Laura Gagnon is an incredible woman, representing London’s music scene with a drive and passion like no other – from belting out classic Heart songs like “Barracuda” with her full band at RibFest, to playing solo on her own songs such as “In Your Eyes” and “Magic Horse, she has a diversity that showcases her talent. She is also the founder of The Doll House Showcase series, representing Canada in France at Vimy Ridge by singing the Canadian National Anthem.
How did you get started in Music?
I used to watch my parents rehearse in our basement and fall asleep under my mom’s keyboard. There’s a picture of me standing on a piano bench in front of a stack of keys! I fell in love with the feeling of music when I was very young and decided I wanted to feel it all the time. That’s when I knew, I wanted to be a musician.
You come from a strong music background, as music runs in your family. What was that like growing up?
My parents used to practice in the garage and I’d be in the kitchen next to it dancing and singing to all the tunes! I think that’s when I learned I could sing harmonies. I’d hear them write their songs and I loved listening to my parents playing together, singing together; definitely a strong musical unit. We were one unit, us three always singing and playing together, no matter where we went.
Even at restaurants, we would hear it was someone’s birthday and we’d randomly sing Happy Birthday to them in three part harmony. Sometimes when my friends would leave my house to go home, we would sing “Goodnight Sweetheart” as a send off.
You have quite a unique sound, how would you best describe that sound?
Lots of soul and “tude”! I’ve developed this arsenal of vocal tricks that I love to use tastefully – it’s an edge with a soft touch. You’ll notice a lot of my songs are theatrical or would sound like a movie soundtrack to a romance film or Disney movie. You could also find my music in something like a Cheeky Rom Com.
A few years back, you had a great sound with The Rockin’ Laura Gagnon Band. You did some originals as well as some amazing covers from some of the greats like Heart. Do you miss those Rock days?
It’s funny you should mention my “rock” days! I’m actually working on new singles that have a more rock edge to it. Still poppy and R&B; just dirtied up a little.
Twice, you went to France and sang The Canadian National Anthem – one for The Vimy Ridge Memorial as well as The Armistice. Please share with us how that came to be and how you felt representing Canada for these two incredible memorials?
I was invited to sing for “Maples For Vimy” tree planting. Girl Guides and Scouts from across Canada and France got together and planted living memorials of honor at all the battle sites around Arras, France. I got to meet so many amazing veterans and hear some of their stories. This was also the first time Germany and France formed a treaty. WOW that was something! To be a part of history and seeing these amazing children hold the Canadian flags – I was honored and so proud. When you see a little French girl dressed in red and white wanting to visit Canada for the first time, learning some of the language so she could say “Hi”, THAT makes me so proud to be a Canadian.
You also started the Doll House Showcase in London, showcasing the sounds of Women In Music. How did this come about?
Creating a safe place for Women In Music was really important to me. It’s an opportunity to meet like minded female musicians and help each other climb the ladder to success. No one should feel like they are alone.
Do you feel that women have to work harder than men in the music side of things to succeed?
I feel that sometimes we are pushed into a category that says “Gullible” or “Can be taken advantage of just because I’m a girl”. Women have had to work harder than men, yes, and I feel in a lot of ways we still do, but the amazing part about this is that most women are now speaking out about it and working together to change things, and it’s working.
Do you get treated differently than males in music because you are a female artist?
I used to. “Oh, are you the drummers’ roadie?” “You must be one of the band’s biggest fans, what’s it like following them around to every show?” There comes a point when you realize you need to put on a “strong face” be a leader, be bold and take control of every moment. Never brush anything off and always correct them.
You have many incredible songs, two of which are “Magic Horse” as well as “In Your Eyes.” Please share how these songs came together. Both songs are so beautiful, they should be in movies.
Thank you!! Magic Horse was a call out to the universe for me. To find that man in my life – my true love. I’m a huge romantic and love writing these kinds of songs. I had amazing musicians and producers collaborate with me on this one and still have bigger plans in the future! There is still a lot of momentum left on this song! In Your Eyes, I wrote as a challenge to myself. I wanted to write a song from the perspective of two peoples’ thoughts while they danced their first dance as a couple.
You went to Ottawa for a while. Do you find a difference in sounds from Ottawa compared to the London and area scene?
I found that Ottawa is like a little Nashville, a hidden gem everyone always glazes over. Lots of talent there. London is also another diamond in the rough. Good to start out with, lots of support! As for the sound, and we’re talking about the pop side of things, it is very pop based with a touch of folk/rock. London is very country based with a touch of folk/rock. That’s how I would describe it.
What inspires you to write the songs you sing?
It could be as simple as a good quote or a line in a movie or show, or as complex as the end of a relationship. Could be adventures I go on or maybe I’m feeling sassy that day and write a kickin’ hook. Recently I’ve been starting with drum beats and then it goes on from there.
Have you ever felt like just giving up?
Usually when things get hard, I go even harder. You can’t just give up on your dream just because it’s tough. Make the dream work by doing the work.
Who are your influences in music?
I’ve always admired Alicia Keys, her willingness to be real and live each day so grateful for the next. Lady Gaga is another one who hits hard for me. She’s someone who is fearless, smart and an incredible musician. If I could open up for one of them some day, I would freak out!
As an artist, how has the COVID pandemic affected you, not only performance wise, but has it affected your drive to keep writing new music?
It’s been really important for me to keep myself grounded. Whether it’s going for walks or learning new skills. I’ve never felt freer to create! Every day is a new song. Keeping myself inspired, keeps me motivated.
What are your fondest memories so far in your music journey?
I toured with a tribute act called “The McCartney Years’’ led by insane front man Yuri Pool – we traveled about four years all throughout the States. I remember arriving in New Mexico and being picked up by a Lexus SUV and another one behind it for our gear which was taken to the venue, and then afterwards to this swanky hotel.
As we arrived, we each had our own bell hop who took our stuff up to our rooms. We arrived at the venue and our gear was already set up and lined checked. We were just there to make sure it was what we liked. We did our show, left our gear and in the morning we went back to pick it up and it was already packed up and loaded into our trailer! WOW! That was the first time I ever experienced that. Singing in France for the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge was also amazing! We planted living memorials of honor with Scouts and Guides from Canada and France – what an experience!
Have you done any musical collaborations?
I’ve done a bunch of Collabs! The most notable ones would have to be working with Dale Russell from The Guess Who. What a kind soul. Lots of love and hugs to him. I worked with a rap artist out of Rhode Island and that was the first time I wrote and released a song with an artist outside of Canada. Lastly, all the women in music that I’ve played, wrote and toured with. It was such a gift working with all of them.
What are some of the studios you have recorded in?
First is a Toronto based studio called “Inception Sound”, led by Platinum Producer Chad Irschik. EMAC out of London with guru Kyle Ashbourne, and finally, Blue Sound Music with mastermind Roy Hamilton, who I currently have the honor and privilege to be working with. Dreams really do come true.