Melissa Laveaux
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Melissa Laveaux

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"Ottawa's Melissa Laveaux Signs With France's No Format Records"

http://www.chartattack.com/damn/2007/05/2401.cfm


OTTAWA — "Everyone always tells me, 'You should send your record to so-and-so,' but I never do," says Ottawa singer/songwriter Melissa Laveaux.

After stumbling across her music through other sources, France's No Format Records contacted Laveaux through her MySpace page. "They said, 'I like your musical universe, and we think your voice could do really well in France,'" she explains.

No Format is a small label, but it has a few impressive credentials. Its records are distributed by Universal Jazz France, its roster includes Canadian expat Gonzales (Feist's collaborator and producer), and owner Laurent Bizot also manages popular Malian singer Salif Keita. Laveaux says she's still getting used to the idea of being part of that group.

"I think I'll bring something new to their roster. They don't have a lot of women, and it will be interesting for them to have a singer/songwriter who's also a guitarist. But I still don't know — I mean, I'm with people who have 10, 20 years experience on me."

Although Laveaux just released her debut album last year, her husky tones and percussive playing have met with steadily spreading praise. No Format plans to release Camphor & Copper in France in January, and Laveaux will head there for a couple of months around the same time. She's excited, but wonders about the trend that has seen Buck 65, Feist, Sarah Slean and a number of Quebecois artists move to France.

"I find it interesting that all these Canadian artists that have a hard time in Canada go over to France and do really well."

As for her own chances, Laveaux says, "I have no idea how it might go over, but I get a lot more hits on my MySpace from France than Canada, and people who buy my records using Paypal are mostly from Germany, Austria and Scandinavia. Apparently I have more of a European flair in my music."

Ottawans can see Laveaux on Saturday at Zaphod Beeblebrox, with Annabelle Chvostek and Blue Venus. You might want to catch her now, before it's too late.

"Maybe this will help me come back and play more lucrative shows in Ottawa," Laveaux says with a laugh, "or maybe I'll just want to stay in Europe."

—Caitlin Crockard - http://www.chartattack.com/damn/2007/05/2401.cfm


"Ottawa Buzz: Melissa Laveaux releases Camphor & Copper"

If you've seen any posters or press releases advertising the musical talents of Melissa Laveaux, you may have noticed a recognizable figure adorning the design: Josephine Baker. The American-born French legend is someone whose life lessons Laveaux takes to heart.

"Josephine Baker is definitely an icon of self-acceptance," Laveaux says. "She enjoyed her sexuality and it was a powerful thing. She respected herself before anybody respected her."

Laveaux has slowly warmed up to self-acceptance on stage. She's been playing music for years, often using it as a distraction from her science studies at the University Of Ottawa. But, as Laveaux explains, "When I first started playing [live], I played songs that were a minute-and-a-half — I just wanted to get off stage."

These days, Laveaux plays a confident and unique blend of percussive finger-picked guitar, and husky vocals that dance over metaphors and jazz-folk melodies. The inherent rhythm of her songs is complemented by percussionist Rob Reid, who plays cajon (a Peruvian drum) and tabla. After two years together they've become quite a tight team.

"Rob made me a better jammer," Laveaux says. "It's been a huge learning experience."

"My role is supportive," Reid adds. "I just try to be a good accompanist. And I ground Mel a lot."

With Reid backing her up on stage, Laveaux has developed the confidence and talent to let her songs breathe.

Now Reid and Laveaux have the first full-length evidence of their productive partnership — a CD called Camphor & Copper. It's being released Friday night at Zaphod Beeblebrox, with support from Oni The Haitian Sensation and Mz Revolution.

- Caitlyn Crockard - ChartAttack.com


"Voir Article"

De camphre et de cuivre
Marc-André Mongrain



Mélissa Laveaux: "Je n'aime pas devoir me prouver aux gens. C'est improductif. J'essaie plutôt de me prouver à moi-même."
photo: Jenn Hardy

Rares sont ceux qui, comme Mélissa Laveaux, parviennent à trouver un son si particulier et personnel à un si jeune âge. Résultat d'une entrevue colorée avec la "poético-diva" haïtienne aux multiples facettes.

