The digital era may seem like the perfect time for building a career in music. Creative resources and tools for engagement on social media are endless. However, when it becomes the only chance for success, with the added weight of pandemic isolation, it can take a toll on anyone’s general well-being.

Canadian singer-songwriter noelle crafted one of her most-played songs on Spotify without being afraid to get personal. With more than 290,000 clicks, “Therapy” tackles the importance of mental health awareness. “I want people to know that they’re not alone,” says the musician. “It’s really important to just have an outlet. That’s what I wrote ‘Therapy’ about.”

The 20-year-old, raised on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario, has already racked up a following of almost 95,000 subscribers on YouTube. She combines her Indigenous roots with an acquired taste for 60-year-old jazz, and everything in between. From powwow drums to Nat King Cole, to pop and R&B, noelle’s music is a collage of genres that she’s been exploring, right up to the present day.

“My dad has a recording studio in our basement,” she says. “He has a band, and makes Native wind flutes and drums in his woodshop. I think it’s really made my music tastes wide. That’s kind of affected the music I write and create today.”

Following a very different path from her classmates, the singer-songwriter inked her first record deal right after graduating high school, signing to Wax Records – the home of bülow, Virginia to Vegas, and Alyssa Reid. “Wax has introduced me to so many incredible writers and producers, with whom I’ve built a friendship, and continuously work, on a regular basis,” says noelle. “They’ve all helped me grow as a writer, and the producers have helped me grow as a vocalist. I’m really grateful to have met these people.”

She’s gearing up for the debut of her first EP, 30K, which demonstrates noelle’s journey to adulthood with a deep, emotional gift for storytelling – which she hopes will move people, and remind them of their first love.

“I was getting over somebody at the time that I wrote the song ‘30K,’” says noelle. “When I went into the session, I wanted to write about my feelings, but I wanted it to be a super-fun, upbeat song. We came up with the idea of, ‘How would you get over somebody if you were rich?’ And we were, like, ‘Okay, let’s go to L.A., let’s go shopping, let’s go to the club.’”

For the past three years, noelle has spent most of her days in the studio, and has recorded an impressive 100 demos. She usually sits down in front of the piano, and plays the keys until a melody comes. Then she applies her lyrics, to try to capture one memorable experience or another – typically, about the ups and downs of falling in love.

“I pull inspiration from so many different things,” she says. “Even if I watch a movie, if there’s a scenario that’s really interesting, that might inspire me to write a song about it. Or, if I hear a song from another artist that’s amazing, and I love it. But also, just, like, if there’s a cool word, or I hear some somebody say something that could be a cool song title”

Now the young artist, who began writing her own music, song by song, as a therapeutic form of self-expression, dreams of performing at the Grammy Awards. “I just want my songs to be able to reach people, so that they know that they’re not alone in the situations my songs are about,” she says.



In the just under five years since Milford, Ontario’s Jade Eagleson, 27, decided to trade in his tractor for tune-smithing, the country music world has welcomed him with open arms.

Eagleson has accomplished quite a bit in a short time. He’s released two albums, including Honkytonk Revival in November of 2021. He’s also landed six Top 10 Canadian country singles, including three No. 1s – for “Lucky,” “All Night To Figure It Out,” and “More Drinkin’ Than Fishin'” (a duet with Dean Brody). Eagleson has received platinum certification (80,000 sold) for  2018’s “Got Your Name On It,” and earned two gold records (40,000 sold) for “Count The Ways” and “Close.” In 2019, he won the Canadian Country Music Rising Star Award, and he’s received two JUNO Award nominations so far.  He’s garnered nearly 200 million cumulative global streams, and 78 million-plus views on YouTube. (On a personal note, he met Maria Paquin on the set of the video for “Got Your Name On it,”  and married her within a year.)

The whole kit-and-kaboodle kicked off in 2017, when Eagleson played a life-changing Emerging Artist Showcase at the Boots and Hearts Festival (following a pattern set by the equally-rural-Ontario, and hugely successful  James Barker Band).

