Interview: Canadian Geneviève Racette on “Satellite” and being a bilingual artist

Credit: Eva Maude TC

How the pandemic and personal changes ensured that difficult third album wasn’t.

Canada has been the birthplace of some notable artists who have helped inform americana over the years, maintaining a musical identity that is separate from that of the United States. Geneviève Racette is one of the new generation of Canadian singer-songwriters following in that established tradition, and coming from Québec, she is a bilingual artist. Third albums can prove to be a difficult proposition for some artists as they struggle to find something new to say, but with her new album, Satellite’, she has written 9 new songs that were inspired by recent changes in her life. Americana UK’s Martin Johnson caught up with Geneviève Racette to discuss how much her family and culture have influenced her career and songwriting, how she managed to maintain creativity and record ‘Satellite’ during the pandemic, and how she managed to get her hero Dallas Green to appear on her album.

How are you? How is Montreal now the pandemic is receding? 

We are just opening up again! Finally! I know this sounds very negative, but I’ve been disappointed so many times these past two years that it’s hard for me to even get genuinely excited about events anymore. Part of me is anxious that things are going to close up again honestly. Fingers crossed.

You are a bilingual artist, for the benefit of our UK readers can you outline what that means as a Canadian artist and citizen? 

Sure. Québec is the only province in Canada that is primarily Francophone. We have a specific culture that is very much different from the rest of the country. Many people in Québec speak both French and English but the desire to preserve the French language is very present here. My first language is French, but I grew up in a bilingual family which is why I write in both languages.

How much did your upbringing influence your choice of career? 

My career wasn’t even a choice really. I always knew I would be a musician. I grew up in a very creative environment. My whole family was obsessed with music! My mother is a classically trained pianist, my father plays guitar, my sister sings and plays the piano and my brother plays the guitar as well. There was never another path for me; it was always music. 

‘Satellite’ is your third album, how does it reflect your artistic development? 

Satellite is the first record I officially co-produced. I was involved in every single step of the way. I am so proud of that. I truly opened my heart and poured it into these songs. I feel like I am releasing my diary to the world.

Is ‘Satellite’ a pandemic album, and how did you record it? 

My best friend and producer François-Pierre and I worked on demos for a really long time. We recorded my guitar and vocals for each song and worked on different arrangements. We tried all sorts of different things and had fun with it. We probably did that for about a year. We had to take some breaks when the studio closed up because of COVID. That was really frustrating. I felt like the record was the only thing I had left. I wasn’t feeling super great during those breaks. Once we had something we liked, we sent those demos out to the musicians, and we recorded the real thing.

How did you get Dallas Green to appear on ‘Satellite’, and what does it mean to you? 

Back in 2019, I covered one of his songs on Instagram. He saw it and shared it. He then listened to my record ‘No Water, No Flowers’ and sent me a message to tell me he loved it. I was so honoured. I still am! I’m a HUGE City and Colour and Alexisonfire fan. We kept in touch, and he invited me to sing at Osheaga: Montréal’s biggest music festival. No big deal! We sang his song Hello, I’m in Delaware’ in front of 35 000 people. It was amazing. We kept in touch, and I sent him some demos for Satellite in 2020. He fell in love with my song Someone and asked me if he could sing on it. I said yes. DUH.

What is your approach to songwriting, are you disciplined or is it as the muse takes you? 

I have absolutely no control over my songwriting. It just sort of happens! Most times it happens when I’m playing guitar. A melody comes to me with a couple of words, and I just go from there. It’s hard to explain.

Third albums can be problematic, how easy was it for you to come up with the songs on ‘Satellite’? 

It wasn’t problematic at all actually. I went through a lot of big changes in my personal life, so I had many things to write about.

How personal are the songs on the album? 

Super super personal. As mentioned above I feel like I’m releasing my diary to the world. I’m okay with it though. I’m owning it.

You released two tracks from ‘Satellite’, what has the response been? 

It went really well! It’s always nerve-wracking to release new songs. The response has been pretty incredible. The songs have accumulated hundreds of thousands of streams already.

Do you have a view of who the audience is for ‘Satellite? 

I believe it’s people who are connected with their emotions who relate to what I’m singing about.

How important is the US market for Canadian artists? 

All markets are important. Music is universal and I want to share my songs with as many people as possible!

What do you think are the unique aspects of Canadian music? 

Canada is a HUGE country! I think what’s unique about Canadian music is that it is so diverse.

Who are your favourite artists, the ones who have inspired you to develop your own music? 

John Mayer, Norah Jones, Céline Dion, Phoebe Bridgers, Kacey Musgraves, City and Colour.

What do you hope 2022 will bring? 

I hope everyone stays healthy and I hope we get to play many shows in Canada, the USA and maybe make some friends in the UK so we can come to play there too!

At AUK, we like to share music with our readers, so can you share which artists, albums, or tracks are currently top of your personal playlist? 

Michaela Anne’s new track Who You Are brings me to tears. It’s so beautiful.

Finally, do you want to say anything to our UK readers? 

Thanks for the support!

Geneviève Racette’s ‘Satellite’ is out now as an independent release.


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About Martin Johnson 241 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.

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