Winnipeg artist Rayannah makes history at Western Canadian Music Awards

By | October 9, 2019

Winnipeg artist Rayannah made her mark on the Western Canadian Music Awards last week, becoming the first francophone artist to take home the producer of the year award.

She couldn’t believe it.

“Truly, I almost fell on my face when they announced the category,” Rayannah told CBC’s Ismaila Alfa on Up to Speed Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s just so meaningful to be recognized by your peers in that way, and so special to know that you can make an album in your mother tongue… and still be recognized that way.”

Rayannah is also the first woman in more than a decade to be named best francophone artist.

She co-produced her debut full-length album — Nos Repaires, or “Our Haunts” in English — with Saskatchewan-based Mario Lepage, who shared the producer of the year title.

A sonic ‘universe’

Rayannah said she struggled for years with impostor syndrome — a phenomenon she said she’s noticed is common among artists, and even more so among those who are women, transgender, gender non-conforming or people of colour.

Imposter syndrome is where someone doubts their skills and accomplishments and has an unfounded internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

“There are certain things that are just not expected of us, or there are certain assumptions that are made about the limitations of what we can do,” she said.

“And those limitations, through my work I have learned that they are non-existent… It’s super important to me to talk about that stuff because it has been such a part of my life.”

Rayannah said she and Lepage recorded the award-winning album in spurts — sometimes in a recording studio, and other times in hotels rooms or people’s basements they rented while touring in Montreal.

“It was a labour of love,” she said.

Electro-pop singer Rayannah and her band playing to fans at The Cube in Winnipeg in 2016. (CBC)

While Nos Repaires took about two years to record, Rayannah said it took even longer to write. Some songs on the album are ones from about six years ago, and others weren’t finished until 30 minutes before they were recorded. 

“I think what kind of pulls all the songs together is the sonic environment that they live in,” she said. 

“I do feel that musical elements can communicate a lot, and I hope that we kind of created a universe where each song is its own planet, and you kind of go to that planet for a little while, but they still kind of belong together in this weird way.”