"Je ne suis pas poète. J'écris des trucs par rapport aux gens qui m'inspirent. Mais je considère mes chansons comme de la mauvaise poésie. Je n'arriverais pas à lire mes paroles sous une forme poétique." D'emblée, que ce soit à la farce ou non, on peut s'imaginer que Mélissa Laveaux est une autocritique plutôt crue et sévère. Pourtant, à 21 ans, Mélissa faisait paraître, en juin dernier, Camphor & Copper, un album folk blues trilingue, gratté à la guitare par l'artiste elle-même avec sa technique trépidante bien à elle, nappé de percussions africaines, pataugeant dans un jazz world beat à la sauce latine. Une oeuvre empreinte d'une maturité et d'une originalité impressionnantes, entrecoupée de lectures poétiques intrigantes.

Autodidacte, Mélissa emprunte une approche qui fait transparaître son authenticité. "Je n'aime pas devoir me prouver aux gens. C'est improductif. J'essaie plutôt de me prouver à moi-même", dit-elle, du débit effréné d'une fille habitée par mille idées à la seconde. "Mon père m'a acheté une guitare quand j'avais 13 ans. Je ne faisais que des covers et on me disait "ton cover de Lionel Richie sonne terrible!" Pour ne pas fatiguer les oreilles des autres, j'ai décidé de créer mon propre son. Comme ça, les gens seraient moins offensés que si je reprenais des chansons qu'ils connaissaient", explique-t-elle en riant à peine.

Née Québécoise d'une famille haïtienne, activiste pour les droits des femmes et ceux des gens de couleur, radio-journaliste
pour CHUO et ancienne étudiante en biologie, réorientée en philosophie, Mélissa a un vécu chargé qui ne fait pourtant pas d'elle une artiste politisée. "J'arrive pas à parler d'un thème social. Mes paroles sont toujours à propos de ma vision personnelle. It's individual social activism, je dirais", ajoute-t-elle en y réfléchissant. Certes, si ses textes s'étalent sous forme d'histoires personnelles, souvent de dialogues avec elle-même, il n'en demeure pas moins qu'il y passe une dose importante de ses valeurs, dans un chevauchement de français, d'anglais et de créole.

Le titre de son premier album en dit long sur l'artiste. Le camphre et le cuivre. La douce substance aromatique et le conducteur électrique brut. "Le camphre, c'est la partie agitée en moi. C'est toute l'énergie mais en même temps, c'est l'apaisant", décrit-elle. "Le cuivre est fascinant. C'est un métal non précieux, mais il est utile. Mais on en fait rarement des bijoux. Moi, j'en porte constamment, assure-t-elle. On pense que c'est un métal sale. C'est pour ça qu'il me convient, je crois. Toute ma vie, on m'a dit des trucs racistes, par exemple que j'étais sale justement. Mais je mise sur mon utilité, sur ce que je peux faire. C'est un métal qui est vrai, quoi." - by Marc-Andre Mongrain - Gatineau/Ottawa,


"Fremissements locaux 2006"

"La "po�tico-diva" ha�tienne a piqu� la curiosit� avec son premier essai, Camphor & Copper, au son folkie-blues tr�s personnel pour une auteure-compositrice aussi jeune (21 ans!). Cette talentueuse chanteuse est encore trop absente des salles de spectacle et des festivals de la r�gion. Mais le vent commence lentement � tourner alors qu'elle assurait la premi�re partie de Malajube"

- Melissa Proulx, editor-in-chief - Voir Ottawa-Gatineau Dec 2006


"Concert Review - Montreal Jazz Fest - Metro Montreal - 4 July 07"

Mélissa Laveaux
organique et sensuelle
(Claude Côté, collaboration spéciale)
Métro Montréal, 4 juillet 2007

CRITIQUE
Il y a de ces decouvertes qui font plaisir. Qui vous réconcilie avec la vie. Qui donne envie de se precipiter dans le premier magasin venu pour se procurer l'album dudit coup de coeur.
Melissa Laveaux qui occupait la scène aménagée au coin de Jeanne-Mance et Président-Kennedy hier en début de soirée fait partie de ce groupe.
On parlera longtemps de la jeune Haitienne de 21 ans (sic!) qui concocte un apaisant elixir de soul, de blues et de folk, un peu à la manière de India Aarie, Ayo et autres nouvelles muses de cette scène musicale.
Avec un seul album à ce jour, Camphor & Copper (Camphre et Cuivre), la jeune guitariste accompagnée d'un guitariste acoustique et d'un percusionniste a livré ses petits trésors de chansons à la manière d'un artisan qui caresse et qui peaufine son oeuvre.

