|Annie Marleau Interview: by Sandman|
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 IndieMusicPeople.com 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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