By Glen Brown
[Friday May 11, 2018, Hamilton, ON, Canada] Poesy is an up and coming singer-songwriter with a remarkable story. She has become well-recognized from her appearance on CTV’s reality show The Launch in January 2018. All she had to do was be herself on TV. And she walked away a winner.
Star of the show Scott Borchetta and his two guest stars Stephan Moccio and Fergie saw without a doubt that Poesy had what it takes. The show launched her recording of Moccio’s Soldier of Love, and this whole thing has launched the next phase of Poesy’s career.
Poesy and her band are performing in concert tonight at Hamilton’s iconic Zoetic Theatre. It’s a big deal because it is the first big local career event for Poesy following the airing of the show and the immediate media hype in the days following. It will be the first time many Hamilton fans get to hear her sing in person.
It is a curious thing how in Poesy’s case The Launch provided a cinematic “nudge” which steered her into a major turning point in her career, by transforming her concept of who she is as a performer.
In a recent interview I spoke with Poesy about her experience on The Launch.
How did you get on The Launch?
At the time I was working at the YMCA in London. On the side I was trying to book shows with my band around southern Ontario trying to play shows here and there.
Then I got a Facebook message one day from this girl at Universal Music who started telling me about this new TV show she was involved with Bell Media [CTV] and starring Scott Borchetta.
At the time I thought the message was spam. I thought it was too good to be true. But I followed up and she really did work at Universal Music. I was still kind of hesitant about it because I never thought of myself being a part of a TV reality show, because it’s not my style. I also didn’t know much about the show. It was the first season. They hadn’t really made the name public, and they hadn’t told anyone how the show would work. The day the auditions were due they sent me a message saying Hey are you sending in a video? Nothing has come through yet so I went home and recorded one of my original songs and Zombie by The Cranberries.
It sounds like they had already heard you sing and really wanted to see you get involved.
I think they had seen me on social media and some of my YouTube videos.
Interesting the way things play out, isn’t it?
You never know!
Did you get the feeling that Stephan Moccio, the guest star on The Launch and producer and songwriter Soldier of Love, had a good understanding of you as an artist?
It seemed like we had a lot in common, for example we view everything creatively. He said to me from the beginning, Yes you’re a musician, yes you’re a girl who can sing, but also you’re an artist and I know that you have a vision. I know that everything you do is for a reason and you’re not just putting out songs for fun. So it was cool to hear someone as accomplished and talented as him say that.
Is there some kind of a record deal as a follow up to your being on the show?
Something like that could materialize for me as I go forward, but it’s not part of the prize. Now that the show is over, I’m in the real world.
How has your artistic team changed or grown from before The Launch to now?
Before The Launch I was a one woman show. I did all the booking, made the website and wrote the music. I set up everything. It was kind of a weird process because I filmed that episode back in August of last year, so I had about six months leading up to when I knew it was going to come up and all of this was going to start unfolding.
In that time everyone advised me that I didn’t have to rush having anyone right now. If you don’t find the right team to work with that’s okay. So I put my time into recording new songs and writing new songs. The show aired and everything unfolded and I got ninety emails in one day. Everything happened really fast, but it was still me doing everything!
And it’s still me doing everything. I want to be involved in all the business aspect of my career. I want to understand what’s happening. I want to wait until I find that right person or the right people who will really help. That’s important to me. My girlfriend is a photographer and a graphic designer. My family is really supportive.
With all the intensity around the one song and all those people making plans, how does it not feel overwhelming? At any point do you feel like your life is not your own anymore?
Thankfully I’m still in control of things, so that’s good!
What “tools” are you finding indispensable as you move forward and build your career?
The biggest tool is probably the fact that people know who I am. Before if I had reached out to certain radio stations or certain larger venues or larger bands and asked them about working together or doing an interview, my email would just go to their deleted email folder! So it’s cool to message agents and have them excited because they recognize me. I don’t feel like I’ve done a 180 degree turn as a performer or as a musician. I’m still the same person as I was before The Launch, just more people know about it.
The power of recognition!
There was that moment on The Launch when you stepped out from behind the piano. Tell me about that.
