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Annie Marleau Interview: by Sandman

Annie Marleau 

I'm quite sure that by now most everyone has noticed the higher than normal frequency of hot artists that come streaking through the atmosphere and come crashing onto the charts and stations on our site. One of the more recent of these is Annie Marleau, a Canadian artist who has exploded onto the scene! Part of Annie's secret must lie in her strength for writing a strong, simple, and memorable hook. The fact that she has become quite accomplished at doing this has earned her the honor of having not one or two songs being hits, but rather four or five songs being very popular on the charts! A huge accomplishment for any artist. Another of Annie's strengths in building a top notch sound is her dedication to the music. She lives, eats, and breathes it! Like a highly disciplined athlete she gets after her music and squeezes out the very most from each track. There's no better way to the top of one's game than total dedication and believe me this girl is on it! I think after reading this interview our viewers and listeners will be quite surprised to learn a few things about Annie and her most interesting background. Though some may think she might have taken the long way home to get here, let us be delighted that this talented artist made it here! Without further ado, let's get inside the head of Annie Marleau for a few minutes and see what golden treasures we might uncover! Hey Annie................

1) Tell us some of your earliest memories that you remember when music first caught your ear and interest and you thought it was something just a little more special.

Beginning from the young age of about 3 or 4 I always loved putting on shows in our neighbourhood with other kids on our street. I was not only in the shows but I also directed and choreographed them. I was a natural performing and a very determined little girl. The shows always involved dancing, singing and acting! In fact as a child, it was a dream of mine to be in musicals. I loved old Elvis movies, Shirley Temple, Donny and Marie Osmond, the Jacksons, and I'm ashamed to say but the Lawrence Welk show. My Father played the guitar and piano and he and I used to sing together. I always had a strong sense of music but never really knew what to do with it.

2) I know you have an extensive background in the arts, specifically ballet. Please tell us all about your background and how you arrived at the place you're at today.

Well, when I was 3 years old my mother enrolled me in ballet. I really loved dancing and as the year passed by I began to take tap dance and jazz as well. In fact, tap was my favorite form of dance and it was plan to use it when I was older to be in musicals. Over the years many of my dance teachers would tell my parents that I had a lot of talent and that they should send me somewhere professional to train. When I was 12 years old, my friends and I did an audition in Sudbury, Ontario for the National Ballet School. At the time, I was not a big fan of ballet but I figured since everyone else was auditioning then I should go along for the fun of it! My teacher gave us fair warning not to expect to be accepted into the school as it was a very difficult and rare occurrence. Needless to say another girl and I from our school were asked to attend their summer school where they would examine us further and decide whether we were good enough to stay on for the full year. I was in shock and I think I lost a few friends that day! I was accepted for the year and for 7 years after that. The other girl was only accepted for one year and then they let her go the following year. I was the only person to ever graduate from northern Ontario. Upon graduation I was accepted for 2 1/2 years with the National Ballet of Canada (dance company) but due to a chronic hip and back injury which began in 9th grade I was force to end my short lived career and the one thing I loved. Life as I knew it seemed over when I stopped dancing. I tried to stay involved in it by teaching but over time I realized it seemed to frustrate me more. Being involved in something you like to do yourself but can't, is a cruel alternative. After successfully completing 3 university degrees my B.A. in Dance Theory and French, my M.A. (masters) in Canadian Dance History and finally my B.Ed in general Arts I decided to teach academics for a few years. During that time on my drive to and from work, I listened to the radio a lot and began creating songs in my mind. The memories from my childhood dream of singing began to creep back into my thoughts. The only piece that was missing from the puzzle is my understanding of how to sing properly. Then I met Ray Lyell, a Canadian singer/songwriter who's song "Carry Me" was a hit in the late 1980's. He helped me understand all concepts of both the physical and cognitive understanding of singing. With this new found knowledge I began to write music and after many years of searching I felt alive again! Hence the title of my debut CD :) While I was taking vocal lessons and teaching, I also completed the Second City improv course in Toronto, which included a live performance upon completion.

3) Is there anything that you draw on from your past experiences as both a teacher and a dancer that helps you presently in songwriting, recording, performing, etc.?

My experiences in dance and comedy improv at Toronto Second City have really helped me feel at ease on stage. I performed in front of thousands when I danced and I'm used to working under pressure. My training has also helped me take a professional approach to my performance as well. As far as songwriting, my education and all my years of writing

papers have helped me I'm sure. Despite the fact that I have a pretty solid knowledge of the English language, my lyrics are simple and straight forward. I feel that I can reach the most people that way, young and old, intelligent or not. I know how to write in a more abstract manner but I don't feel by "confusing" the average person that I will get my message across. I hope that makes sense! lol

4) Please tell us how big your pile of unfinished songs is and have you salvaged mny of these? Or are you one of those rare breed of artists that finishes virtually everything you start?

