Heartbreak Queen Coeur De Pirate Knows All About Toxic Relationships
Quebecoise singer Coeur De Pirate (Béatrice Martin) is ubiquitous (read: ridiculously famous) in the French-speaking world. Having released her third album Roses in April, the chanteuse has attracted an insane fan base, largely intrigued by her angelic voice and delicately forlorn piano pieces, which are paired with her tattoo-laden arms and badass image. Partially blocked by the language barrier her music presents—her songs more often in French than not—the love-infatuated singer is currently touring the States, pleasantly surprised to find adoring fans waiting for her at sold-out shows.
Early on a Tuesday morning, I spoke with Coeur De Pirate about both the excruciatingly bad relationship she pulls from to make her melancholic masterpieces, as well as the healthy loving she’s discovered within her husband. We also touched upon crucial creative topics like sexuality, annoying yoga teachers, and how her music feels like drinking a glass of rosé.
Mathias Rosenzweig: I’m going to jump in with a toughy—Can you describe your last album Roses in one word?
Just one word? It would probably be cinematographic. It really does tell a story about the transition from being the person that you were to young adulthood, and how that is very weirdly perceived in our day and age, and how it’s all fleeting and nobody’s nostalgic anymore. That’s the feeling I wanted from the album, that’s for sure.
Now that the album’s been out for a while, do you look back and notice any particular themes you were really playing with while writing it?
It’s a very introspective album. Before I would only talk about the people that were hurting me, so I was blaming ex-boyfriends and talking about that. I mean, I needed to do that at the time. With this album, I actually explored whatever I was going through with years of touring and becoming who I was, and the fact that I was growing up away from everybody that I knew on tour. I was very lonely, but at the same time I was facing so much joy every night from playing shows. There were some really lonely times that happen when you’re a musician, so I talked about that and just growing up. Growing up isn’t easy, and when you have to do it in front of everybody, it’s even harder. In the States, I’m fairly unknown still, but in the rest of the world—and especially Montreal because it’s a small town and everybody is very attached to their artists—everybody knew me. I would go down the street and everybody would say hi. It was really surreal.
It’s interesting that an artist “blowing up” actually involves a lot of good and bad. Everybody knows your name but you hardly have time to see friends anymore.
It’s better now because I actually have a family, so I feel like I have something to look forward to and give it all back to. I didn’t have that before; it was just me. You deal with everything a little bit better, that’s for sure.
You have a daughter named Romy now. I’m wondering how parenthood has affected the music or touring?
Oh, it really has. Obviously we plan ahead now; I can’t be like, “Oh, I’ll go to Australia forever.” It’s a little bit more planning. It’s good because they follow me around when they can, and that’s really nice, but it’s really just more planning ahead.
I felt that this record was a little bit more upbeat. But there’s something really heartbreaking about a lot of the music still. What type’s of experiences have gone on in your life that you pull from creatively?
It is a pretty heartbreaking record, even though it talks about moving on or going through certain things. At the time, I was very pessimistic and I was reveling in all of that misery that was around me. This one talks about the deep stuff, but it also talks about getting through all of that. What happened was that before I met my husband, I was in a very toxic relationship. We’ve all had some of those, and I had a really bad one. So the song “Carry On” talks about that point where I had this very destructive version of love change to this very positive one. I didn’t know where I fit into that because I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know how it was supposed to feel: stable and filled with love. So when I wrote “Carry On” it was that; it was like, okay, I actually have enough love around me to leave whatever I knew behind, the person that I was and the person that I was dating. It takes a while to realize that for a lot of people. But once you know, you know. So I wanted to explore that.
I recently got out of a toxic relationship as well and am looking forward to the “Carry On” moment.
Oh, you’ll get there. We all have that, and you’ll get there.
“I love Miley Cyrus, and I love Katy [Perry]. I love all of them. I think if you’re confident and you know what you want to do, that’s fine. For me, I think wearing a turtleneck is sexy, so I’ll just do that.”
But also, [I was drawing inspiration] from tons of things. Dealing with people that are living with addiction. I was an enabler for a long time. I was helping someone not get better. I wasn’t doing anything, so I was an enabler in a sense. I talk about that in “Cast Away.” And “Undone,” which is a song I actually wrote for my husband that’s really saying I’m a piece of work. You’re going to have to deal with this. [laughs].
DJs and producers have had a field day with your music. People just love remixing it. When you were studying classical piano, did you picture your music blasting at clubs?
No, and I love it. I mean I think it’s awesome, and I think it’s an important part of our process now as musicians because EDM is so big, and the dance charts and all of that. I’m glad that people actually try different things on my songs and I didn’t think that would happen back when I was playing music at the conservatory. It was like, I don’t know…it was the 90s or early 2000s, so it was like the Backstreet Boys. I think it’s great. Hopefully I’ll get more remixes out there and people will discover my music in another way.
Can you tell me about your experience with social media or YouTube? Has it affected your career significantly?
It really has, especially in the States and the rest of the world because, for some reason, I was kind of a Tumbler phenomenon. If you go on there, there’s so much Coeur De Pirate it’s insane. I don’t understand how it happened because when I started playing shows in the States, there were so many people and my CD wasn’t even out there. It’s been really important for developing and getting your music out. Streaming too, I know a lot of people are against it, but if you’re an up-and-coming artist, streaming is super important because you’re on different playlists and people get to discover you. I’m on everything. I just got Snapchat and it’s pretty awesome. You get to show people that you’re not a complete robot and that you want to interact with them and that you’re just like them. Everybody should get to do their thing. I love Miley Cyrus, and I love Katy [Perry]. I love all of them. I think if you’re confident and you know what you want, that’s fine. For me, I think wearing a turtleneck is sexy, so I’ll just do that. I think if you’re confident then it doesn’t matter what you wear. It can be anything. It can be your birthday suit, or it can be a turtleneck. As long see your confidence, they’ll find you sexy either way.
You’re currently on tour. How do you prepare yourself for a live show?
I’m pretty nervous. I dance a little bit on stage now, not like crazy Michael Jackson dancing, but I move so I have to warm up. And then I do vocal warm ups. I have to breathe—it’s hard, I forget sometimes.
You’ve got to start yoga! That’s how you learn to breath.
I did do yoga for a while, but then the teachers would stress me out! They would like, bother me in Shavasana, and I’d be like, “…you’ve got to be kidding me.”
At least you tried. What type of person do you feel is connecting with your music?
It’s kind of all over the place. I just noticed that in different countries it’s different. In France and in Quebec, everybody likes it. You know, people that are five years old to people that are older. But in the States, it’s mostly people my age or people that go to college. So it’s cool, only because I’m only playing 21 and over venues for now, but they usually tell me the same thing, like “I love your music.” It’s really funny to see how people’s taste varies from whatever streaming service their using.
If your music were any type of food, drug, or drink, what would it be?
It depends on the type of alcohol, right? Because if you drink a certain type of alcohol you’ll have a different kind of buzz. Definitely not champagne—definitely not—because that makes you way too happy. It would probably be a glass of rosé on a hot summer night. Just enough to get you browsing Pinterest.
Image courtesy of Huffington Post