La rencontre des éléments
Le rendez-vous était idéal: la fin de journée convenait parfaitement à ce doux moment d'accalmie. En vrac, les chansons Scissors, Koudlo et Les Cendres ont semblé atteindre davantage la centaine de curieux massés au pied de la scène.
Sans forcer son jeu à la guitare, Melissa Laveaux s'accompagne avec une technique de frappe sur les cordes qui ponctue le rythme et crée une cadence au diapason des élucubrations de son percussioniste.
Dans le genre, je n'avais jamais vu une artiste aussi incarnée qu'elle de ce côté-ci de la frontière. Un diamant brut dont il faut admirer chaque soubresaut, chaque état d'âme. Pas surprenant qu'elle a comme modèle Lhasa de Sela et Billie Holiday. Entre ces deux influences, un océan de styles.
Bravo! - Claude Cote, Collaboration Speciale


"4 Star Review - Ottawa Xpress"

"Local songwriter Mélissa Laveaux is quickly rising through the ranks as Ottawa's newest folk darling. Granted, her music doesn't fit cleanly into the category; her soul, jazz and creole influences shine through on her impressive debut album Camphor & Copper. The record is a sweet and soulful collection, filled out with hand claps, tight percussion and Laveaux's own whispery, purring vocals. Packed with standout songs and sharp lyrics, the record demonstrates Laveaux's undeniable talent - Ottawa's lucky to have such a strong embassador for soulful songwriting in its midst." - Andrea Simms-Karp


"CD Review - Ottawa Citizen"

Camphor & Copper (4 stars)

" Ottawa's Mélissa Laveaux has a voice like cake batter; rich, creamy and just the right amount of drippiness.
The sunken-claws lyrics about drowning boats are tempered by ink-on-soul steaminess. Thank heavens it's all couched in poetry, gentle finger-picking guitar and that buttery voice. Her turn of phrase ("the cheer that you brought has been overthought") sticks and dashes of sax and tabla complement her whisper-to-wail vocals. Let's give her a festival stage and a backing band for this fine effort. "

- Fateema Sayani. - Fateema Sayani - Sat. July 22nd 2006


"German Review (+ translation) by Linda Konneke"

(Translation by Eli Conley, Original article follows)

The final translation
To hear limitless suaveness mixed with real expressiveness in a voice is rare. But that is the trademark of Melissa Laveaux, which you can hear on her CD “Camphor & Copper�.

The singer’s clear statement with this album declares itself in the title, which comes from a chemical-musical substance (also used in mothballs) that returns one to consciousness, namely camphor. This is mixed with the metal copper, which quickly returns one’s energy. And that is exactly what Melissa wants to do with her music: to get our brain moving, in order to make us ponder such everyday themes as love in a new way.

The realization of Melissa Laveaux’s first published LP in January 2006 was helped by Lisa Patterson of Imaginit Music Studios (co-producer), and the World-Beat-Fusion-Trio “Roam.� Melissa’s means of expression are her acoustic guitar and also her hauntingly angular voice. You can’t believe how much expression and power Melissa puts into her songs until you first have her in your ears. As a studied young woman, her song lyrics are also coined from an unmistakable intelligence. This is particularly clear in the song “Ulysses� from the line “If Homer was my homeboy, he’d write me fairytales and no more tragedies/ euripedes and sappho/ easy on the scrolls/ you draw your ink upon my soul�.

Songs from this Ontario, Canada-dwelling singer are presented in breakably sweet ways, and yet with clear certainty. It is acoustic souljazz that uses the percussions of Afro-Beat and dwells in the cosmopolitanism of its interpreter.

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Soviel Lieblichkeit und gleichzeitige Ausdruckskraft geballt in einer Stimme hört man selten. Doch eben dies ist das Markenzeichen von Melissa Laveaux, zu hören auf ihrer CD "Camphor & Copper".