I have a journal full of lyrics or titles that I have begun but haven't had time to get back to. Not only that, I have just as many melodies recorded by humming the tune into my small digital recorder. I will get to them when the time is right! I am a firm believer that time is everything and if you're patient and you keep pushing forward things fall into place when it's time :)

5) Whenever you have a free day tell us exactly how you like to spend it. What other hobbies or interests do you have when you want to get your mind off of music for awhile?

Honestly for the past few years and especially lately I eat breath and sleep it. I'M ADDICTED!! If I want to relax I like to exercise, go out for a nice dinner, go to see a band play or rent a movie. I believe if you want to success at something you have to put your entire heart into it.

6) OK, here's my standard get in the artist's mind question. What do you think it is that drives you to write songs? Is it an emotion, a story, an incident, a need? What drives Annie Marleau to write songs? Do you have any limits on what subject matter you would use to write songs? Some artists are totally political, some won't touch it. Some write love or angst songs, others think that is ho hum. Is there some favorite topic you find yourself writing about again and again?

To be honest there are many aspects which drive me to write songs. For instance, songs such as Look to the Sun, Run, Sensitive, Spreading Lies and Alone began with an emotion over an incident that happened to someone else which I felt and could empathize with and I had a NEED to write about. The lyrics for the chorus and the melodies for all the songs came to be within minutes. It's as if this strong emotion comes over me and I feel the song deep within me and it just comes out. I hope that makes sense. Then there are other songs which I have written that are really just for fun and have no real deep meaning such as Addicted and Move On. Some have a message behind them but are not really deep such as Hypnotized and Vanity. My subject matter has no limits and some of my songs have a "hidden" message such as "Alive" which is about life really, but also about facing our demise and thinking about how we are living our lives. Because one day we will die and we may need to answer for our behaviour. I think my favorite subject to write about are songs of hope and understand. Songs that I feel people can relate to in their daily lives and not necessarily very deep and complicated. I also like to write about questioning our existence on this earth and not getting caught up with the vain materialistic, self-centered world we live in. It seems many people avoid thinking about the future and just live in the here and now. They try to avoid reality by hiding behind technology, i.e. TV, radio, cell phones, video games etc...I have many new songs for my second CD surrounding this subject matter.

7) If I went over to Annie's CD player right now and turned it on tell me what CD's I might be spinning.

Anything by U2! I just love their music and their lyrics even more. I hope one day to be half the songwriter Bono and his band are. I also admire what he is doing as far as raising awareness on poverty in the world and working hard to bring peace. His popularity has provided him with the power to help change the world. If only more icons could follow in

his footsteps. I also love a Canadian artist by the name of Jann Arden, she has many of the same philosophies that I do.

8) What do you find the more difficult process, writing the songs and getting them exactly how you want them or getting them recorded exactly as you want them?

Without a doubt getting them recorded exactly as I want them. I know what I hear in my head but it doesn't always translate when explaining it to my musicians. In the end I enjoy the recording process much more than the writing though, because sometimes searching for the perfect words to get a strong message across can be next to impossible.

9) If Annie were headed out to a concert tonight she might be going to see..................

Sheryl Crow, U2, Peter Gabriel, Cyndi Lauper, Jann Arden, Eric Clapton.

10) What are some of the differences between Annie Marleau of today compared to the Annie Marleau of five years ago?

Annie Marleau of 5 years ago was a school teacher and wasn't singing or writing music. Five years ago I was beginning to think about taking vocal lessons and perhaps try and sing a little.....Yes, I have come a LONG way. I was teaching academics and feeling that life was passing me by and that someday when I was old and perhaps sitting in a wheelchair I would say to myself...I wonder if I could have been a singer....So instead of thinking about it, I began taking action and haven't looked back since....I would say I am a completely different person and anyone who sees me cannot believe the sparkle they see in my eyes and how happy I seem.

11) Please tell us your thoughts about the state of commercial music today. What are your thoughts about the huge Indie music push of the last couple of years?

I think it's sad that most of the commercial artists today cannot sing or write their own music. The focus is on having very young artists who look good but aren't mature enough to handle the pressure nor have they lived life long enough to write deep lyrics. I am very pleased about the huge Indie music push and feel that I am coming into the music business at a good time.

11) Do you think a lot more of the public is perhaps discovering Indie music and/or becoming fed up with the state of commercial music?

I think people are tired of the same old sound. They are fed up of hearing the same sounding voice with every artist and are looking for music and artists that aren't contrived. They are searching for REAL music they can relate to which may not include vocal "aerobics" by the artist, but rather that has a pure heartfelt tone. As much as images of perfect people and perfect sounding voices have been fabricated by the media, at the end of the day people want something real that they can relate to. Something that's pure of heart.

