Genevieve Racette

It says something when an artist can captivate your ears with a simple acoustic record, without the aid of bombastic arrangements, vocal enhancements and other studio wizardry or inflammatory lyrical material. But other than sparse instrumentation and superb songs, Genevieve Racette has done just that with her new record Satellite, due out March 18. To help achieve that feat, the Montreal-based singer-songwriter uses her emotive voice to draw you in leaving you to hang on each note. Her singing is such that it's as though she has dropped her guard and invited you into her private thoughts, delivered in a sweetly vulnerable manner.

And then there's the songs. It took only seconds for the first single "Maybe" to hook me. The song is something that a lot of people can relate to (although you could say that about a lot of the songs) and the chorus will stay in your ears for days. "Hostage" is equal to the task, with a slight country-flavour and a slow building structure that makes it a terrific opening cut.

One of the strongest songs is "Someone", a beautiful track about temptation. Joining her for a guest vocal is Dallas Green from City and Colour and Alexisonfire and their voices blend wonderfully. "Waiting For Your Call" is another track that merits repeated listenings. I can list them all but seriously, you can go through the whole record and find gems galore.

Needless to say, I had to connect with Genevieve to find out more about her and her music. Here's what she had to say:

antiMusic: The record, lyrically speaking, tackles several issues such as self-doubt, anxiety, and matters of personal health. With respect to the fact that these topics are ones that many people can associate with, have the last few years been particularly trying for you or is this just the most comfortable area for you to artistically connect with?

Genevieve: Both. I write about what affects me and so naturally anxiety and self-doubt were very present the past few years. I think I would have written these songs no matter what though. Nothing stops the cycle of love - not even a pandemic!

antiMusic: It seems like you may be a person who lives in her head quite a bit. Is songwriting a necessary therapy for you?

Genevieve: Haha, I don't know if I would say I live in my head but I am for sure very connected with my emotions. I have never been to therapy but I sure do write songs about my feelings! So... I guess you're right!

antiMusic: What made you confident that after assembling these nine songs they made the perfect collection for you to display to your public? Does the record have a unifying element or does it represent a certain period in your life?

Genevieve: It 100% represents a period in my life. It's all about falling out of love and falling in love again. I don't know if you're familiar with astrology but there is this period in our lives that is called the Saturn Return. It takes about 28-29 years for Saturn to come back to where it was when you were born. This creates a period of intense growth, discomfort and maturity. It makes you question everything. It pushes you to be honest with yourself about your needs. I wrote most of these songs at 29 years old so... This is totally my Saturn Return album.

antiMusic: Did the songs come together quickly or has it been a gradual affair since your last record No Water, No Flowers in 2019?

Genevieve: A bit of both actually. I wrote a first batch of songs pre-Covid times around late fall 2019: "Hostage," "Maybe," "Sober," "Les adieux" and "Someone." I then waited a little while to write the rest. I had to go through some emotional challenges to inspire the rest. "Satellite," "Change My Mind," "Waiting For Your Call" and "The Tide" were all written during lockdown in 2020.

antiMusic: "Maybe" is the first single from the record and it's the one that drew me into your music. What can you tell us about it?

Genevieve: This is a song about wanting to be someone's sure bet but only feeling like a "maybe". It's feeling so infatuated with this person that you can't see you're being taken for granted. Asking yourself the same questions over and over: Am I making this up? Does he feel the same? Is he leading me on?

I wrote this song in my friend's kitchen with two of my favorite songwriters: JUNO-nominated artist Barbra Lica. Barbra has written cuts for such artists as jazz crooner Matt Dusk (Entertainment One/Universal), rising J-Pop singer Harumi (Sony Music Japan), and Taiwanese pop recording artist, Morrison Ma (Universal Music Group/X Entertainment) and Danielle Knibbe.

Her knack for penning insightful yet straightforward lyrics has already gained her recognition, earning her a spot at the Banff Centre for the Arts inaugural Singer-Songwriter Residency. Although she was one of the youngest songwriters in the program, she was given the nickname "The Lyric Doctor" due to her natural instinct for getting to the heart of a song. We were all hanging out in Toronto and we turned our afternoon girl talk into a song.

Maybe video

antiMusic: "Someone" is an amazing song and features Dallas Green from City and Colour. How did this collaboration come about?

Genevieve: "Someone" is probably the most vulnerable song I've ever written. It's a song about desire, temptation, seduction and fantasy. There's also guilt and shame that comes with it. I think sometimes life throws feelings at you and they're meant to act as signals. Personally, this was like an alarm constantly ringing in my ears telling me my relationship had to end. I really like this song but it often brings me back to a weird place.

I wrote this song in November 2019. I clearly remember the night. I had just recently moved back into my apartment after my ex-boyfriend moved out. My drummer Phil came by and he was also in the middle of a break up. We smoked a cigarette and had a heart to heart. Four people who I work with went through heartbreak at the same time. It was sad but at least we had each other. We called ourselves the Broken Heart's Club. My apartment was the headquarters and I like to think I was the president. Twizzlers, chocolate and videogames. Luckily the club no longer exists. I actually dedicated the record to the Broken Heart's Club in my liner notes on the vinyl and CD.