Originally, before we even got to filming the show, the producers had messaged me and were asking about my needs and my setup on stage. They asked if I would ever consider not playing with the keyboard and just performing [as a singer only]. I’ve never done that before and it will probably be super awkward, and it’s not authentically who I am. I wasn’t too psyched about that. But they coaxed me out of and said I think you can perform this.
I think it’s pretty cool. In real life I’m a pretty soft-spoken, shy person. That moment of stepping out from behind the keyboard fully performing, kind of left that girl behind. And so it gives me an excuse to be someone else for an hour on stage. It’s really fun. It’s a great way to let out a lot of energy and be this cool “other” person. I actually really enjoy it and I hardly every play keys anymore. After being on The Launch I hired a keyboardist.
Knowing that it’s the producer of the show making the request, and the fact that at first you said no, but then they coaxed you to try something new that was out of your comfort zone. That speaks tons to me. So now you have a different approach where you’re out front and someone else is playing keys. Since this all began during The Launch, what did you learn during the coaching session with Fergie?
First of all it was super nerve-wracking, just because it was Fergie. She was very sweet and down to earth. She gave me a lot of good pointers. She was going around the stage listening to the tune saying, I think this is what I would do; I would probably do this if I was performing this song. I was looking at what she was doing and was feeling like I could not do the same thing and look normal. She could sense that I was really uncomfortable. She said, You don’t have to do what I’m doing. I’m just showing you what I would do if I was you. But you have to figure out what you would do if you were you!
Fergie definitely wanted me to figure it out for myself. So I took little bits of what she was doing and tried certain moves that I felt okay with. The biggest thing she told me was don’t think about it. Have fun. Let go. And when the performance happened I was just pushing myself until I was super out of my comfort zone. My parents came to the show and said they didn’t even know who that was!
You mentioned one of your influences was singer Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine. Do you see any of Welch’s misfit feelings or idealist traits in yourself?
When I was a kid I was always very loud. I was one of the oldest kids in my family, so at Christmas I that kid who would make all of my cousins put on a play, even though nobody wanted to. I watched a lot of Disney when I was growing up and so I thought that you were supposed to sing about everything that happened to you, because that’s what they did in Disney movies! I have memories of being five or six walking around singing about making a peanut butter and jam sandwich!”
When I was in school I felt different from everyone else. When I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a musician, and I believed there was nothing wrong with that, and then when I got older and was learning about more traditional methods of what you should do with your life I was still wondering why am I the only one who still wants to do what they wanted to do when they were a kid? Why haven’t I outgrown that?
What album or song from Florence and the Machine should people listen to?
Her best album is Ceremonies. My Favourite song is Leave My Body. It’s huge; it’s really grand.
What would you like to be doing a year from now?
A year from now I’d like have released an album. I’ve been working and cowriting with lots of different people. I’ve always wanted to make a full length album, perhaps a concept album with a story. Since it would be the summer of 2019 I’d also like to be seeing myself on some festival posters. It would be pretty cool being outside and feeding off the energy of people in that setting.
What are we going to see at Friday’s show?
This is one of the biggest “planned out” shows I’ve ever done. There’s a costume change and some stage direction going on. It’s going to be quite a show! We’ve got one or two new songs we’re going to introduce.
Tell me about your band.
Keys, guitar, bass, and drums. They’re students I met while I was at Western. We’ve been playing together all along. They’re very good musicians; music students – UWO has a popular music program which is what my bandmates were in.
I’ve been checking out your album “The Spotless Mind”. Sounds like a good quality recording. Where did you record the album?
I recorded it in my last year of university in a classroom, except for one song which was recorded in the basement and living room of my house.
I’m excited for Friday’s show, looking forward to hearing that same big sound.
We’re very good at making a big sound in our live shows!
Best wishes for tonight’s show. Zoetic Theatre, Concession Street, Hamilton.
Thanks so much.
Editorial update, May 31, 2018
Poesy: Upcoming Shows
- June 30th Mill’s Hardware in Hamilton
- July 13 Festival d’Ete, Quebec
- July 27 Yonge & Dundas Square with Iskwe
- September 14 Supercrawl, Hamilton