Meet the Artist: Elise Boulanger
Musician Elise Boulanger has created deep roots in the music community of Nanaimo, located on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw. As a learner of Indigenous language, Boulanger shares that she’s learned the words kwa t'itûlumuxw stilum shxuxals mean singer-songwriter in Hul’qumi’num. She is a Chamber Folk-Pop artist who started her musical journey at a young age. Inspired by musical theatre, which later led to her playing the lead in Annie, she began singing lessons when she was 8 years old, and later went on to study classical music with the Victoria Conservatory of Music. She attained a Global Studies degree from VIU concentrating in Food Security and First Nations Studies.
Drawing musical inspiration from the undulations of nature, the landscape, and horizon lines, Boulanger interprets environmental highs and lows in the composition of music. She also connects her artistry with science, by way of the volunteer work she does on the City of Nanaimo Environment Committee, which complements her climate change themed video release called The Warming.
Boulanger describes her music as classical, ‘creepy-pretty.’ She says her style evokes emotion to expand the listener’s mind. Focusing on undercurrents of rhythm, sounds found in nature, and experimentation on her piano, Boulanger’s songs often combine misheard words and found lines of poetry.
Boulanger combined her passions for traditional music and travel while in Morocco and Belize where she experienced the integration of music and culture. Musicians and dancers encouraged her to sing from her soul, shaping appreciation for diverse music. She is inspired by a range of influences including Regina Spektor, a Russian-born American singer-songwriter and pianist, Canadian DJ Whipped Cream, and xwulmuxw singer, storyteller and teacher, Tsumqwatun.
Performing requires awareness, and Boulanger says that one of the most ‘enchanting’ aspects of her work is to play together with other musicians. Her bandmates Anatol McGinnis and Natasha Hoskins regularly collaborate to create and perform at local venues such as The Queen’s or others farther afield.
While COVID-19 has curtailed Boulanger's travel to other countries she has used this time to record music. She is looking forward to future travel in Germany and reconnecting with Canada’s Music Incubator, which specializes in mentorship and professional development programs for artists, managers, and industry professionals, when communities open up again. Dreaming and planning for the future, Boulanger would love to appear on CBC. In the meantime she is about to release new remixes of her recent album Cigarettes et rosé, is pursuing grants to fund her first music video, and is presently working with a synchronization agents to make her music available for use in moving images for film and television.
To check out her artistry, visit her YouTube page or Spotify, or visit her website www.eliseboulanger.com
Photo: by Drew Barker