An Interview with Coeur de Pirate: Taking a linguistic leap of faith

coeur de pirate

Beatrice Martin is a musician in transition.The singer-songwriter also known as Coeur de Pirate returns to Los Angeles for a headlining set at the El Rey Theatre this coming Saturday armed with some awesome electro-pop tunes.

Martin is touring in support of her 2015 full-length release Roses, an album that sees her challenge herself in more ways than one. On this record, Martin sings more English-language tunes than French ones for the first time while also taking a deep dive into the burgeoning synthpop genre with tracks like “Carry On” and “I Don’t Want to Break Your Heart” — which features rapper Allan Kingdom.

“Where I’m from, which is basically Quebec, in that part of Canada where it’s mostly French-speaking, it’s very great that I’m able to do shows in the states and get to tour and do all of that — it doesn’t happen to a lot of us,” Martin said via phone in an interview with Grimy Goods this week.

Even before crossing over with English lyrics in recent years, Coeur de Pirate has cultivated a following outside the confines of Canada where Martin is from. Martin has inspired a number of fan pages and followings from all over the world — including a Twitter account @PirateSoull that tweets memes of the singer.

“It’s the best, it’s like a 16-year-old girl from Texas that does it and she’s amazing,” Martin said as she laughed about it. “I really hope I can make it out there to meet her because she’s on point with this, she knows what she’s doing.”

Martin referred to Roses as a “transition record” when we were on the phone, partly because of the emphasis on English. She only recorded her first song in English four or five years ago and didn’t come back to it fully until this release.

“I know how to speak English but I was worried maybe the poetry wouldn’t be nice, maybe the images wouldn’t be nice, maybe it would be corny, I didn’t know,” Martin said of writing new stuff in the language.

“So I gave it a shot and wrote one song in English maybe four years ago and I loved that song so much. It’s a song that’s called “Ocean Sprawl” and I was like, ‘I can’t just have one song in English on the new record, that’s really weird.’ So I just wrote a couple more and by the end I had a lot. I liked them all so I decided why not give this to the people who have been listening to me a while and want to hear something more direct in my songwriting and stuff.”

The result of her efforts is an album that can reach a larger audience, and it comes at a time when she’s expanded her sound as well. While she first started as a musician that played mostly piano, Roses serves as a full jump into the burgeoning synthpop genre. Martin’s vocals resemble those of Lauren Mayberry in CHVRCHES and the songwriting is comparable as well. The chorus in “Carry On” sounds as though it could’ve been crafted by Mayberry, for instance.

The record includes a feature of Minnesota rapper Allan Kingdom, something Martin was able to secure via Twitter. The two had never met in fact, until shooting the music video for the song that was just released.

“For that song, which was kind of quirky, I needed somebody that was in that vein as well,” Martin said of how she thought of utilizing the rapper. “He has this early-Kid Cudi stance that I really, really enjoy. This early Kanye, which is kind of a nerdy hip-hop feel. I needed that for the song and I thought he was perfect and I just messaged him and he said yes,” Martin laughed. The two performed the song together when her tour stopped in Minnesota.

Martin headlines the El Rey on Saturday, and the venue holds special meaning to the singer.

“I remember playing one of my first solo shows and it was at the El Rey and it was packed and I just thought, ‘Wow, this makes no sense.’ I thought maybe 30 people would show up and I had people driving from Arizona and all that to come to the show.”

If you’re debating whether or not you should drive from Arizona to see her this time, start making plans to call in sick Friday and get an early jump on a trip to L.A. Martin should make it worth your while.

Words: Mark E. Ortega

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