Enjoy her love affair with dance music and her musical love letter to Montreal
Rêve relives her Cinderella moment.
The 28-year-old Montreal musician earned her first Juno Award nomination and first win at last year’s awards, following the huge success of her single online. CTRL + ALT + DEL. Less than a year later, she was back again, this time to Halifax for the March 24 event. Her first album, Saturn returnreceived a nomination for pop album of the year, pitting her against front-runner — and fellow Quebecer — Charlotte Carradine, as well as Lauren Spencer-Smith and country legend Shania Twain.
CBC News sat down with Rêve to talk about what this comeback means, how she found her love for dance music — and where she learned how to create a hit song.
Your music is defined by its heavy, dance-pop style, but you started out playing piano, trumpet, and flute — basically high school band music. Where did your current sound come from?
So my favorite instrument since I was a child is the piano. I used to drag my Fisher-Price xylophone up in my house and match the notes, and I fell in love with it. When I first started discovering chords, I used to accompany myself in singing, and I never stopped.
I played my fair share of flute in high school, but I was pretty bad. I was singing on the flute in exams, and I totally thought my music teacher wouldn’t notice.
definitely. Call immediately (laughs). So piano was my thing – I played guitar, but piano was still my only true love.
So what attracted you from the piano and band music to the dance tracks on your debut album?
In fact, it’s one of my favorite Montreal stories. I’ve been a music fan ever since I could talk, but one night in Montreal I went out to this club called Velvet. I’ve been to arena shows before, but I’ve never seen a DJ before.
We went to this place, and it’s in the basement of a hotel – like a very old hotel in the Old Port – and you walk in there, and it’s like taxidermy, stone walls, candles.
Then the DJ continues, and I felt something I’d never felt before. It was like being alone in the room, this transcendent feeling, this euphoric feeling. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I was instantly hooked. I fell in love with dancing when I was about 17 or 18, and have had a love affair ever since.
Last year, you took home dance recording of the year, while your friend Preston Pablo won Breakthrough Artist, and Banks and Ranks — who helped produce both albums — won Outstanding Band. Are you still making music together?
definitely. I mean, Preston is like a brother to me. We started our main journey around the same time, with the same people – Banx & Ranx was the glue. And me and Banx & Ranx – they’re like family to me, and they’re my favorite collaborators. They still play a big role – obviously they played a big role on the album, but in the music to come as well, and we’re closer than ever.
Your engineer, Joel Stover, was also nominated for a Junos Award for his work on your album. Did you all celebrate together?
Yeah, we had a nice moment during the nomination announcement the other day, and I love Joel so much. He was one of the first producers I met when I started coming to Toronto to work on some of my first records, like six years ago. And he worked on (my single) Whitney, Which probably saw 25 copies of production. We stuck with it, and we watched it until the end. So it’s very nice to be able to acknowledge this record together.
You talk and connect with your fans a lot on TikTok. But as an artist signed with Universal Music, your music has now been removed from the app. What is this like for you? How has this changed the way you interact with fans and as an artist?
I mean there are other ways to connect with fans of course. It’s something we all feel, but we’re focused on the next chapter, which is the next tour, the next music.
Is it something you struggle with, and are worried about your music not being out there?
I think it’s a great opportunity for creativity. I think we’re clearly looking at the solution, but I think it’s a challenge, and I’m looking forward to the creative challenge of finding other ways to navigate this time.
You won Best Dance Recording last year, and now you’re back with a Pop Album nomination Saturn return. Do you see yourself as a pop star?
I feel more secure in myself and my art than ever before, and for it to be recognized as my debut album, I put a lot of effort into it. It’s a love letter to dance. A love letter to pop, a love letter to the city I’m from, Montreal. And to be honored this year for a whole body of work is very special.
How did your family feel when they saw you reach such heights?
It was so cool. They have always been very supportive. I grew up, as I said, in a very musical family. I think in the beginning when your child says, “I want to quit school to run away and become a rock star,” it’s kind of a parent’s worst nightmare.
But now, you know, being able to be at the Junos and see everything that’s going on and hear the songs on the radio – they’ve always been supportive, but now I think they kind of understand it and feel a little more at ease.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.