I totally heard Dallas Green's voice when I wrote it but I was too shy to ask him to sing on it. There's something about the melody that reminds me of City and Colour. I'm a pretty insecure person and the idea of asking one of my teenage heroes to sing on my song was a little too scary. I sent him a few demos and out of all the songs he fell in love with "Someone". Dallas said he would love to sing on it if I was interested. I said yes... duh. He recorded his vocals remotely in a studio in Toronto

To back up a bit, in summer 2019 I was in Toronto for a promotion tour with my Canadian promo agent Cortney. I have a couple good friends who live in Toronto so I spent a few extra days there to hang out with them. On my way home I was sitting on the airplane listening to my favourite City and Colour record Guide me Back Home.

I fell in love with City and Colour when I was 15 years old. There's something about Dallas's voice and songwriting that just calms me. It's funny because people often say that about my music. Anyway, I was on the airplane listening to the record and put "Hello, I'm in Delaware" on repeat a couple times. That song takes me back to my teenage years. It grounds me and reminds me of how far I've come as an artist.

When I got home, I recorded a 45-second cover of the song and posted it to my Instagram Story. I had no idea the impact that decision would have on my career. If I would have known, I would have done something with my airplane hair, hah. Dallas liked the cover and shared it to his Instagram Story. I was ecstatic! My teenage hero shared a video of me singing his song! A couple hours later I received a DM from "City and Colour - official". The message said "Hey, I just listened to No Water, No Flowers and it's beautiful. You have such an emotive voice. Made me feel exactly how I want to feel when I listen. Thanks for that. :)".

I thought someone was trolling me. Covers are fun but songwriting is where my heart truly is. That message made me feel so good, it's indescribable. As I said earlier I'm very insecure so getting validation from one of my songwriting heroes was pretty cool. I know Dallas is a human like all of us and he also has his own insecurities but I've looked up to him for so long. We kept chatting for a bit and decided to meet up next time I was in Toronto.

A couple weeks later I went back to Toronto to go see a John Mayer concert. I texted Dallas and we went for sushi. I was very nervous. We hung out and talked about songwriting, the music industry and all sorts of things. We have so much in common and we are friends now. He invited me to sing "Hello I'm In Delaware" on stage with him at Montreal's biggest music festival called Osheaga.

Truthfully, I couldn't even afford tickets so I was extra thrilled, hah! I had never performed in front of so many people. I was so nervous that I don't really remember the performance itself. I just remember his guitar being really loud. I'm glad it's on video! We kept in touch and I sent him updates on the production of my record. I sent him demos and shared songs. That's when he heard "Someone" and suggested he sing on it. So Dallas Green took the time to record some vocals for MY SONG. Unreal.

Someone video

antiMusic: Tell us how you assemble your songs. Do you write when inspiration strikes regardless of your surroundings or do you have to be in your dedicated space?

Genevieve: I definitely have to be in my own space. I sometimes get random words or ideas that I write down in my phone but I always end up writing the actual song at home with my guitar. I still don't fully understand how my songwriting works. I don't have much control over it. It just sort of happens.

antiMusic: I detect a bit of Nashville in a few of your songs. Particularly "Hostage" and "The Tide" mainly due to the guitars. Is there a subtle country streak running underneath your material?

Genevieve: Haha, yes! Totally. I love country and Americana music. My latest obsessions are Kacey Musgraves and Natalie Hemby. I just went to Nashville for the first time last fall. I can't wait to go back and hopefully play a concert there! That's the dream.

antiMusic: What's the story of Genevieve Racette? What is your musical background and how long have you been pursuing music professionally?

Genevieve: I have been releasing music under my own name professionally since 2014. Before that, I was in an a capella group for a few years. We toured a bunch and it was an awesome experience. I grew up in a very creative and musical environment so I have been singing my whole life. I studied music for four years after high school. I learned a lot about my instrument (voice) and I studied music theory, music history, etc. Those were great years.

I decided to record and release a few songs of my own in 2014 not really knowing what the heck I was doing. One thing led to another and here we are today: I'm releasing my third full-length record and I am working with a beautiful team of women on making this release a success. Women from Montreal, Toronto and Nashville. I am grateful.

antiMusic: You've mentioned your appreciation of Dallas Green. What other artists contributed to your musical mentorship?

Genevieve: So many artists! Some of my all-time favorites are Norah Jones, John Mayer, Phoebe Bridgers, Kacey Musgraves, Lennon Stella, Shania Twain and of course Celine Dion (she's our pride and joy here in Quebec.)

antiMusic: Your voice draws the listener in so intently. While your music is such that it would translate to bigger stages, I can only imagine that there is a certain magic to more intimate settings. What kind of shows do you feel most comfortable participating in?

Genevieve: I actually really love house concerts. I had the opportunity to play a house concert tour in Manitoba right before Covid hit and it was such a success. Being able to tell my stories directly to people is such a blessing. I wouldn't say no to playing bigger shows but small intimate ones are always really special. They are very nerve wrecking though. It's much harder to sing for 30 people than for 30,000! Trust me!

antiMusic: With COVID getting to a manageable level, can we expect a full slate of live shows this year?

Genevieve: I am touring Quebec in March and working on possibly coming to the USA in the fall! Fingers crossed.

Morley and antiMusic thank Genevieve for taking the item to do this interview.

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