The singer/songwriter known as BEYRIES is a classic example of pouring your entire life into your debut album. When Landing is released on Feb. 24 through Bonsound Records, it will mark not only artistic triumph for the Montreal-born artist, but a personal one as well.
Although music had always been a part of BEYRIES’ life, it did not become her focus until she survived two bouts with cancer in her late twenties. Following that dark period, she began confronting her emotions in songwriting as part of her recovery, and her work eventually caught the ear of producer Alex McMahon, also of Montreal electro-jazz outfit Plaster.
Together they gradually built a haunting collection of piano-based ballads that highlight BEYRIES’ smoky voice and heart-wrenching melodies. Throughout the creative process, she also had to get accustomed to performing live. After her initial sessions with McMahon in 2015, she took to the road on her own while landing opening slots for the likes of Martha Wainwright and Groenland, while television viewers got introduced to her through song placements in shows such as CBC’s This Life and CTV’s Saving Hope.
With the release of Landing, BEYRIES is now poised to make an indelible first impression on Canada as a whole. She will be playing mostly in Quebec throughout the spring, but will launch the album in Toronto on Feb. 28 with a show at The Burdock.
This album is clearly a labour of love. How long was the creative process from start to finish?
I wrote the first song in 2009 and the last around February 2016.
At what point did you feel you had enough songs to make a record?
When I signed with my record company Bonsound in early 2016, I had already recorded five songs. I had many demos and unfinished songs so I sat down with Alex McMahon and my manager Emmanuelle Girard. They helped me choose from the list.
What song on the record means the most to you and why?
That’s a tough question. They all have a story and a special meaning, but when I wrote “Alone” it was definitely one of the most difficult times of my life—a real turning point for me. “Soldier”is also special. It was the first song I wrote on my grandmother's piano, completely free of self-judgment. When I write, I sometimes think back to when my sister and I were kids and my mom made us choose a record to fall asleep to. I remember listening to Vivaldi, traditional Peruvian music, Cat Stevens, Harmonium... she had great taste. I wish I could have written any song on Harmonium’s greatest album, l’Heptade.
You're a multiple cancer survivor. What words do you have for others coping with the disease?
Take one day at the time, because every day is different and full of surprises. Looking at what I have instead of what I don't helped me a lot when I was suffering. I remember getting out of the hospital after a chemo treatment and thinking to myself, ‘At least I can go back home and sleep in my bed,’ while some people had to stay at the hospital for weeks.
How are you feeling about performing the album live?
I love it. Sharing these songs means a lot for me, even if I'm sometimes intimidated by the crowd. And most of the time, I feel supported by the audience when I sing to them. It's an amazing feeling and a special way to connect.The first time I ever performed live, I felt very lucky to have so many good friends who filled the room with encouragement and love.