A chat with Gilmore about her debut folk album and a preview of its celebration launch event planned for Dec. 10.
Following the recent release of her debut album Mental Backroads on Oct. 20, child studies MA Concordia student and music artist Vikki Gilmore discusses the making of the project and gives insight on her upcoming album launch event on Dec. 10 at Le Ministère in Montreal.
The local artist was born and raised in the city and has been involved with music since high school. Gilmore taught herself how to play acoustic guitar around the age of 16 so she could accompany her poetry with music. She’s gone from school talent shows to doing gigs around Montreal during her time at university.
The musician has been writing songs for years and said that finally coming out with an album is “a lifelong dream and it means the world to me.” Gilmore’s intention was to tell life stories that others can connect with, namely discussing family, friends, love, nostalgia, grief and mental health.
Mental Backroads is meant to take the listener on a metaphorical and literal road trip through their mind. Its songs weave a story with stories from her personal experience that she hopes are relatable to others. The main message is about being patient with yourself during any new journey one embarks on.
Gilmore describes her music as Indie-folk soup for the soul that could be mistaken for the soundtrack of Gilmore Girls. Her sound ranges from twangy folk to alternative pop/rock and is great for fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Daughter, boygenius, Lizzy McAlpine and Joni Mitchell. The artist also takes care in connecting what she’s learned from her background in psychology to her lyrics. The classes and her involvement and interest in the subject have deeply influenced how she conveys her emotions and ideas. She’s able to relate them efficiently through words with ease and connection via her knowledge of psychology.
Gilmore said the creation of her debut indie-folk album has been the most exhilarating and difficult part of her music career. “Releasing it independently has taken a lot of dedication, spending most of my nights planning promo, filming music videos with friends, doing my own PR, planning finances, and more,” she said.
Having to write, record, plan a release, plan the promo, and then plan live shows was the same process as previous EP releases, but she said that completing an eight-song album involved difficult mental aspects and financial commitment. The scale this time was completely different. Gilmore also never creates music with profit in mind and therefore always writes from the heart. Most of the songs on this album took between 20 minutes and an hour of writing, while the album’s production process took months, “but the writing just flows,” she said.
Vikki Gilmore shared that her writing process is therapeutic. The Montreal singer doesn’t adopt any particular habit while writing but notes that it helps her process difficult emotions, which is a habit she’s developed over the years. Notably, the song “Pieces in the Black” came from a time when she was navigating a deep sadness and wanted to write something she could listen back to in the future.
For this project, Gilmore collaborated with a few Canadian-based producers. Her longtime collaborator Mathieu LeGuerrier mixed and produced the majority of the songs. Jacob Liutkus produced “If I Wrote You”, and “Stranded” was produced by Gert Taberner. “It was really cool to work with a variety of producers and you can probably hear hints of each of their production styles in the different songs,” she said.
Gilmore brainstormed the idea of a road trip and postcard aesthetic to match the theme of the music. Tyler Piechota designed it to depict vintage scenic postcards in Colorado, “which has become one of my favourite places in the world,” Gilmore shared. The physical design of the vinyl version is a postcard with a guide map as the insert. “The visuals are cohesive and match perfectly with the sound to support painting a picture of travelling through life and the experiences and growth that come with exploring ourselves and the world,” she said.
Gilmore hopes that this project is a warm hug to whoever needs it. Like a lullaby from the moon when you can’t sleep at night, plagued with fears of abandonment, wondering about the people you lost touch with, thinking of the people that have passed on, and reflecting on life with kindness for the previous versions of yourself. Gilmore especially learned about resilience and self-love during the creation of Mental Backroads. “In an era of streaming and social media, it can be hard comparing yourself to others,” she added.
The album launch on Dec. 10 at Le Ministère promises to be beautiful, with twinkling lights, a guitarist and a drummer to support Gilmore on stage. It will be her first live show since the pandemic and she is beyond eager to connect with other music fans during the evening. There will be performances of songs from Mental Backroads with some older songs and possibly some surprise ones. The night will start with Callahan and the Woodpile performing a solo acoustic act to set the stage for an indie-folk cozy night out. If you’re looking for an excuse to discover some new music, get dressed up, and have a night out on the town, stop by!