Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood, located just adjacent to the city’s bustling downtown core, has earned a reputation as one of the city’s primary artistic hubs. It also serves as a home to trendy cafes, world-renowned restaurants (Schwartz’s, anyone?), concert venues, and other cultural staples, all of which appealed to Moncton singer-songwriter Caroline Savoie when she sought to make her home in the city.
“There is an artsy feeling running through the whole neighbourhood,” Savoie says of the city that has been her hometown since May 2016. “Being here, you still feel like you’re in a big city, but Le Plateau is like a great community within that city boasting a diverse mix of artists. There is an unmistakable vibrancy to the area.”
Asked what helped fuel her decision to make Montreal her home for the time being, Savoie says it was combination of a love for the city and a desire to not become complacent in her hometown of Moncton.
“On a personal and professional level, my move to Montreal was warranted in a lot of ways. I used to visit the city so often, every time I would be leaving the city, I’d wonder why I just don’t live here. Moncton will always be home; I had a good thing going while I was there, but I also knew that moving to Montreal would inspire me to do better and really push myself to build my career. I also loved the whole notion of just being an anonymous face in the crowd.”
This past September, the 22 year-old Francophone musician released her self-titled full-length debut effort via Quebec label Spectra Musique, with whom she signed in February 2016. The album is a dynamic showcase of Savoie’s wise-beyond-her-years folk-pop songwriting abilities, and serves as the culmination of the years of hard work she has already put into her career.
In other words, Savoie’s days of remaining an anonymous face among residents of Le Plateau may be numbered.
Since debuting in 2011, Savoie has released two EPs – her recording debut Just Sayin’ and 2013’s Laisse-moi rêver – in addition to performing upwards of 300 hundred shows throughout Canada, the United States, Belgium and France.
Awards for the young singer-songwriter have not been in short supply along the way. In 2015, Savoie was crowned the grand prize winner in the Festival International de la Chanson de Granby, a songwriting competition that has helped boost the careers of fellow New Brunswickers Lisa LeBlanc, and Marie-Jo Therio, among many others.
Savoie’s long journey to her debut record also happened to include a detour to France’s take on the popular American television show The Voice, La Voix. Although she didn’t walk away with the show’s top prize, she admits to having taken away far more than she believed she would have gained from the experience.
“La Voix wasn’t something that I had set out to do. It took some convincing to get me to audition, mainly because I was worried that if I took part, it was going to define the rest of my career. I went into it expecting nothing, but in the end, it actually taught me a lot about who I am as an artist and who I wanted to be. I am very grateful for the experience.”
That experience and more can be heard throughout Savoie’s newest album. Helping bring the record to life was American producer Jay Newland, a Grammy Award winner whose resume includes work with Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, and Norah Jones.
Savoie acknowledges that having the opportunity to work with Newland was a dream come true of sorts.
“I had someone suggest that I should look into working with Jay. They convinced me that it was worth reaching out to him to gauge his interest. I just didn’t ever think it would actually come to fruition.”
Just two days after being sent a sampling of the material that Savoie had prepped for her full-length debut, Newland signed onto the project, beckoning the New Brunswick native to join him in New York City the very next week.
With just six days to complete the recording of the album in the fall of 2015, Savoie anticipated feeling a significant amount of pressure to ensure the process ran smoothly. After entering the studio, she shares that she was delighted at the manner in which recording unfolded.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I first went into the studio,” she says. “I was initially nervous, but everyone that was involved with the making of the album really took the project to heart. I went in expecting to feel like a number, but the reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. Not only was the band that played on the record just magnificent, Jay ensured that my voice was heard throughout every step of the recording process as well.”
Considering the relatively constrained timeframe that they had to work with, Savoie says the recording process couldn’t have gone any better than it did. Not only did Savoie capture lightning in a bottle with each of the album’s tracks, she shares her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Buckets Of Rain” was essentially captured on her first run through the track.
“That was just how Jay worked. He wanted to be sure we were getting the purest version of these songs that we could get. The whole process was nothing short of magical.”
In early March, Savoie will once again have the opportunity to bring her music to European audiences. She kicks off a month-long tour in Arlon, Belgium on March 3, wrapping up with a performance in Gauchy, France on April 8. Following her return to Canada, Savoie will then undertake an eight-date tour of Quebec in support of Francophone singer Patrick Bruel.