“Boots and Hearts was an experience I couldn’t compare to anything else,” recalls the now-Nashville transplant. “It was pretty awesome – getting up there and singing the songs I wrote – and hearing people react in a big way for the first time. I played a lot of hometown shows and the honky-tonk at home (in Millford, Ontario), and it’s pretty big, but you can only fit a couple of hundred people in there.  Boots and Hearts – you’re talking thousands of people – and  it was, ‘Ho-Lee!’ The Fear of God was put into me the first time I stepped onstage. It was some type of adrenaline rush that confirmed, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.'”

Blessed with a ten-gallon baritone, Eagleson initially made his mark with a 2018 self-titled EP, and his eponymous 2020 album, with the help of a core stable of SOCAN collaborators – Beaverton, Ontario’s Travis Wood. and from Toronto, Gavin Slate and Todd Clark (all three of whom have had great success co-writing with James Barker as well) – that supplied six of the album’s 10 songs.

Eagleson has an amusing anecdote about writing “A Little Less Lonely” the first time he met Slate and Wood in Toronto.

“I met Gavin and Travis just when I started getting into the country world,” Eagleson recalls. ” And I had no idea about how those writing sessions were supposed to be structured. Pick away at it for a couple of days and have a few beers? I had no clue. I was still farming back then,  and so we began writing the song and four hours in, that’s all the time I had. So, I told them, ‘You know what? I have to go home and feed the pigs.'”

Apparently Wood and Slate didn’t take Eagleson so literally, and thought it was an “Eagleson-ism” for “going out to have a cigarette or grab a coffee.” Two hours after he arrived home in Milford, he received a call from the buddy who had introduced him to the duo. “He says, ‘Why did you leave?'” Eagleson recalls. “To this day, I get teased about it: when we have a break, they tell me, ‘Just don’t go out and feed the pigs.'”

For his current album, HonkyTonk Revival, Eagleson contributes two of the eight songs – “Whiskey Thinks I Am” with Daryl Scott and “I Don’t Drink” with Scott and Kyle Renton – and says part of the reason was the pandemic.

“It was difficult to get into (writing) rooms,” Eagleson admits. “Obviously, there’s technology around it,  but I feel like you lose some of the authenticity in your writing when you do it over Zoom. I did have some times where I came up with something great while using that method, but it’s hard to write when you’re not reading or feeling the emotions of the room.  I wrote a lot over the pandemic but there was nothing that said, ‘This is going to give the fans what they want to hear.’ So, we started sourcing out different songs, and if there’s something better than a song I wrote, that’s what we’re going to use.”

Eagleson’s Expertise: Three tips for Novice Songwriters

  1. “A song doesn’t get done in a day.”
  2. “Massage an idea.”
  3. “Have fun with it.”

Eagleson says his most useful device for capturing ideas is the iPhone. “A lot of the time, I’ll be doing something random and I don’t have time to get right to a guitar,” he explains. ” A lot of times, I’ll be going to sleep – and my wife has yet to complain about this – but I’ll take my iPhone and record a voice memo, humming a song. That’s my go-to right now. I’ll put in a melody here or an idea there and try and massage it later.

“Then I’ll bring it in and see what [the core writers] think of it,” he continues, “and I’ll have something on guitar, and show them what I’m thinking. Sometimes it works really great and we get some awesome ideas of it.  Other times, this may not have been my best idea. It’s always good to try.”

While Eagleson takes the time to write by himself, he also loves the art of collaboration, and would one day love to write with Shania Twain. “It’s always good to have someone else’s opinion,” he says. “I know a lot of people that think it’s not as creative to co-write, but I strongly disagree. The more people you have, the more angles of life you attack. You could have your situation out there on paper, and you could have a couple of other guys that are also going through something similar, but may be a bit different, so your audience is going to be that much bigger.

“You also don’t realize how much room for improvement there is until you write with someone else that’s been in the game longer,” he admits. “You write with them and you’re like, ‘Man, I never would have thought of that!’ I wouldn’t have put that chord structure in there. I wouldn’t have twisted the words like that. It really levels your game up.”

