Photography by Brent Goldsmith. Hair & Makeup, Sabrina Rinaldi for Cosmetics/Oribe. Manicure, Khristinne Manuszak for Nail Bar. Clothing, Artists' own.

Ralph, The Beaches and Eight Other Musical Acts on Falling in Love

The (em)power(ment) of love

In the crowded landscape of lovestruck crooners and broken-hearted balladeers, the best love songs are born out of a songwriter’s willingness to tap into their vulnerability—their soul, for lack of a better word. Songwriters have the ability to capture a visceral emotion and a moment in time. We rely on them to explain the feelings we struggle to put into words. It might sap their strength, and leave their own stories open to interpretation, but that’s their job. It’s no wonder that people who sing about love have to pay extra attention to loving themselves.

FASHION sat down with ten rising Canadian acts to find out how love, heartbreak and self-love feed their ever-changing creative process. Keep reading for the interviews, an original photoshoot and our behind-the-scenes video on set with the musicians!

Photography by Brent Goldsmith. Hair & Makeup, Sabrina Rinaldi for Cosmetics/Oribe. Manicure, Khristinne Manuszak for Nail Bar. Clothing, Ralph’s own.


Her favourite love song is “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell.

“I remember realizing I was in love with someone,” says Ralph (real name: Raffa Weyman). “I had this feeling that I was going to either bawl or puke.

“I thought: ‘Shit. I’m in love, but I don’t think I’m going to get what I want out of it.’” She pauses before genuinely pondering: “What’s better? Having that sick, infatuated feeling but knowing it’s too complicated or dating someone simple and good but never feeling sick over it?”

Ralph’s melodic retro-pop is as colourful as her fashion-forward ensembles. She admits that she’s been in love two (maybe three) times, and her self-titled EP is an honest reflection of the thrill, unbalance and confusion of dating in this modern era. It’s a commitment to realness that she isn’t about to give up for love.

“It doesn’t bother me if someone knows I’m writing about them,” she says. “I’m not trying to glorify what happened; I just don’t care to lie about it.”

She also doesn’t care to lie to herself. Feeling good physically and spiritually—charging herself with good food and exercise and practising box breathing to calm anxiety—helps her find control amid the chaos.

When she finds the time to successfully meditate, she repeats mantras like “You are good. You are kind. You are lucky.”

“I figure I can’t be preaching self-love in my music if I’m not trying to practise it,” she says.

Photography by Brent Goldsmith. Hair & Makeup, Sabrina Rinaldi for Cosmetics/Oribe. Nanicure, Khristinne Manuszak for Nail Bar. Clothing, LeBlanc’s own

Lisa LeBlanc

Her favourite love song is “By the Way” by Lee Hazlewood.

By Greg Hudson

Lisa LeBlanc writes in sharply observed blurbs and snippets of conversations that feel so honest they could have been overheard on the subway. When her words are paired with her trash-folk banjo and stomping guitar, the results feel as if she put a microphone to her heart and let it do whatever it wanted.

It makes for some cathartic breakup music and incredibly specific torch songs—“5748 km,” for instance, a track measuring exactly how far away she is from the person she loves. Whether the listener is in a long-distance relationship or not, the Acadian chanteuse lets them feel the distance.

But what happens if there isn’t any heartbreak to sing about? “Obviously I want a happy life, so I’ve definitely thought about that,” says LeBlanc. But it’s not like she’ll force it. “I’m very chill in a relationship. When shit does go down, I get calm and weirdly rational.” Proof: her song “Could You Wait ’Til I’ve Had My Coffee?” in which she requests a bit of caffeine before being broken up with. Pretty logical.

Photography by by Nastia Cloutier

Milk & Bone

Their favourite love songs are all of Chet Baker’s love songs and “Vibrate” by Rufus Wainwright.

“Sometimes when I’m performing a song, I’m removed from it and thinking about the audience,” says Camille Poliquin, one half of Montreal electro-pop duo Milk & Bone. “And other days I’m almost moved to tears because I’m feeling the exact emotions I felt when I wrote it.” Across the stage, musical partner Laurence Lafond-Beaulne might not have experienced the love or anguish that inspired those emotions, but having worked on the songs, she gets it. “When bringing a song to the other person, sometimes it’s hard to explain because it’s too much,” says Lafond-Beaulne. “But Camille never goes there with me; she just knows.”

