Cecile Monique is a Canadian Gothic Symphonic artist. A classically-trained vocalist, composer and arranger, Cecile Monique brings a modern voice to an established genre in the European rock/metal scene, attracting new listeners in North America and around the world.
Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are pleased to bring you an interview with Cecile Monique.
1. Hi Cecile, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How you got involved in music?
Thanks so much for speaking with me; it’s a pleasure!
I started singing when I was around three years old and was initially very interested in classical music. My parents could tell you about how I used to sing arias around the house and wanted to be an opera singer when I grew up! I performed for charity functions and shows in my local community most of my life and eventually decided to pursue a university degree in music, and it was during my university studies in classical music that I started getting more interested in metal, especially symphonic metal, and I started writing my own original music in my spare time. After graduating, I decided to pursue it more seriously and won a grant here in Canada to do an EP recording of my original songs, and everything kind of took off from there.
2. What made you decide to work as a solo artist?
I think that working as a solo artist with session musicians for live shows and studio recordings kind of gives me the best of both worlds; I love having the collaborative experience of being able to play music on stage with the amazing musicians who have become my core ensemble and have the feeling of working together as a band, and since I started writing, I have always done the music and lyric writing process on my own so that I can shape my ideas fully before bringing them to my musicians, so I like having a more independent approach to the composing and arranging aspect.
3. Live YouTube premieres and interactive fan chats…you certainly have your finger on the pulse of what is needed to get yourself out there in modern times. Has this been easy to embrace or would you rather have a more ‘backseat’ approach to your music?
I definitely think that it’s important for artists in today’s market to be aware of the way that listeners are consuming music and to be flexible about moving with the times. The music industry has definitely changed so much over the last few years in particular, and I think that musicians are now kind of expected to have more input in their careers and take a more active role in engaging with their fans and being more interactive online as a way to support the creative side of the work. I’m definitely a more private person in my day-to-day life, so it certainly took some adjustment for me to embrace the social media culture that we live in now, but at the same time, it can also be really inspiring and rewarding to connect with people from all over the world who are enjoying my music and who maybe wouldn’t have been exposed to it if we didn’t have the media that is available to us today.
4. Can you give us more details about the new album? What was the writing process like and what inspired it?
I had wanted to release a full-length album for a few years, so “Genesis” was actually the culmination of a few years of work for me. I had a few songs in varying stages of development and I knew that I wanted the album to be thematically linked to the Biblical story of creation, but with a post-apocalyptic twist, so I knew very early on that “Genesis” would be the title and the unifying concept. I’ve always found it fascinating how almost every religion has a creation story, so I guess you could say that in many ways, the writing process was inspired by a combination of that along with my love of post-apocalyptic stories!
I wanted to musically examine the idea of a beginning after an end, so I knew that I wanted to write an album with an epic feel and a lot of dark elements that would really capture the gothic symphonic style. My song “Heat” was actually the first track that I started writing for the album, and I started developing it shortly after I released my single “Breathe Again,” so in a lot of ways, I think it shaped the tone and mood of the rest of the album.
I began writing all of the parts for each of the songs on my own from my home studio and also decided very early on that I wanted the album to have a very classical feel, so I began scoring the Overture, Interlude and Finale tracks with a prominent choral component as well. I also wrote the parts for each song with each of my awesome session musicians in mind, so I was also definitely inspired by them and their abilities and wanted to write parts that would bring out each of their skill sets in a prominent way and give each of them a spotlight, such as the solos I wrote for my guitarist, Sammy Duke, the special double bass part I wrote for my multi-talented bass player, Dan Corrigan, for my song “Ashes,” and the more challenging drum parts I wrote for our super-proficient drummer, Rob Crowder.
5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? Or where would you like to find yourself?
I would definitely love to see my discography grow and have a large body of work under my belt and hopefully have the experience of having performed abroad over the next ten years. It’s one of my goals to tour in Latin America and play the European festival circuit, so I really hope to develop my career internationally and be able to play some of the big stages around the world! I’d also really love to have the opportunity to share the stage with some of my favourite artists who have influenced me over the years, such as Apocalyptica (my heroes!), Within Temptation and Nightwish, so reaching larger audiences and bigger opportunities is where I would love to see myself.
6. What does the rest of 2019 look like for you as an artist?
Well, 2018 was a pretty eventful year, so I hope to continue the momentum for the rest of 2019! Earlier this year, I played a showcase at Canadian Music Week and a few other shows here in Canada, and I’ve just released a new music video and remix for my single “Break,” so right now the focus is on working on some new releases! I can confirm that I’m currently working on a few new gothic cover versions of a couple of my favourite songs, which will also be released as music videos on my YouTube channel and will be stagger-released with a few other new music videos for my original songs to further support my album, “Genesis.” I’m also hoping to continue to work on some new original material later this fall, which I hope to release as a follow-up to “Genesis,” so it will hopefully be a productive time for me creatively!