 



Medium Plaisir, the Québec City singer-songwriter and guitarist’s first album, has finally made it to our ears, after a long and formative journey through various competitions – such as Petite-Vallée, Cabaret Festif! de la Relève, Festival international en chanson de Granby, and a third place win during the finals of the 2020 Francouvertes (where Valence ended up the winner).

Ariane Roy“Competitions are an opportunity, but they can be insidious,” says Roy. “It screws with your ego and your confidence, like at the Francouvertes, where judges are right in front, and they’re taking notes. It’s hard, and it’s a test of humility.”

Listening to the 24-year-old musician’s dozen new songs reveals an album that feels like a huge breath of fresh air; an incarnation of pop purity before which one can only bow. Her song “Ta Main” was the Révélation Radio-Canada 2021–2022, and Roy was selected as one of SOCAN’s six artists to watch, and chosen as a finalist for the Francophone side of the SOCAN Songwriting Prize. It also won the Slaight Music Emerging Songwriter Award, presented by the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In other words, she’s well on her way to a successful career. Her management has been taken on by La Maison Fauve.

“By getting involved in the co-production (with guitarist Dominique Plante) of this project, I learned a lot and made great strides in my career,” says Roy. “On a more human aspect, being confronted with my limits, and letting go of certain aspects, is still a work in progress. Focusing on the right thing, and not asking constant questions… Sometimes we have blinders on, we become obsessed with what we’re doing, and it becomes a little alienating. It takes us away from the creative goal.”

Alexandre Martel (Anatole, Mauves), who co-produced Hubert Lenoir’s Darlène, flew in at the end of the process to impart a few pieces of advice. “He put his finger right on what worked and what didn’t,” says Roy. “Is the song still good? Is it just me who can’t stand it any longer? These songs offer extreme scrutiny of who I am. I started writing them at the beginning of the pandemic, and because there was so little going on around me, I was forced to reach deep inside myself to express urgent things. Certain passages, however, are pure fiction. Things are magnified like that, because at any given moment my life isn’t necessarily interesting enough that it makes it to my diary.

“Making an album can be exacting,” she continues. “We recorded all last summer at Le Nid studio in St-Adrien, and we refined all fall the demos at Dominique’s. We asked ourselves so many questions. We flipped songs completely, felt like dropping some to write new ones; those were five very intense days, but I loved it!”

Roy’s musical palette is quite stunning. Medium Plaisir is an album whose depth doesn’t diminish with multiple plays. It was meticulously crafted. Just as on her Avalanche EP, the modus operandi is often the same: a soft beginning, with a beefier orchestration that comes in about mid-way, and a conclusion replete with satin-soft backing vocals, and melodies that co-exist alongside frenzied cascades of guitars. “We really had a lot of fun,” she says. “I love beginning small and just building and building by adding different sounds.”

She also loves vocal harmonies and choirs, and make no bones about it. “It takes up a lot of space in my musical project,” says Roy. “I’ve always been drawn to that. Hence the presence of Lou-Adriane Cassidy and Odile Marmet-Rochefort.”

Roy has the typical spunk of people her age, and the tools to write songs with hypnotic power, or evanescent ballads composed of a few notes – as evidenced by “Automne,” “Miracle,” and “Ce n’est pas de la chance.” Or by the glittering dialogue between her riffs, and vocals that climb high to the sky, while her accompanists are entirely at her service.

“Apprendre encore,” arguably Medium Plaisir’s best song (in my humble opinion), immediately sinks its hooks in, thanks to its piano lines. It’s the type of song that could easily make it to the silver screen. “We fine-tuned it for three whole days,” says Roy. “When I came home that night, I poured a glass of wine and wondered what I was going to write for that music. For me it is a song of anger in affirmation. There’s a layer of self-deprecation and humility that’s, like, ‘This is who I am.’ It talks about the journey, and learning, and it betrays my age.”