INTERVIEW – LAURIE LEBLANC
I am stoked to sit down as a huge fan of your stupendous creativity that sports an in-depth contribution to the worldwide music scene for just over 10 years. Laurie LeBlanc is a New Brunswick born and Bouctouche raised multilingual singer-songwriter who is also a 2-time Socan, 2-time New Brunswick Music Awards, 8-time Country Gala winner, Radio Canada Life Assumption Award who is 1 of Canada’s rising country music stars, whose distinctive style contains a sizable helping of east coast Acadian flavor.
Contrary to popular belief, making it in the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck and requires talent, strategy, and determination based on visions and goals. Your 2020 album, When It’s Right It’s Right, not only marks your 7th album but your 2nd English album where you also celebrate a decade you have been mesmerizing in the industry. DEB: 1. Explain your creative writing process and is there a difference with your writing process when you write in English versus your Acadian style French? LAURIE: “My creative writing process usually starts with a title, a line, a hook…. something that speaks to me and that I feel comfortable to talk about. Once I have a title for a song, I write freely about the subject, then review and choose the lines that stand out, or the lines that connect more. As far as melodies, when I hear a melody in my head, I record the “la la la la” right away before it goes away which I have plenty to choose from. Even though I grew up listening to English music, I started my songwriting in French. My approach is the same, but there’s still a difference between writing Fench Acadian songs and English songs. We Acadians like the toe-tapping, hand-clapping, fun “Joie de Vivre” music, so most of my creations are up-tempo beats and include our patois, slang which we call “chiac” (a mix of French and English). My French creations are often funny. As a French Singer-Songwriter, I am considered a modern artist even though my music feels like 90’s English Country music. I haven’t done a whole lot of writing in English, but I try to keep that 90’s flavor and blend it with some contemporary arrangements which my Producer Multi-Award Winner Jason Barry did brilliantly on my latest album. It’s important for me to please myself, but also please the masses.“
You had the honor to record icon songwriters Don Mescall whose songs have been recorded by everyone from Rascal Flatts and Lonestar to the Backstreet Boys and Geri Halliwell, not to mention you have also recorded another legends material, like your first single from ‘When It’s Right It’s Right’ with “The Bigger The Better,” which was a song Mescall originally wrote with Don Schlitz, whose first hit just happened to be Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler.” DEB: 2. How did it feel when you recorded songs by these iconic songwriters? LAURIE: “In the Spring of 2019, we had been talking about a new project to record an English album, but I didn’t have enough English material. That same year, we were heading to Europe for some music career development and the timing was oh so right for this English album “When It’s Right It’s Right”. That’s when I was fortunate to meet the icon songwriter Don Mescall at the FFCLD in France. We sang a song together, and I remember he told me he liked my voice. That was a defining moment. He asked me if I’d like to go to his studio in London, England to record some songs for his upcoming album and maybe a duet. When I got back in Canada, I was so delighted to receive 24 studio demos from him, which were such remarkable songs that I had a hard time choosing only five. After my final selection, he sent me another one “The Bigger The Better”… I couldn’t resist recording this amazing song which he co-wrote with the legendary Don Schiltz. Recording these astonishing songs at the studio was beyond what words can say. I’m so proud and grateful for the opportunity to record songs by these legends. I’m a strong believer that life will give you what you need at the right time.
