Alisa Blanc: raising the musical bar

Alisa Blanc, B.C.-based francophone singer-songwriter | Photo courtesy of Kaori Kasai

B.C.-based francophone singer-songwriter Alisa Blanc performed her brand of moody smooth guitar pop for the Surrey Fusion Festival on Sept. 28, 2020. While she is currently writing music and studying in Japan, Blanc was raised in France before moving to B.C. During that time she has made the most of B.C.’s francophone singer-songwriter opportunities, all while embracing her language and heritage as a French-speaking minority in the province.

“I find it so important for me to grow and embody that French heritage because we’re a minority in B.C.,” says Blanc. “I feel like there was the responsibility to keep writing in French and support the community in that way. But there’s no pressure. It’s not in a way where I feel I have to do it. I want to do it.”

Finding her voice

For 19-year-old Blanc, the last three years have been a whirlwind of musical opportunities, the first of which came with B.C.’s Jeu Francophone showcase, organized by B.C.’s Conseil Jeunesse Francophone, or Francophone Youth Council.

Blanc remembers the French songwriting showcase as her first chance at writing original music in French, as well as the chance to meet her current producer, with whom she would record her debut EP: Chapitre Un (Chapter One).

“That was my first professional experience. He guided me through the whole process, put a lot of trust in me and my music, especially in the first few years,” says Blanc. “After that I kept writing and performed in a few festivals. The summer of 2018 was a big one, because I was able to participate in a lot of big events. And I think that kind of started everything.”

Blanc says that finding an identity as a singer can be quite the challenge, and no less so when you’re singing in a minority language. But it’s a challenge well met by Blanc, as the solution so far has been to embrace her vocal identity and both her francophone and anglophone influences, employing her vocal style more typical of English-speaking singers while singing in her native language of French.

“I was told that French singers have a softer voice, a bit of a breathier way of singing. And I never fit into that box. So, I would sing in French, but I would be told that I have a more American or Canadian way of singing, which is a more powerful or more full sound,” says Blanc. “So, I think my music was a way for me to kind of bring both Canadian or like American style of music and French lyrics together.”

Growth as an artist

The past couple of years have come with another set of challenges, however. In addition to her attention being somewhat divided – Blanc continues to pursue her studies at university in Japan – she says it has proved somewhat challenging to pursue her love of sharing her music live, as the coronavirus continues to limit performance opportunities to artists like herself.

“Moving all of that online [and focusing on recording music] has been very different. When you’re playing in person it has to sound nice too, but it’s also just a moment for me to hang out with friends, talk about music, and that has been taken away,” says Blanc. “But it has been alright. I invested in recording equipment for myself so that I could try to make demo tapes or to, you know, work a bit more on my music. I think this has given me more opportunities at home.”

Indeed, for Blanc the shift in priorities has also presented a chance to reflect on her music, her goals and her growth as an artist. While a few years ago songwriting and performing was simply a chance to have fun, Blanc says that as she continues her music, honing her craft and raising the bar are now the focus, as she aims to record her debut album next summer.

“I wouldn’t say it has made it more difficult, but it has been challenging with regards to my music because I’m more strict with myself. It has to have some kind of meaning, some kind of substance behind, so that’s what I’m aiming towards.”

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