After having played an integral part of making Angry Candy a standout talent both here at home in New Brunswick, and on the national stage, vocalist Izabelle Ouellet is stepping out on her own.
On Wednesday evening, at Moncton’s Empress Theatre, Izabelle will be celebrate the release of her French-language self-titled debut solo album, an idea that she admits had been percolating for quite some time.
“A couple of years ago, I was a participant in Les Eloizes, which essentially forced me to write one song in French,” she says. “I grew up on English music and English songs, but finally writing a song in French ended up sparking something within me.”
Izabelle says that she hadn’t intentionally avoided writing or singing in French in the past, as much as she had simply found it easier to express herself through her music in English. Added to that, her biggest musical influences like Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston and Etta James all sang in English as well.
Despite being fluently bilingual, Izabelle didn’t immediately see the inherent need to leave her comfort zone.
“In the past, any time I sang in French, I just couldn’t find my voice. It seemed like a totally different world to me, but I began to feel as though I had reached a personal plateau in terms of what I could do in English and felt it was a good time to explore other ways of expressing myself. It was as though once I got one song behind me, the floodgates just opened from there.”
Rather than conforming to expectations on what a French-language release should sound like, the artist took it upon herself to meld the best of all worlds.
“I wanted the release to be something that would stand out in the French market. I took inspiration from the English artists that I love, and wrote French songs based on American pop music. With Angry Candy as well as Izzy & The Prohibition, I love to sing and dance; those were two characteristics that I wanted to be sure that my French songs had as well.”
Earlier this year, Izabelle had the chance to showcase her solo material for audiences overseas, after being asked to participate in the Festival Interceltique de l’Orient in France.
Acknowledging that the shows were the first time that her material was played outside of the recording studio, Izabelle says the enthusiasm with which audiences greeted her served to reassure her that she had created something special.
“I had people singing my songs back to me,” she recalls. “I couldn’t have asked for better audiences to play these songs in front of for the first time.”
While Angry Candy and her soul-inspired band Izzy & The Prohibition remain going concerns for Izabelle, she is happy to temporarily switch gears and focus on a different aspect of her artistry for a period of time.
In her eyes, her refusal to only pursue one style of music helps her bring something unique to the table of all three of her projects.
“The plan is to play as much as I can with this solo record. I love being on tour and being on the road; it’s always been the purpose of why I sing in the first place.”
Izabelle’s self-titled debut record is now available.
What: Izabelle album release for Izabelle
When: Wednesday Oct. 7, 5 p.m.
Where: Empress Theatre, Robinson Court, Downtown Moncton
This event is free and open to all ages