Ingrid St-Pierre was only 17 when she left her hometown of Cabano, in the Lower St-Lawrence region, and relocated to Rimouski. Then, after spending a year in Québec City to attend Université Laval, the young woman backpacked for a while and landed in Trois-Rivières to finish her psychology degree. That is where she discovered a small place that was as intriguing as it was welcoming: Café Morgane. Unbeknownst to her at the time, that is exactly where her singer-songwriter career would ultimately take off.
“It was the happiest coincidence of my life, she chimes. If I have a musical career today, it’s because of a friend of mine who kept spurring me on; she insisted that I meet with the owner of the place. So I did and I played a few of my songs for him, even though I didn’t really know how to play. I didn’t have any kind of musical notion; I could barely accompany myself. But despite it all, he hired me and that is where I learned most of what I know, every weekend for five years. I also learned a lot of songs, as well as learning how to present myself on stage and engage the audience. For some, it’s the bar scene that was their school, for me it was this café.”
Armed with her newfound confidence, she moved to Montréal, participated in the Ma première Place des Arts contest and launched a delicate first album titled Ma petite mam’zelle de chemin, in 2011. Ingrid managed to seduce both the press and the public with her softly melancholic and pleasantly naive songs that are both ethereal and joyous. Then, last fall, she launched L’escapade, a second, more personal album with much more elaborated orchestral arrangements. That album, coproduced by Louis Legault (Dumas), surprises with its tangential love stories. One this is clear, the young lady has bloomed into a woman. “The first album was made of songs that I’d written many years ago, some of them almost 10. Needless to say the lyrics on many of them felt a little outdated. On L’escapade, I wrote all of the songs in a one-year period, so the content is much more relevant and introspective. For my first album, I’d written most songs with only a simple piano/voice arrangement. On this one, I could already hear bolder arrangements. I also allowed myself to use instruments I wanted to hear such as Erhu, the Chinese violin, and brass. I explored a lot deeper because I knew deep down that these songs would be able to bear heftier arrangements. I also felt that my voice had matured, so I also explored that aspect. All in all it was a wonderful adventure,” remembers the 27 year old chanteuse.
With songs titled “Les avalanches” and “Feu de Bengale”, Ingrid has also demonstrated clearly that her writing has matured as well. Always the storyteller, she explains that her writing method is somewhat peculiar. “It’s kind of weird; I write in spurts, in phases. Sometimes I sit down at the piano and I record melodies on the fly on my iPhone of even on voicemail! I do that all the time. Once I’ve accumulated a lot of melodies, it feels harder to figure out which lyrics to pair with which music. What I truly enjoy is having an idea for a story, having an outline of where that song will be going, then sitting down at the piano and finishing that song. It’s always something magical.
The Shrew and the Shrewd
Even though she was deeply influenced by the music of Françoise Hardy, Richard Desjardins, Georges Moustaki, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, her biggest musical heartthrob came from her discovery of a New Brunswick-based artist. “When I was a teenager, I was watching TV and I heard this song… I was flabbergasted, I could not believe how strong the words were and how unique the voice was that sang them. I listened to the song snippet over and over for a whole week, trying to discover who that was. I finally found out that it was Marie-Jo Thério. I became a die hard fan because she showed me I could create my own musical universe, a world that is mine and is unlike any other. Her music proved that it was OK to do that and follow your will,” she reminisces.
“I’m still a beginner at this. I try to broaden my horizons as much as I can.”
Everything to Learn
Besides her many live dates and a trip to Europe this year, Ingrid is busy with many a project. A fan of film scores, she dreams of composing film music, as she dreams of collaborating with other artists and, eventually even, publish a book of novels. After writing a letter that was published in the Mille mots d’amour collection of short stories, Ingrid admits she’s growing increasingly fond of writing her stories. “I realized I loved writing in a form other than songs. I accumulated a whole bunch of story ideas and I was wondering how I would be able to condense of of it in three and a half minutes. In the end, I tried writing them as novels and I loved the experience. It’s a great source of inspiration. “I’m still a beginner at this. I try to broaden my horizons as much as I can. I don’t take anything for granted. I still have a lot to learn, but I enjoying learning new stuff everyday.”