Mélanie Brulée, cowgirl from Cornwall

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OTTAWA-Country-folk singer Mélanie Brulée has been named Executive Director of the Music Industry Coalition of Ottawa (CIMO). An atypical Franco-Ontarian, we owe him two albums as well as the formation of a cultural link between French Canada and the southern United States.

“How important is your heritage as a Francophone from Cornwall as an artist?

My father was a Quebecer from Montreal who married a woman from Cornwall. My mother remarried when I was six years old to an English speaker. Legally, my name is Melany McDonald, but Brulée was born.

I went to school in French. I remember we were bullied when we spoke English in the hallways. We know what it does to children. What you tell me not to do, I want to do. It is not good to speak French in school. It’s embarrassing, because schools are trying so hard. Many artists came.

On the other hand, my school career allows me to see that there are artists doing business. cold in French and that’s why I want to keep my Francophonie as an adult.

How did you get into music?

After high school, I worked for two years in Kingston and then left for Australia. I met a man in a hotel in Sydney who played the guitar. I started singing with him while he was playing. This is nothing special. He had a little book with chords and he offered to show it to me. Playing the guitar is really painful when you start!

He became a very good friend. We traveled together station wagon big enough to lie down and play the guitar. We went to the east coast. It’s a pretty intensive three-month guitar course, but it’s disguised as smoking on the beach, drinking beer in the afternoon, having trip.

When did you start working in music?

I often played on street corners to get tips. I gained confidence.

Tell us about your very first street cornerThe fire

It’s in Byron Bay in Australia: I’m 21-22 years old. You need to ask the merchants if you can, otherwise you will be evicted. I did something open microphone then friends encouraged me to move on. I have no money either work so I thought I might sing in the street.

I asked a store owner if I could sing in front of his store. He was hesitant. I asked him to leave me two songs and I would leave if things didn’t go well. Finally, he came to give me change!

I met a community through this activity. Sometimes, I’m hungry, I haven’t eaten yet. I didn’t stop, because there were a lot of tourists, it was a time of haste. A Good Samaritan came in with a sandwich on a plate when I wanted to stop. When you’re connected with people, it’s like you’re reading other people’s minds.

Mélanie Brulée performing. Photo credit: Tomo Nogi

Then you go from the street to the stage. What was your first gig ?

I came back to Kingston, Ontario at age 26 and was playing in the streets. One of my former bosses bumped into me by chance and asked me if I had ever considered playing anywhere other than the street … Of course!

He owned a pub and asked me to go and do a concert there. I came to tell the bartender then told me that the actor who was coming the same night had just been canceled. I was offered $ 75 to exchange it for a three hour show.

I released all the songs I knew in the world especially covers like a rock zombie from Cranberries. I went home that night to borrow a friend’s guitar. The amp cracked. I don’t have a microphone. I thought this was my first and last show. They called another musician to help me. Finally, the pub offered me to perform every Tuesday night. I spent my week discovering songs.

It took me ten years to develop my voice and my artistic personality. I came back to Canada in 2011. After six months in Cornwall, I went to an event after in Toronto and moved there to boost my career.

In 2013, I applied for a grant from the Ontario Arts Council and I was accepted for a residency program in France. I wrote poems every morning and evening in French to reappear in my language that I had lost so much in Australia.

What motivated you to use native language in your creations?

Returning from Australia, my vocabulary struggled. I was afraid of losing my tongue. I told myself that by writing poetry every morning and evening, I would make songs from it, then my first album when I came back to Canada would be in French.

A project changes during production. The poems are not good, I only hid a few in the end. But it gave me the strength to pursue French. I listened to music, television, interviews, etc.

We came to the first album Unbridled in 2015. In what context was it born and what was the first song?

I met director Benoit Maurier through Anick Granger, who accompanied me on the Western tour. He was on his way home from Winnipeg and we met in Thunder Bay. We went to record some songs at his place in Montreal. We did three demos. The first song is Scared of me, we made a demo using wooden boots. He was really thinking out of the boxwe did some special things, but with great results.

The album Unbridled, 2015. Courtesy

After the recording came the time of publication. How do you feel about your baby?

The release of the album was a huge stress. There is a whole area of ​​doubt. A song never ends. When we came out, that’s really it enough. How the public receives our songs is none of our business. Our job is to do it and release it. As for my first album, it was played a lot on radios and satellites. I earned enough to do my second in English (2018).

Beyond the fact it’s in English, how is this second album different from the first?

More countries, more Americana. I wrote most of the songs in a trip which I did from Nashville to Las Vegas and was obsessed with old movie music west. I have fans in English and French. I worked a lot on my French side from 2013 to 2018. Then I told myself I was part of the same community so I had to give an album to my English speaking community.

Life changed at that moment, because it was no longer making art to make art, but making art to make a living. Music is mine work, that’s no longer the way I deal with my emotions. This is what caused my stress. That’s why I had a big depression in 2019. I wanted to quit permanently for six months and my six months ended in March 2020 and we all know what happened.

Fire, Flood, and Things We Leave, 2018. Courtesy

We know your dedication to raising awareness on mental health issues. Can you tell us more?

It’s no secret that my father committed suicide when I was 12. This is why I want to learn more about anxiety and depression. I’m struggling too, it’s in my blood. When someone commits suicide, the rest are many questions.

I joined the Canadian Mental Health Association. I do workshops with kids, fundraisers. I have a page dedicated to mental health resources on my website. It was a mission given to me, I think. I see every moment of pain as an opportunity to learn more from others. Everyone suffers from mental health issues, if you’re not it’s someone you know.

When someone commits suicide, the rest are many questions. Because of the pandemic, we talk more about mental health. Everything that is very small is really big when you are isolated.

Your artistic career will lead you in the direction of Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (CIMO). Under what circumstances did this happen?

I worked for Canadian live music associationI did something tracking radio, programs, I worked in a management company. Someone on the association’s board of directors asked me to apply for the coalition. At first, I wasn’t sure. Do I have what it takes to run an organization like this? I finally did the interview and they told me I had done really well. I know how to manage campaigns, I organize big events. I gave all my strength to a work and I had the opportunity to make great changes in the music scene. I know what that leads to combustion and how to create a healthier community for artists.

What do you plan to contribute during this mandate?

I want a basic fee for the artists we hire. There are many artists who need work and who will do it shows for less than it is worth. There’s television that pays well, then we have artists that are virtually free Spotify. If our royalties can’t pay us, how are we going to keep the music scene going?

Finally, I really want to refine our membership system so that everyone can talk to each other, mentorship, get to know each other to really create a community. »

Important dates for Mélanie Brulée:

1982: Born in Cornwall

2003: Travel to Australia

2015: Launch of There is no restraintalbum with three nominations in the Gala Trille Or

2018: Release of Fire, Flood, and Things We Leavehis second album

2022: Became Executive Director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition

Every weekend, ONFR+ meets with a player on Francophone or political issues in Ontario and Canada.

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