Five Questions With… Amanda Rheaume
Singer/songwriter Amanda Rheaume releases her fifth studio album, The Skin I’m In, on Feb.
By Jason Schneider
Singer/songwriter Amanda Rheaume releases her fifth studio album, The Skin I’m In, on Feb. 15 and—as the title suggests—it reflects how the Juno-nominated Métis artist has dealt with issues regarding her identity over the past several years. Produced by Colin Cripps (Blue Rodeo, Crash Vegas), the album features nine original songs co-written with a powerhouse group including Jason Blaine, Justin Glasco, Tim Bovaconti, Melanie Brulée, and Jim Bryson.
The Skin I’m In’s title track sets the tone with its theme of learning how to love oneself, unconditionally, no matter what body type, skin colour, gender, sexuality, or spiritual beliefs. It also touches on Rheaume’s exploration of her mixed-heritage background and reconciling that with what she describes as a privileged upbringing in suburban Ottawa.
Since launching her musical career over a decade ago, Rheaume has toured extensively across North America and Europe, while opening for such artists as Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Ani DiFranco. At the same time, she’s worked hard to use her music to affect positive change, partnering with several Ottawa charities and performing for troops in Afghanistan on three occasions.
Rheaume’s ability to translate personal stories into messages of strength for listeners continues to evolve on The Skin I’m In, and will surely increase her stature as one of Canada’s most compelling voices. She kicks off her latest tour on Feb. 16 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, with a date in Toronto on Feb. 21 at the Cadillac Lounge. For more info go to amandarheaume.com.
What makes The Skin I'm In different from your past work?
I’d say this album is even more personal than the rest. Instead of telling the stories of others I am telling my own story on this album. I also feel that the sound of the album, and the sonic landscape from song to song, is more cohesive.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
I am particularly proud of “The Skin I’m In” because of the message it conveys, and because of the special video that was created for this song. It feels important to me that my work can potentially help even one person feel stronger and better about themselves. I am also really proud of the song “Friendly Fire.” We recorded this one a bit differently—Colin Cripps and I played acoustic guitar together in the studio, and it added a fun energy to the final recording.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
When I started writing songs in 2003, I felt they were very “dear diary”-like, very personal but they could’ve used some arrangement and crafting help. I think then I went into storytelling in my music, especially when I made the album Keep A Fire. I was telling specific stories about my heritage and my family, and now with The Skin I’m In I have returned to writing more about myself and my deep feelings. So it’s sort of come full circle, but with some songwriting skills in my back pocket.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
I moved from Ottawa to Toronto in May 2017, so a bit over a year ago. I had mostly lived in Ottawa my whole life, but I needed a big change, and I genuinely feel that moving to Toronto has opened up my life, both personally, professionally and creatively.
If you could fix anything about the music industry, what would it be?
It would be paying artists higher rates and royalties for streaming.