Independent singer-songwriter Gabrielle Papillon truly loves making music and sharing it with others. A well-rounded individual, Papillon is both a scholar and an artist.
After her first album was released in 2001, Papillon stepped away from music for eight years to focus on academics.
“I always dabbled [in music] but I was really focused on writing academically. The songs weren’t coming to me. I just really needed to do something else,” she says. “I stepped away from music and actually thought I was going to follow the life of a scholar and get a PhD and teach in university.”
However, after completing her bachelor of arts and Masters at Concordia University in Montreal, Papillon eased herself into the Montreal music scene. “I had my first show in maybe eight years on January 31 of 2009,” she reminisces.
For Papillon, entering the music scene was the easy part. “A week after I defended my thesis, music was in my head again. Writing was really kind of effortless to me,” she says. “The hard part comes now. I’ve been doing all this work. Now what? Getting into [music] is the easy part—keeping going is the hard part.”
Due to her continuous drive and her talent, Papillon has forged on and has been receiving positive feedback at recent shows. In particular, she often plays at house concerts, where she enjoys interacting with audience members.
“What I love about [house concerts] is that they’re really intimate,” Papillon explains. “People are just there to hear the music. [The audience] always feel so connected to you because of the stories you tell.”
To support these concerts and a lifestyle full of travelling, Papillon takes advantage of a special program Via Rail has for musicians. In exchange for two performance sets on the train, Papillon is able to travel where she needs to go.
“It’s like an exchange of services,” she explains.
Performing on the train also has ancillary benefits. “It’s the only scenario where I get to sing cover songs,” Papillon confides. “I would never sing a cover of “Hallelujah” during one of my shows.”
Home, however, is where this singer’s heart is. After growing up in Winnipeg and living in Montreal as well as in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Papillon says, “I definitely call the East Coast home now. I spend a lot of time in New Glasgow when I’m off the road, where my parents live.”
Regardless, she is still attached to Montreal. She adds that she cannot forget her roots, saying, “I’m Francophone and that part of my life is still important.”
Papillon is extremely grateful for the shows she has played and the people she has collaborated with.
“The Canadian music scene is pretty great,” she says, adding she feels particularly fortunate to have shared the stage with Amelia Curran and says she would love to play with artists like Feist and Dan Mangan in the future.
Gabrielle Papillon plays the London Music Club with Kim Kempe and Allison Brown tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8.