In their music, Poliquin and Lafond-Beaulne don’t shy away from difficult discussions; their debut album, Little Mourning, was a “cheating album” that confronted burdensome memories of remorse, forbidden love and conflict. Their piercing harmonies alternate between feeling like a gut punch and a balm, releasing hurt and anger, bringing relief and forgiveness.

While important to their process, reliving hardships can hinder the journey toward self-love, says Poliquin. Most of us confront pain in private, while musicians often let it feed their very-public art. “I have to get in touch with that part of me,” she says. “But I also have to remember to take care of myself.”

Photography by Maya Fuhr

The Beaches

Their favourite love songs are “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley, “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers and “Los Ageless” by St. Vincent.

Both innocence and wisdom emanate from The Beaches, whose four members have been playing music together since high school. Only half the band has ex­perienced true love, but that doesn’t stop them from singing about it—because as best friends (and two sisters), they’re not about to keep secrets. “I wrote the song ‘Keeper’ for Leandra after she shared one of her romantic experiences with me,” says lead singer Jordan Miller. “Sometimes you need other people to write those songs for you.” Keyboardist and guitarist Leandra Earl chimes in: “I went to her with feelings that I didn’t know how to describe, and she wrote them in a way that made sense to me.”

But they don’t just help each other understand their feelings; they help each other love themselves. “It’s easier to love yourself when those around you remind you how,” says drummer Eliza Enman McDaniel.

If you think about it, a woman loving herself, despite all the noise, is about as badass as it gets. “In our music, we talk a lot about acceptance and embracing your flaws and your sexuality,” says Miller. “I think that’s rock ’n’ roll.”

Their favourite love songs: “My Sweet Lord,” George Harrison; “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley; “Unchained Melody,” The Righteous Brothers; “Los Ageless,”

Photography by Norman Wang

Charlotte Day Wilson

Her favourite love song is “Love” by Kendrick Lamar.

Charlotte Day Wilson’s silky vocals have the distinct ability to slow time—at least for the duration of a song—leaving you no choice but to sink into her narrative.

The Toronto artist has always seen songwriting as “the light in a dark tunnel” and uses her woozy R&B arrangements as a vehicle to explore her feelings about life and love. “I think I always knew that I needed to fall in love in order to write what I wanted to write,” she says. “I had always written about it, but I didn’t really connect to the music or feel deeply about it.”

For Wilson, her first experience with real love came at a pivotal point in her life. “My falling in love for the first time was heavily tied to coming into my sexual identity as a queer woman, so it was a lot at once,” she says. “I started writing music at the same time I started falling in love and consequently started having my heart broken.”

Wilson’s acclaimed debut EP, CDW, is a six-song collection of plush instrumentation and harmonies that skilfully captures the essence of intimacy. Even in her darker numbers, Wilson finds empowerment. “There’s power in performing a song about heartbreak and tapping into those feelings again,” she says. “It’s kind of like ‘Here I am, in front of all these people, singing about something I overcame.’”

Wilson’s approach to self-love might take some nurturing, what with her newly sporadic schedule challenging her strength at times. Even so, she knows what she wants out of it all. “I just want acceptance,” she says. “Whether it’s from my partners or my friends, I just want to feel accepted for who, and how, I am.”

Photography by James Medina

Tei Shi

Her favourite love song is “Girl from the North Country” by Bob Dylan.

Valerie Teicher started writing love songs in her diary when she was about five years old; she had no idea what she was talking about, but she’d listened to enough music to understand that love was apparently worth writing about.

Fast-forward a few decades and the love songs she writes as Tei Shi are both sultry and complex, although she still isn’t always aware of what she’s trying to articulate—at least, not until a song is complete. “Writing songs is like channelling my subconscious levels,” she says. “I’m not very aware of what I’m saying until I take a step back and put the pieces together. It’s introspective.”

But introspection requires space. “In the past, I had a tendency to get into relationships, whether friendships or ro­mantic, that were negative and high maintenance and detracted energy from who I am; I only want people around who see me fully,” she says. “Self-appreciation has come through in my vocals, which are upfront and more aggressive—a sort of ‘I don’t give a fuck what you guys think, because this is me.’”