Some of the most hysterically revered music has always played a deep role in the transformation of society and some consider how their art relates to current social-political landscapes or how their music can address these themes. DEB: 3. Does your music touch on social and political issues? LAURIE: “My music mostly consists of funny, happy, and positive stuff. I like to be able to help and motivate people through my craft. A few years ago, I started reading a positive and motivational book, and I see a lot of it in my last French album “Couleurs”. It’s an incredible feeling when you hear people say that your song has touched them so much that it changed their lives. A lot of what we hear or see on the news today is not encouraging, constructive, and reassuring! We need more supportive, hopeful, and cheerful stories and I hope that I can translate that through my music!“
DEB: 4. Did your upbringing prompt specific reference points inside your music, making your music unique? LAURIE: “While growing up, I was surrounded by various music genres. As a toddler, I was exposed to English Country music like Charlie Pride, George Jones, and French/Acadian music like “1755”, “La Bolduc” and “La Famille Daraiche”. In my teens, I was listening more to Rock from KISS to CCR. In the ’90s, I discovered Alan Jackson, George Strait, Randy Travis, to name a few; and that’s when I was hooked on Country Music. I guess there’s a little blend of everything in my songwriting – making my music somewhat unique.“
DEB: 5. Have you noticed a huge shift in music today (before Covid-19) compared to when you started a decade ago? LAURIE: “Definitely! Today’s sound is much more concentrated. Country music sounds more like pop. New artists are more diversified in their music, binging their own influences in their music. Country songs are less story-telling and more about drinking beer and whiskey. Even though I still have a passion for 90s country music, it’s important to see development and growth in music.
The way music is consumed has also changed tremendously. From vinyl to CD to streaming! In a way, these changes have affected me and other artists tremendously – CD sales have dropped considerately – but if we look at the bright side, it’s wonderful to have our music available worldwide. Evolution is amazing!“
Many artists would consider this next question a loaded question. The purpose of this inquiry, however, is to assess how aware you are of what audiences see in your work and what it provokes, and why you make music. DEB: 6. So walk us through the songs on your newest album, When It’s Right It’s Right, letting your fans know what your songs aim to say? LAURIE: “I think this album has a good blend of everything. From Traditional to Pop, to Country Rock. I kind of like to see an album as a live show. I want it to be interesting, entertaining and hopefully connecting in some way, shape, or form.
1 – WHEN IT’S RIGHT IT’S RIGHT
You know when something is meant to be, it’s like black and white! You go for it! This whole album project just felt like that, and that’s why we added this song which is also the album title.
2 – WHERE GONE GIRLS GO
This is a fun up-tempo island’ish summer song about a guy looking for girls that seem to be gone.
3 – THE BIGGER THE BETTER
A classic story about heartbreak, which turns into a celebration. Who needs to cry after a breakup? Let’s have a party! “The Bigger The Better” – My first single of the album was co-written by the legendary Don Schlitz who wrote The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. Don Mescall was featured on the song and music video.
4 – ANOTHER NIGHT LIKE THIS
A perfect night between two lovers, fireworks exploding in their hearts in a sexy groovy mid-tempo melody.
5 – BELLE OF THE BALL
This song is the closest to the Acadian flavor. It’s a simple up-tempo more traditional song which tells a story about dancing with your partner in your kitchen floor until you grow old and gray.
6 – I’VE NEVER KNOWN
This is THE song that stood out while recording at the studio. Once it was recorded, the Producer Jason Barry and the Studio Musicians (Dean Brody’s touring band – The Brodeos), listened to it once and then a second time with the lights off. I still remember when they said it was one of the best tracks they ever recorded. This beautiful well-written love song by Don Mescall and Mike Reid will be our next single … because I’ve never known anything like this!
7 – THAT’S WHAT I LOVE ABOUT US
This catchy song describes the love I share with my wife Jeannette… We were best friends than lovers, and we still enjoy each others company. That’s what I love about us, friends and lovers, that’s us! That’s really our story!
8 – ALL IN
Poker players will relate very well with the terminology of this 90’s country music song. A funny story around a serious final poker table…. a guy losing his focus on the game because of the hot girl he’s playing against. All In for love… One needs to listen to these songs to find out who’s All In and who wins. This is the only song in this album that was written by me and my wife Jeannette.
9 – I’M THAT GUY
This is a true story about the songwriter, Craig Winquist. He met this special girl but she didn’t want to get involved with him because of bad relationships in the past. She needed to let go of her past because he was THAT guy, and today they share a beautiful family together.
10 – I’M IN LOVE
Don Mescall co-wrote this Country Rock song which is a story about a guy falling in love… again and again….. until she walks in the bar short dress, green eyes! Well hold it, here I go again, I’m in love.”
