Music has always been around Margaux Sauvé, born in Quebec to a family of musicians; she picked up the violin at the tender age of five. Moving on to the Conservatoire in Quebec, she quit due to “missing the fun part of it” but still loved music so started to play violin in local bands. Singing came a bit later as she thought that “to be a singer you had to have a powerful voice and be loud”, something that doesn’t come naturally to her as a quiet, thoughtful person. Alongside this, the pop music on the radio whilst growing up in Quebec wasn’t connecting with her, so it wasn’t until she started to write music whilst studying psychology at University that the creativity and desire to express revealed itself: “it just opened a completely new path for me”.
Writing music as Ghostly Kisses arrived at a moment where Margaux was in “a living situation I was not able to get out of. A toxic relationship where I had a hard time understanding what was happening.” With this knowledge, it is understandable that most of her early music has a sorrowful but exploratory mood; knowing there were things she needed to express, but not understanding quite how instinctively she was writing until years later it became apparent what she was singing about.
And now, with ‘Heaven, Wait’, her mesmeric debut album ready for release, her songwriting has developed to the point that this is the first time she has written and felt like she was part of the conversation. Able to view herself with an external eye, the album reflects transitions and rebirth – still talking about difficult situations, but with the ability to cast someone else in the lead role, giving the music a deeply personal yet starkly universal appeal. One which Margaux feels has come from “a more mature, adult way of looking at it.”
Identifying key themes of the album, Margaux frames the album artwork within the context of the songs as being “from water towards the air, there’s a lot of dark around me and I’m just going through to the light.” And that feels like the crux of the album, that nothing is perfect – there are always difficult situations, but it is about trusting the process and working hard towards something positive.
All the songs on ‘Heaven, Wait’ talk at some point about a transition or a relationship she had to work on, not wanting to be stuck in a situation forever. Whilst the story of the album is an intensely personal journey, it’s the first time we find Margaux writing about excitement and desire. We also hear her develop as an artist with liberating songs that can be danced to amongst the darker, more melodramatic songs she has built her name on.
If title track ‘Heaven, Wait’ encapsulates the positive side of growth, then other songs, such as first single ‘Don’t Know Why’ is about how “at some point I had to let go and accept defeat, it was my own choice to leave and it was painful.” ‘Blackbirds’ is about depression; something she experienced first hand when she was eighteen going into an intensely dark place: “there was no grey area, there was only black or an idea of being free.”
‘Heaven, Wait’ was recorded largely at home with her partner (in music and in life) Louis-Étienne Santais, working separately in the same house they would bounce ideas between rooms before coming together to rehearse the songs once they have developed into a solid enough form. Once they had the songs in a place, they were happy with, they worked on the files in real time with producer Tim Bran, despite him being on the other side of the Atlantic in the UK, and with Thomas Bartlett in New York City on other songs.
Together they have created an album that nods to her contemporaries like Billie Eilish and Aurora, blending pop songs in sophisticated production; but Ghostly Kisses can be traced further back to Royksopp’s ‘Running To The Sea’ and London Grammar – Margaux first learned to sing by trying to imitate Hannah Reid, a gateway to discovering her own way of singing.
All in all, ‘Heaven, Wait’ represents a new, more complete Margaux Sauvé, and as she moves from the dark to the light, we have been offered a compelling snapshot of grief, growth and desire.
Maximum UNIQ Box
Pitchfork Music Festival Berlin 2023
Iceland Airwaves 2023