Canadian Musician - May/June 2023 | Page 41

She may not have been expecting quick success at an early age , but Lamontagne always had a penchant for writing . She says poetry always came naturally to her , and it was just a matter of being pushed a little bit to realize the words she was writing could easily be put into songs as well . Writing on her own in private journals was one thing , but what has made Lamontagne into a career songwriter , in her view , was linking up with seasoned writers and learning to collaborate .
“ I think what really developed me as a writer was learning how to co-write so young and picking up on skills from established writers such as Rob Wells , who ended up producing my debut album , and Robyn Dell ’ Unto , who ’ s now one of the most sought-after Canadian writers living in Nashville ,” she says . “ I learned stuff from them on how to be more successful and make every session count . And I think that put me way further ahead than if I had been writing on my own this whole time .”
A mindset Lamontagne says hindered her in the beginning was the mentality that every song she wrote had to be a hit . She was able to let go of that , in part because the pandemic lockdowns helped her to break free from those intentions in her sessions . Her thought process was that if she wasn ’ t going to be performing the songs in front of people , her focus should be to make sure she was happy with them herself , and nobody else would ever have to hear
the results of any sessions she didn ’ t want to share them .
“ Since I was able to do that , I have been climbing up the ladder in terms of writing with bigger artists and slowly getting more cuts and more consideration for people to record songs outside of my own artist project ,” she says . “ It ’ s definitely been this whole work in progress since lockdown .”
Coming from a musical background with training in piano and being self-taught on guitar ( though she performs mainly on guitar because it ’ s an easier instrument to carry around ) and having a knack for writing , Lamontagne felt it was natural to marry the two when stepping into the world of songwriting . She prefers to write on piano still , but reaches for a guitar when it ’ s the most readily available instrument in a session .
Lamontagne considers herself an onthe-fly person , meaning if she ’ s not booked in a session , she ’ ll be coming up with song ideas and snippets all the time .
“ I have lots of notes with title ideas , or even just themes of what I think would be a good song idea and lyrics ,” she says , adding with a laugh , “ I have lots of lots of voice recordings in my phone with the shower in the background or a flushing toilet .”
With notes and voice recording apps full of ideas , Lamontagne occasionally has to take a few hours to sit down and organize the potential song leads and says it can be difficult to keep track of all of them , especially when she is working on her own music along with songs for other artists .
“ My main goal right now is to balance out building my career as a songwriter and building my career as an artist ,” she says . “ So , I have decided to take maybe until September , a performing break , so I can really focus on the writing .”
Working at home , Lamontagne has received an Ontario Arts Council grant to help her fund her home studio she ’ s been building .
“ That way I can really get into recording during sessions and recording for artists who are in the US and Europe ,” she explains . “ And then my plan is also to start working as a session musician . It ’ s just all about networking and making more contacts . I am someone who definitely struggles with the big picture of the future . I definitely want to be able to work my way up to having a publishing deal where I can have more help because one of the things I deal with is that I have chronic illness . So , I do have like limited energy especially for communication .”
On navigating her work while dealing with chronic illness , Lamontagne says she has been focusing on the people who support her through the struggles . She rarely reschedules sessions but prefers to work with writers who allow her to do so if she needs to , understanding that she ’ ll work better , and the session will be more successful if she takes the rest time she needs .
“ Those are the people I ’ ve been choos-