The ever-growing music industry on PEI seems to regularly produce talented musicians who take the scene by storm, and Brielle Ansmes is far from an exception. Her aptly named debut album This New Hurricane is a perfect reflection of that.
Ansems has been performing publicly since she was seven. With her parents being huge music lovers, she grew up in an environment where music was always playing. “My whole childhood kind of had a soundtrack to it.” She kept performing throughout high school — singing on her own, playing in band, singing in choir — and it was then that she started to consider music as a career option.
After that, she went to university for a short while. Six months in, she asked herself, “‘What am I doing here when I know what I really want to be doing is music?’” Still, she was hesitant to make the leap into labelling herself as a singer-songwriter, due to the uncertainty of where the music industry may lead. “It’s a daunting choice to make.”
Needing some time to sort things out, she worked in dinner theatre for five years and also studied theatre at Holland College, graduating in 2019. During the last few years Ansems dealt with significant mental health struggles including anxiety and depression, but the journey was and still is one of self-reflection and learning. “I’ve been spending the last few years solidifying my artistic voice.”
In summer 2018, Ansems finally decided she wanted to record an official, professionally produced album. Her debut full-length album This New Hurricane was released on March 6 of this year. Adam Gallant produced the album, and it features Evan McCosham on bass, Kirk White on drums, Kinley Dowling on violin/viola, and Brielle’s brother Dylan Ansems on guitar, with Brielle on keys and vocals. Ansems was also mentored by Jon McPhee, who she referred to as a lifesaver.
Ansems’ debut single “More Than My Heart” instantly pulls you in with melancholic, ambient chord voicings on the piano, followed by Ansems’ emotional, soothing voice. The second track kind of reminds you of a ‘90s-inspired soft-rock, electronic song, with an ear-pleasing, slightly eerie keys melody echoing through the verses.
The majority of her gigs are solo, but sometimes she’s accompanied by her brother on guitar and sometimes a full band. “It’s nice to have a partnership with someone who I’m super comfortable with, to help battle stage anxiety,” said Ansems, due to so many of her songs being very personal. “If anything, I would like to start playing with a band more often.”
In regards to lyrics, Ansems writes songs as a personal reflection of her relationships with other people and also about her relationship with herself, she said. For This New Hurricane, she was focusing on processing some toxic relationships, the part she played, and the things that partners could have done differently. “I tend to write a lot about self-worth and the struggle to depart from accepting less than I deserve. I write in an effort to process my own emotions.” Though there’s a thread of melancholy throughout some songs, there is also a lot of hope, said Ansems. “When I address some of the darker themes, I usually end up putting some sort of a positive spin on them by the end of the song.”
Ansems already has a new album in the works, which is set to be released in spring 2021. Her most recent album is streaming on spotify.
Brielle Ansems is performing live at Trailside at the Holman Grand in Charlottetown on July 15.