12) What are some of your pet peeves that are a sure way to get on the wrong side of you or for certain irritate you?

My pet peeves are people who think they are perfect lol People who lack humility I guess, because we always have something to learn. People who kiss ass because I can see right through them, and women who use their sexuality to get something. People who crunch or eat too loud.

13) What are some of your favorite artists either past or present that you feel may have influenced your music and your sound?

Marie Osmond and Judy Garland were the first female role models that I can remember who began to stir an interest in music. What I think I liked most about them, especially Marie is that they both had class and they seemed like nice down to earth people. I LOVED Elvis and was devastated when he died. My mother asked me to sit down before she broke the news to me lol As far as my music and/or sound, I think Jann Arden, Alanis

Morissette (only a little),Shania Twain (vocally), U2, the Eagles, Avril Lavign, Sarah McLachlan (all Canadian women lol) and Peter Gabriel have all had an impact. I also love Three Doors Down, Incubus and Creed. It's so difficult to tell where it all came from, but I definitely have my own sound. Some of my music was co-written by Jeff Veltri who also plays guitar on the CD. His influence has definitely been a big part of my sound as well as my producer/drummer Jeff Eden. Jeff Veltri has been greatly influenced by 70's Rock including the Who, the Eagles, the Guess Who and Led Zepplin among many others. So my sound is a real combination of new and old.

14) Are you a news informed person? Do you stay informed of world events? What are your greatest concerns/worries about the future of mankind and the planet? Do you have a good or bad feeling about the future in general?

I have to admit that I avoid the news as much as possible but at the same time, I always stay current on what's going on. Too much news in one day can be depressing. My greatest concern is for the children not only for the 30,000 that die in Africa everyday from hunger, but the ones who are orphaned, abused, and neglected. They are the future and if they are mistreated and unloved the world will be a very scary place to live in. As far as the future is concerned, I always try and keep a positive outlook and I also believe that together we can achieve anything.

15) What's your most special childhood memory?

My most special childhood memories are times spent with my family! Summers swimming in the backyard pool and playing with my brother and sister and winters skating on the rink which my dad made for us with lights and even music playing :)

16) If you had a simple daily motto that keeps you going it would be..........?

I have a few but the one that has helped me be where I am today is from a Garth Brooks song: "Life is not tried if it's merely survived, if you're standing outside the fire"

My motto is: Treat everyday like it's an opportunity to get that one step closer to reaching your goal!

At the same time, my other motto is: Treat everyone kindly even though they don't always return the favor. Do it just because it's the right thing to do and also because it makes you feel good.

17) Tell us maybe what inspired the song "Vanity?" Is that a statement to a certain someone or is that more of a general statement about the way things are in our society nowadays?

Vanity is about how things are in our society and as I grow older it seems to get worse. It used to be if you were born with beauty then that was your gift. Now people buy beauty, but is it REALLY beauty?? Also, the pressure on women in particular to look young for their age and have perfect bodies, especially after birth, what's up with that?? In my opinion it's an impossible task and I needed to write about it in a humorous and upbeat manner.

18) If Annie were sitting down to her very favorite dinner tonight it would be.........?

Prime rib, horseradish, sautéed veggies and glass of red Cabernet Sauvignon! Perfection :)

19) If all goes well and you stay in step with your future plans and goals, where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself having released at least one or two more CDs, hearing my songs on the radio, performing concerts and MOST importantly using my influence and money to help the less fortunate. It's difficult for me to type what I just did because I believe in humility but it's what I envision and what I want to happen :)

20) Do you have any embarrassing moments from onstage that you might like to share? C'mon, there must be one or two!

Not yet but I'm sure I will.

21) What was the last good book you read?

The last good book I read was a few years ago because I never get through an entire book since my attention span is not so good these days. It's called "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach............?

22) The hardest year ever for Annie Marleau was...?

The hardest year ever for me was the year I gave birth to my son and had postpartum depression for two years :(......Life as I knew it was over, and I became a very unhappy secluded person. My entire world fell apart and I never thought I would be happy again. This is why I am so determined in what I do, because I now have my life back and I am living it to the fullest.

23) Do you believe in...

1) Ghosts? no

2) Luck? no

3) Psychics? no

4) Superstition? no

5) Destiny? yes

6) Bigfoot? no

7) UFO's? no

8) The Muse? no

OK, now for my faves and either/or..

1) Fave season of the year? spring

2) Vanilla or Chocolate? chocolate

3) Electric or acoustic guitar? acoustic

4) Pink or Black? black

5) Recording studio or live stage? live stage

6) A good book or a good movie? good movie

7) Coffee or Tea? coffee

8) Steak or Salad? salad

9) Red or White wine? red

10) Fave dessert? pecan pie

11) Fave color? purple