Singer/songwriter Roxanne Potvin always loved music, but she first had aspirations of hitting the stage in dramatic fashion. The gifted, Montreal-based artist performs May 23rd at The Olive.
As mentioned, although she grew up in a home where there was plenty of music to enjoy, she originally had a passion for acting. But then in her mid-teens, she started penning a few of her own tunes, and gradually that penchant for acting turned into a desire to perform her own tunes.
It’s proven to be successful path for the engaging singer, who has also landed a couple of Juno Award nominations along the way as well.
She’s recorded with John Hiatt, Daniel Lanois, Colin Linden, Bruce Cockburn, Wayne Jackson, Bob Babbitt, Dave Mackinon, Steve Dawson, a duet with Colin James and has opened for John Hiatt, Blue Rodeo, Allen Toussaint, the Neville Brothers and the Funk Brothers among many others.
Meanwhile, she’s touring B.C., Alberta and Ontario through May.
“Music was always around me as a kid – lots of it in the house,” she explains during a chat from Vancouver. “I remember from very early on loving music, and getting lost in my dreams listening to albums.” There are pictures of her as a toddler with earphones on, relishing what she’s hearing, she laughs.
“Music was always a companion, but I never saw it as a career option until much later on – when I was about 18. I didn’t sing onstage until I was about that age.”
She was also a huge fan of the Beatles, even as an adolescent – when most of her friends were listening to Nirvana, Hole, Rage Against the Machine and such.
“I would say, can we put a Beatles record on? And they would all look at me funny.”
Potvin opted more often for the oldies – music that her parents had enjoyed – like pop from the 50s and 60s as well.
“I would go in phases – and have (musical) obsessions that would last about a year,” she recalls. “My first big inspiration was the Beatles when I was about 13 or 14. That’s when I discovered the Beatles, was at about that age.
“I also got into the blues around the time I was 15.” She also liked Elvis and Little Richard, and legends like the Everly Brothers as well. “I was always sort of drawn to it – the rock and roll of the 1950s. So when I discovered the blues, I thought, oh that’s where a lot of this stuff comes from! It was kind of a full circle moment there.”
Eventually, when it came time to choosing a career path, she knew acting just wasn’t going to cut it.
“I knew that I wanted to do music.”
She took some lessons over the years in guitar and voice, and ultimately has worked hard to find her own way as a songwriter and an artist.
“That’s when I really cut my teeth, learned electric guitar and also learned to play onstage,” she said. And it’s been a productive period ever since.
A walk through her discography will take listeners on a stylistic journey from blues, R&B and folk on Juno-nominated, Colin Linden-produced The Way it Feels to the soul and pop of No Love for the Poisonous and the keyboard-laden, atmospheric folk and garage rock sounds of Play.
It was after touring Play for about a year that she decided it was time for something a bit different, so she took some time off and headed back to school to study sound engineering. After wrapping up her studies, she picked up her notebook and guitar once again, working away at what is to be her fifth full-length disc.
These days, she sums up her style as roots-pop, and as to the new project, she’s looking at a release sometime in early 2016.
Still at the demo stages, her new songs – she’d like to have about 30 or so done when she heads into the studio – are first person snapshots of life among friends and lovers. The witty garage-folk attitude of Play makes a few appearances and melody is at the forefront, she said.
She has recorded an EP with a few of the songs – only available on the current tour. Fans will have to wait until the new CD comes out to hear the complete selection of tunes.
“I’m super excited and happy to be out here – I tend to not sleep a lot on tour because I’m so excited. Everything is fun – I love being on tour, seeing different places and meeting different people. And I totally feel that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like it’s my place.”