Winnipeg singer-songwriter Renee Lamoureux releases her sophomore album Dare to Be You at the West End Cultural Centre this Saturday, April 23. Stylus sat down with Renee to talk about the new album.
Stylus: How long have you been making music and how did you get started?
Renee Lamoureux: I’ve been making music professionally for 20 years. As a young person, I started singing when I was six in church choir, and entering songwriting competitions, etc. I first started singing in the French community, because I’m from Île-des-Chênes, and so I was always involved with anything in St Boniface. When I was 19 or 20, I met Keith Macpherson and we formed a group together, Keith and Renee. The bulk of my music career has been with that duo. I released my first solo album in 2012, and now this one, Dare to be You.
Stylus: How does this one compare to your last?
RN: I Fall for You had a lot to do with heartbreak and love songs. I think with every album, for me personally, I’m writing about things that are going on in my life at the time, so that one was very much focused on finding love. This one is called Dare to Be You, and the message is completely different. Like the title, it’s about believing in yourself and chasing your dreams and being your best you. It has a much more inspirational message behind it.
Stylus: How did you arrive at that concept?
RN: It took a while. With every album I write 30 or 40 songs and pick the best 10. Even with the Keith and Renee material, it’s always been that way. With this one I was asking myself, what’s the reason to put out another album? I wanted to make sure that there was a reason for it, and the songs that I started to write about, that concept was seeping in here and there, and that was what was getting me excited and motivating me and I continued with that theme. And I think it has to do with what I surround myself with in life, and the people around me. I also teach yoga, so I have a lot of parts in my life that is about [believing in yourself], and I have this massive supportive family who have always believed in me.
At one point I came to a crossroads where I was like, do I continue doing music? I was watching everyone around me having their families. It’s not to say I can’t do that, but I had to ask is, is my emphasis still music? And the one thing I had to realize is I’m just always writing. It’s therapeutic, it’s part of who I am. The title came after the fact – I didn’t know what I was going to call it but I thought, oh ya that’s really nice and sums it up nicely. One person I’m inspired by here in the city is Kal Barteski – I just love her social media, and I love her way of life. That played a part too.
Stylus: What was the timeline for this album?
RN: Over two years ago I approached Murray Pulver. He produced my first album and I really enjoyed the process working with him, he’s so easy going, and we’re good friends. I started to write with him – Keith and Renee had just put an album out last year, so I was working with that too . . of course it always helps when the grants come in [laughs]. When that happened I was like, ok now I can continue and I can do this. Everyone in Manitoba is so supportive of the arts, so after I had that green light it was a lot easier to finish that project and everything landed at the right time.
Stylus: Would you describe yourself as someone who’s interested in soul-seeking or self-development, considering the title of the album and your work in yoga?
RN: Ya, I think I’m soul-searching . . . I want to say every human is kind of like that, but I speak for myself. Yoga, I’ve been practicing it for 10 years now and when I found it I thought, ‘Wow, this totally speaks to me.’ I think by nature, and maybe a lot of artists are like this, but I tend to be anxious. As an artist, you don’t get a paycheck every two weeks so you always have to push your business and work hard so sometimes that takes a toll on everything. When I especially discovered hot yoga, it takes all your worries away and it brings you back to being grounded and balanced and knowing what you want, and everything’s clear. So I practiced for a lot of years, and never thought I would teach it at all. Keith was the one who encouraged me to teach!
Stylus: How does your solo work compare to your work with Keith and Renee?
RN: I think it’s different in every way. Even performing onstage; because you’re two people so when you’re writing an album it’s two minds and two people with ideas, so there’s lots of sharing, the same as onstage, you’re sharing a stage and stories. By yourself, there’s something liberating about it but also nerve-wracking, and you’re totally on your own. You’re supposed to be in charge and you need to know what you want. That was one thing I noticed and I had an ‘aha’ moment. I performed onstage and was like, ‘this is a physical workout’. Two people are sharing vocals, and I find that at the end of it I feel like I’ve completely worked out my body. But I enjoy both, performing solo and as part of a duo.
Stylus: On this album, what instruments are you playing?
RN: I always play a little guitar, and sing and this Saturday I think I’m going to play piano on a couple songs . . .
Stylus: What does Saturday mean to you?
RN: Now I’m feeling relaxed. I was a little nervous like 2 weeks ago but it’s all falling into place . . . I’m really looking forward to it, and my family is coming. I always feel protected and safe when my family is in the audience. And playing in Winnipeg, I always feel good playing here.
The Dare to be You album release is happening this Saturday, April 23 at the West End Cultural Center (586 Ellice Ave). Doors at 7:15, show at 8. Renee will be joined by Those Guys and Courtney Devon. Purchase tickets online.