Laut eigener Aussage der Sängerin dreht es sich in dem Titel um eine chemisch-musikalische Substanz (auch in Mottenkugeln verwendet), die das Bewusstsein beeinflusst, eben Camphor. Diese wird gemischt mit dem Metall Kupfer, welches blitzschnell Energie weiterleitet. Und eben das will Melissa mit ihrer Musik bewirken: unser Hirn in Bewegung setzen, um über alltägliche Themen wie Liebe bewusster nachzudenken.

Bei der Umsetzung ihrer ersten, Januar 2006 aufgenommenen Langspielplatte haben ihr Lisa Patterson von Imaginit Music Studios (Co-Produzentin) und das World-Beat-Fusion-Trio "Roam" geholfen. Melissas Ausdrucksmittel sind sowohl ihre Akustik-Gitarre als auch ihre eindringlich kantige Stimme. Man kann sich nicht vorstellen, wieviel Ausdruck und Kraft Melissa in ihre Lieder steckt, bis man sie erstmals in den Ohren hat. Als studierte, junge Frau sind ihre Songtexte geprägt von einer unsagbaren Intelligenz. Davon zeugt unter anderem "Ulysses" mit der Zeile:
"If Homer was my homeboy, he'd wite me fairytales and no more tragedies/ euripedes and sappho/ easy on the scrolls/ you draw your ink upon my soul"

Lieder, die die aus Ontaria (Kanada) stammende Sängerin auf zerbrechlichzarte Weiset und doch mit sehr viel Bestimmtheit vorträgt. Akustischer Souljazz, der die Percussions des Afro-Beat benutzt und von der Weltoffenheit seiner Interpretin lebt.

- www.soulsite.de


Discography

Full Length:

- (EP or LP) TBA (2007) with N0Format!
- (LP) Camphor & Copper (2006)

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Compilations and guest appearances:
- Canada-Haiti Action Network - "Hands off Haiti" (2007)
- LAL (New Album) (2007)
- Ladyfest Ottawa Compilation (2004)

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About the "Camphor & Copper"..

"Camphor & Copper" is Melissa Laveaux's first full-length studio recording. It was recorded and co-produced in the winter of 2006 by Lisa Patterson of Imaginit Music Studios (Toronto) and world-beat fusion trio Roam; and mastered by two-time Juno nominated recording engineer Adam Messinger of Messinger Sounds (Toronto). "Camphor & Copper" is a collection of few of the songs and spoken poetry written in the last 18 months and co-produced by Melissa. CD Cover art was painted by Ashley K. Stevens.

About the odd title -

CAMPHOR delivers a range of sensations upon contact. As a resin, readily absorbed by the skin, it is an anesthetic, an anti-microbial, delivering a pungent aroma, a cool soothing sensation.. a snake-like substance that sneaks into your subconscious. It flavours many sweets, and when ingested it is said to relieve minor heart symptoms. In large quantities, it causes convulsions, seizures, confusion and irritability.

COPPER - a common and un-precious metal can be quite the useful tool. Being highly electrically and thermally conductive and durable, its uses are widespread from gutters, to circuits, to poisons and water purifiers.

The duality between beneficial and detrimental is what brings both substances together like love.

Demos:
- (EP) "Four Piece Mosaic" (2003)
- (EP) "Warm Milk & Honey" (2005)
- (EP) "Live at Alumni" (2005)

Photos

Bio

---[ENGLISH BIO FOLLOWS]---

Orfevre des mots, Melissa Laveaux est une tres jeune artiste canadienne offrant un doigte de guitare fluide et syncope, avec les reflexes d'une bassiste. Ecrivant en Anglais, Français et Creole, elle scande ses poemes d'une voix cassee tres particuliere, gorgee de soul, dont le timbre peut rappeller celui de Macy Gray voire, par moment, celui de Rickie Lee Jones. Nee a  Montreal de parents Haitiens, elle grandit sensibilisee au contexte de ses racines culturelles et se voit tres vite forcee de prendre conscience de l'ecart qui les separe de l'environnement canadien. Elle se forge donc un univers musical a racines diverses,des ballades creoles-calypsos de Martha Jean-Claude, au trip hop de Morcheeba et Skye Edwards, en passant par samba-rock bresilien de Adriana Calcanhotto.