Photography by Brent Goldsmith. Hair & Makeup, Sabrina Rinaldi for Cosmetics/Oribe. Manicure, Khristinne Manuszak for Nail Bar. Clothing, Allie’s own.


Her favourite love song is “All I Want” by Joni Mitchell.

Allie really is in love, but she’s endearingly calm about it. Maybe it’s because this is her first time being in “this type of love.” “This relationship is the first time I haven’t had to rearrange myself,” she says. “Me as I am now—that’s enough.” It clearly inspired the songwriting on her debut album, which was the first time she didn’t write about “bad relationships and fuckboys.” The downside, of course, is that she might not be able to bring herself to sing the songs if the relationship ends.

That said, Allie never wants to lose touch with her darker feelings or limit herself to only writing about happy relationships. “As much as I love my partner, friends and family, I want to be the love of my own life,” she says with conviction.

Photography by Jen Squires

Whitney Rose

Her favourite love song is “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by The Casinos.

Whitney Rose is a “story thief.” Those are her words.

The Prince Edward Island-raised, Texas-based country singer is six years deep into a committed relationship, and despite the genre’s reputable candour, her own love story isn’t something she’s too inclined to share. Instead, she upholds the artistry of jukebox-era country by penning twangy interpretations of other people’s great loves and losses. “I think my fella is dis­appointed I don’t write more about it,” she laughs. “It’s just very dear to me, and when you’re an artist, you don’t get to keep much to yourself.”

Rose’s old-school brand of country hearkens back to the straightforward sentiments of Patsy Cline or Dolly Parton, who used swaying melodies to detail the world-toppling reality of love. “Love is a complicated thing, and the most simplistic genre is country music,” she says, sounding poetic even in casual conversation. “You know what they say: It’s three chords and the truth.”

That truth? Love can be a bitch. “I was a good student, I worked hard in school and I try to be a good person, but being in a relationship that I truly care about and don’t want to see end is the hardest thing I’ll probably ever do,” she says. “Still, when I’m on my deathbed, I hope I’ll be thinking about how I spent my time loving.”

Photography by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Allie X

Her favourite love song is “Lovefool” by The Cardigans.

Looking at photos of Allie X, you’re more likely to find her hidden behind statement sunglasses or peering cautiously over tilted frames than staring directly at you.

Relocating to Los Angeles from Toronto nearly five years ago, the pop singer-songwriter admits that she has always been “a bit of a loner” and didn’t date or think she was worthy of having a loving relationship until she was in her 20s.

She’s refreshingly forthcoming about her inner “rage and sadness” and the role they play in her music. “I’ve always written from a place of darkness—a place of release,” she says matter-of-factly. “Those feelings are really accessible to me, although they’re not always easy to find the perfect lyrics for.”

On 2017’s CollXtion II, Allie X’s mighty vocals tell more stories about heartbreak than carefree love, but the singer admits that lately she has been feeling a shift. “With my next body of work, I’ve been writing a little more about the good side of love,” she says. “I’ve been trying to write from a more personal, less abstract place, and maybe that’s why those feelings are coming out.”

Photography by James Ellis

Tasha the Amazon

Her favourite love song is “It’s You” by Zayn

When it’s your job to rile up an audience with crowd surfing and vodka spraying, messages of true love don’t always make it into the mix.
For Toronto rapper Tasha the Amazon, it’s not that the love rhymes don’t flow; it’s just that she’s not ready to experiment with them onstage yet.

“I’ve spent my entire life in love,” she says giddily, before revealing that she’s currently in a serious relationship. “I can fall in love in 15 minutes. I don’t put up walls or feel threatened by it.”

Tasha says that love songs in hip-hop are hard to come by because of the hardness and masculinity of the genre. “By and large, it’s a bunch of dudes pulling their dicks out and talking about how cool they are. Talking about love in my music is definitely something I’m trying to do more of,” she admits.

After the crowd goes home and the vodka-soaked floor is wiped clean, it’s her deep-meditation practice that helps her find the energy to do it all over again. “It’s about taking time to not be completely reactive,” she says. “Mindfulness helps me slow down and create space for myself.”

See behind the scenes of our photoshoot with Ralph, Allie and Lisa LeBlanc in the video below!

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