Long before her first song was written at age 14, there were hints that Montreal-born Julie Crochetière [pronounced crow-shet-ee-air] was destined for a life of writing, recording and performing music. Though she reluctantly made her way through eight years of classical piano studies, her talent was apparent to her teachers before she even realized it herself. “I would read the piece one time through, then close the book and just practice by memory and ear. If we heard a song in the car that I liked, as soon as we got home, I would rush to the piano and try to play it. But when it came time to practice Mozart, it was a fight every time”.
Like many of her contemporaries, Julie began writing songs as a heartbroken teenager in need of catharsis. Little did she know that someday the first single/video from her first full length album would be one of her own compositions, entitled “Precious Love”. In fact, Julie wrote or co-wrote ten of the fourteen tracks on A Better Place, which includes collaborations with Jacksoul’s Haydain Neale and Xandy Barry, among others. Her prowess as a songwriter is no accident. Never prone to creative inertia, after a successful tenure with Universal Music pop group Sugar Jones under her belt (which included two top ten hits, a platinum selling record and two national tours), she was intent on honing her songwriting skills by focusing on collaborating with other writers. “Finding the right collaborators is key. It’s almost an art in itself. The right collaborator has the missing piece, adds the right note, says the right thing. And somehow, nobody knows how or why, something is born out of nothing, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Listening to A Better Place, Julie’s eclectic taste in music and broad range of influences is immediately apparent. From the sensual vocal performance on “Footsteps”, which is reminiscent of early Roberta Flack, to the soulful interpretation of Sir Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” (on which she was joined by all ten members of The Sharon Riley Faith Chorale), her unique approach is unmistakable. For many artists, taking on classics like Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away”, or Lionel Richie’s “Stuck On You”, might have been a daunting feat, but Julie rises to the occasion and breathes new life into each of them.
No stranger to the challenges of overseeing every aspect of a recording project, in 2003, Julie wrote and independently released her first EP, Café, which was co-produced with Haig V (Bran Van 3000). This release led to performances at some of the most highly esteemed live music venues in Toronto, Montreal and New York, including the Toronto and Ottawa Jazz Festivals, Canadian Music Week, North by Northeast, and the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The experience of taking an independent project every step from its inception to delivering it to live audiences put Julie in good stead for this, her first full-length album, which was recorded in Toronto and Montreal in early ’07. “The recording of this project was very intense and focused. I wanted to record this album in an old school way to capture the magic of the ‘live’ sound: put the band in a room, press the red button, and let’s play”. The recording process was completed in a matter of weeks and was produced by Julie, with Tony Albino. This approach obviously worked, as the album is as intimate and warm in production as it is in lyrics and melody. Julie says “I’ve been very fortunate to collaborate with some great writers, musicians and producers during the entire development of this project. I hand picked everyone on my team. I chose people that I admire and respect and musicians who I love listening to.”
Reflecting on all the decisions that have led her down the creative path she’s taken to A Better Place, Julie says, “I feel extremely proud of this record. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably do the same thing. In fact, I would live my life the same way too. The road up until now has been full of passion, tears, sweat, laughs, doubts, pressure, headaches, love, magic, minefields and unanswered questions…it’s been filled with tons of ‘no’s and a few meaningful ‘yes’es, but mostly, it’s been full of excitement. And that’s what I signed up for.”
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