Rob Reid, son complice rythmique l'accompagne en voyage musical eclectique pour y ajouter percussions indo-latines sur tabla classique nord-indienne et cajon peruvienne.

Le tout se marie pour produire un melange trilingue acoustique de folk, blues et de soul. Depuis la lancee de l'album autoproduit Camphor & Copper en 2006 Melissa fut invitee aux Halifax Pop Explosion, Canadian Music Week, et sur les enregistrement live a diffusions nationales et provinciales sur CBC Radio tels que Go!, Bandwidth et Canada Live. Elle est lauréate du prix Songs From the Heart pour la meilleure chanson « monde » du OCFF pour avoir composé 'Koudlo'. Cet ete, sous le gite du label parisien N0Format! (Gonzales, Nicolas Repac, Mamani Keita), elle fera ses debuts en France et entamera la preparation d'un nouveau disque. Melissa fera partie des series de spectacles intimes "Contact General Motors" du Festival de Jazz de Montreal 2007.

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Her music / Stands/ Double edged/ And rich
Heavy honeyed/ Her dusk hushed voice
Sifts through your soul
Plucking your honesties/ Apart from the lies
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The low and calm rapture of feasting on summer fruit - that is the authentic freshness behind M�lissa Laveaux�s unashamedly personal and accessible music.
Melissa Laveaux's lyrics are the work of a well-studied wordsmith. Musically her guitar-play fluidly syncopates percussive jazz notes and bass lines, combining cultural influences from kreyol-calypso folkloric ballads, early 90's trip hop, and Brazilian samba-rock. More common references lie somewhere between Macy Gray and Rickie Lee Jones. Mélissa Laveaux is usually accompanied by long-time collaborator and percussionist Rob Reid (tabla, cajon) , bassist Neil Gerster , and Ottawa 's newest double-threat, songwriter Kyrie Kristmanson playing trumpet. Since releasing Camphor & Copper in 2006 Mélissa has been featured at the Halifax Pop Explosion, Canadian Music Week, on live recordings for CBC Radio's Go!, Bandwidth and Canada Live, and won an OCFF Songs From the Heart world music award for the song 'Koudlo'. She is scheduled to perform at the intimate Jazz-Meets-World Outdoor series at the 2007 Montreal International Jazz Festival, and is currently in negotiation for a European re-release of Camphor & Copper with Parisian label "N0Format!"(Gonzales, Nicolas Repac, Mamani Keita). This summer, Laveaux will sign on as the youngest talent on Parisian label "N0Format!". Though only a few dates in Paris have been booked for 2007, a more extensive European tour will be in the works early January 2008.

Born in Montreal to a proud Haitian family, Laveaux grew up conscious of the context of her cultural roots while moving around South-eastern Ontario before settling in Ottawa. She also grew up to the sounds of Martha Jean-Claudes kreyol calypso ballads, Morcheeba's down-tempo electronic soul, and whatever samba and bossa nova (Adriana Calcanhotto) she could afford to get her hands on.

In 2006 Melissa self-produced and released her first full-length album Camphor & Copper, and was the recipient of the Ontario Council of Folk Festival's Songs From the Heart Award in the World Music category for the kreyol song "Koudlo�.

Accompanist Rob Reid has given Melissa invaluable insight that has extended her musical vision to other continents. Speaking with the dead skins of the tabla and the wooden voice of the Latin cajon, Rob provides the steady subtle balance to her intricate fingerpicking as well as a critical voice to her ideas. Rob's work and continued study of Classical Indian tabla, his playing of the cajon (the box), and other improvised percussions provides an animated musical dialogue with Laveaux's throaty vocals and percussive guitar-play in live performance.

This music is drawn from a deep and intimate knowledge of the global musical milieu, a bilingual raw mix of acoustic soul/jazz and percussive kreyol folklore. A fresh offering to the folk music scene, it is folk that has bedded and bled with other genres.

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Her voice is her gaze/ And all she speaks/ Is unclothed
Bravely standing nude/ The beautiful/ And the ravaged
For