DEB: 7. Who would you say has influenced you the most musically now and then? LAURIE: “Growing up in the ’90s, that’s the era that I’ve collected my biggest influences like Alan Jackson George Strait, and Randy Travis. As I got older, I was influenced by the 2000’s crop like Brand Paisley, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chestney; and today I like music by Luc Combs, Dean Brody, John Pardi, Thomas Rhett to name a few. There’s a lot of great artists out there!“
Contrary to popular belief, ‘making it’ in the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck. It requires talent, strategic, and determined effort based on your vision, goals, etc. DEB: 8. If you can share with your fans any accolades you have received. As well, which award means the most to you and why? LAURIE: “Every single accolade I was fortunate to receive, I owe them all to my fans. They have been so supportive and that’s why I still do music today. If I have to choose one in particular… In 2018, I won the Fans Choice Award at the Canadian Country Francophone Gala. This award included a trip to Paris, which is the reason I was fortunate to meet the talented songwriter Don Mescall whose a big part of my latest album When It’s Right It’s Right. Winning this award is an incredible gift from all my fans who have voted for me.“
DEB: 9. What does success mean to you? As well, what do you believe is your secret to longevity? LAURIE: “To me, success is all about living a happy and meaningful life with the persons you love. I’ve never done music for money or fame! I consider myself successful because I get to do what I’m passionate about with the persons I love. I’m very lucky to be able to make a living in music and share it with my wife Jeannette who’s my full-time manager. We share the same passion and the same goals. We travel together, and we love it! I think the secret to longevity is all about the songs and your continued connection with the fans. Of course, you need to work and it’s very important to have a great team. I’m very fortunate to have found great people over the years to work with us – professional musicians, publicists, trackers, producers, etc. I think if you’re honest, professional and do what you do for the right reasons, the right doors will open and you will meet the right people on your path. We believe everything happens for a reason and that’s why I recorded my seventh album “When It’s Right It’s Right.”
Some artists seem reluctant to speak of just how frustrating and baffling the whole experience of navigating the general music realm is, let alone add in Covid-19, or how hard they try to still be ambitious about getting their artwork seen or sold.
DEB: 10. Explain briefly how you are currently pursuing your career as a performer, and some of the ways you’ve chosen lately to engage with your legions of fans, whether that’s within the top echelon of international art circles or based on your involvement with your local community despite the challenges musicians face trying to bring your art to the new formatted audiences at home, thanks to the Corona Virus. LAURIE: “It’s so important for me to keep a connection with my fans. Social media is wonderful for that. Since Covid-19, I’ve engaged myself in doing a little live every Monday on my Facebook Page. While shooting from different locations, the fans can travel virtually with me and discover beautiful parts of my hometown, and even my province (when restrictions permit it). I update my fans on what’s happening in my life, both personally and professionally. We have contests, prizes and always finish with a positive quote of the day. I really love this virtual interaction with the fans which I’m grateful to have so many views and comments. I still feel very close to my fans during this pandemic because of that.“
DEB: 11. I noticed you are scheduled to perform June 26, 2021, for Camping Heron Blue in Balmoral NB, and July 3rd, 2021, at Acadian Country Night in Upper Ab0ujagane, NB. Are these special dates where Covid-19 rules apply? LAURIE: “All my 2020 contracts have been rescheduled to 2021. It’s still too early to know if these shows will happen or not, but I’m hopeful for the ones in NB – June 26 in Balmoral and July 3rd in Haute Aboujagane. Of course, it might not be as it was before, but I’m positive that with a few rules and restrictions, it can happen – I truly hope it will.”
DEB; 12. What performance sticks out in your mind as the most memorable in your career? LAURIE: “I’m so fortunate to have performed in so many great venues, festivals, concerts. I’m so privileged to have shared the stage with so many great artists and I’m so grateful for all the fans that have come to my shows. Every single one of my shows is memorable in its own way but one of my biggest highlights was back in 2006 with my group Zarico. We played at the Country Rocks the Hill Concert in Moncton, NB where we opened for two of my biggest influences Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. I still have the memorabilia T-shirt.“
Thanks so much for your time Laurie, I look forward to hearing back at your earliest convenience. I can place this interview for March 2021 inside both http://www.thewiremegazine.com website and its blog
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