Dream relives her Cinderella moment.
The 28-year-old Montreal musician earned her first Juno nomination and win at last year’s awards ceremony, following the runaway online success of her single CTRL + ALT + DELETE. Less than a year later, she returned, this time to Halifax, for the March 24 event. His first album, Return of Saturnlanded a nomination for pop album of the year, pitting her against front-runner – and fellow Quebecois – Charlotte Cardin, as well as Lauren Spencer Smith and country legend Shania Twain.
CBC News caught up with Rêve to talk about what this comeback means, how she discovered her love for dance music and where she learned to create a hit track.
Your music is defined by its huge dance-pop style, but you started out playing piano, trumpet, flute – basically high school band music. Where does your current sound come from?
My favorite instrument, since I was a baby, was the piano. I used to drag my Fisher-Price xylophone up to the doorpost of my house and match the notes, and I fell in love with it. When I first started finding chords, I sang along and never stopped.
I played the flute quite a bit in high school, but I was so bad. I used to sing with my flute during exams and I really thought my music teacher wouldn’t notice.
Absolutely. Immediately called (laughs). So piano was my thing – I tried guitar, but piano remains my one true love.
So what drew you from piano and group music to the danceable tracks on your first album?
In fact, it’s one of my favorite Montreal stories. I’ve been a music lover since I could speak, but I went out one night in Montreal to this club called Velvet. I had been to arena shows before, but I had never seen a DJ before.
We walked into this place, and it’s in the basement of an inn – like a really old hotel in the Old Port – and you walk in and there’s, like, taxidermy and stone walls and candles.
Then the DJ continues and I felt something I’ve never felt before. It was like this unity in the room, this transcendent feeling, this feeling of euphoria. And it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I was immediately hooked. I fell in love with dance around 17, 18 years old and I’ve had a love affair ever since.
Last year, you won dance recording of the year, while your friend, Preston Pablo, won the breakthrough artist award, and Banx & Ranx – who helped produce both of your albums – won won the revolutionary group award. Do you still make music together?
Absolutely. I mean, Preston is like a brother to me. We started our major label journey around the same time, with the same people – Banx & Ranx being the glue. And Banx & Ranx and I, they’re like family to me, they’re my favorite collaborators. They still play a huge role – obviously they played a huge role in the album, but also in the music to come, and we’re closer than ever.
Your sound engineer, Joel Stouffer, is also a Juno nominee for his work on your album. Did you all have a party together?
Yes, we had a cute little moment when the nominations were announced the other day, and I love Joel so much. He was one of the first producers I met when I started coming to Toronto to work on some of my first records, about six years ago. And he worked on (my single) Whitney, which has probably seen 25 production versions. He held on and we took him to the end. So it’s so nice to be able to be recognized for this record together.
You talk and communicate a lot with your fans on TikTok. But as an artist signed to Universal Music, your music has now been removed from the app. How is it going for you ? How has this changed the way you interact with your fans and as an artist?
I mean, there are of course other ways to communicate with fans. It’s something we all feel, but we’re focused on the next chapter, which is the upcoming tour, the upcoming music.
Is that something you struggle with, and worry about not having your music out there?
I think it’s a great opportunity to get creative. I think we’re obviously looking forward to a resolution, but I think it’s a challenge, and I’m looking forward to the creative challenge of finding other ways to navigate this time around.
You won dance recording of the year last year and are now back for a pop album nomination for Return of Saturn. Do you consider yourself a pop star?
I feel more secure in myself and my artistry than ever, and just to be recognized for my first album, I put a lot into it. It’s a love letter to dance. A love letter to pop, a love letter to the city I come from, Montreal. And to be recognized this year for all of your work is so special.
What has it been like for your family to see you reach such heights?
It’s been so great. They have always been very supportive. I grew up, as I said, in a very musical family. I think in the beginning, when your child says, “I want to quit school and run away and be a rock star,” that’s kind of a parent’s worst nightmare.
But now that they’ve been able to, you know, be at the Junos and see everything that’s happening and hear the songs on the radio — they’ve always been supportive, but now I think they kind of understand and feel a a little more comfortable.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.