll never stop learning.”