Genevieve Charbonneau’s latest album started in a friend’s basement studio with a pile of B-sides and ended in a state-of-the-art facility with a collection of songs she had been saving for her “next big production.”
The Cowichan Valley-based singer-songwriter originally intended to record the album with just guitar and vocals and release it online. She was nearly done the project when she played one of the songs for Jack Connelly, music teacher at Shawnigan Lake School, who after offering to fix the quality of the recording invited her to re-record the album in its entirety at the private boarding school’s studio.
“At first it was like, ‘We’ll just re-record the vocals,’ so it was this slow process and we recorded the vocals with their really fancy mic’s and we did that and then he was like, ‘But now we have to re-record the guitars, too,’ and then he’s like, ‘Well, why don’t we just make the whole album with some of those really great songs that you were saving for the other album?’” Charbonneau said.
That album, Heart is a Tower, is the first professional recording to be made at Shawnigan Lake School. She said some of the students helped set up equipment and observe the recording process. Students in the film program even created an accompanying stop-motion music video.
Charbonneau released the album, her third, on March 1 and this month she’s bringing it to venues across Vancouver Island, including a stop at the Vault in Nanaimo on March 21.
Charbonneau describes Heart is a Tower as a “vulnerably emotional” album with a strong family theme. The record includes a song Charbonneau wrote about her grandmother-in-law, a co-write with her father and a song her father wrote about his grandfather. Charbonneau said he once offered her money to record one of his songs, but she’s in no hurry to collect.
“To help with the recording process he’s like, ‘If you record one of my songs, I’ll give you $1,000.’ Of course now I have not seen any of that money. I don’t know if he’s going to pay me and I’m not going to chase him down for it,” she said with a laugh. “But we did go through a whole bunch of his demos and then picked one that we liked and it’s actually one of my favourites on the album.”
WHAT’S ON … Genevieve Charbonneau performs at the Vault on March 21. Doors at 8 p.m., show at 9. $10 cover.