Q&A with queer songwriter Breagh Isabel

Image credit: Carolina Andrade

With over 50 000 organic views on her music video ‘Girlfriends’, we have no doubts that singer-songwriter Breagh Isabel name is going to be well-known in the months to come. Released via Warner Music Canada, the ‘Girlfriends’ video follows an adorable coming of age storyline and realizing your sexuality. Breagh has written music for the likes of Classified, Ria Mae, Donovan Woods and BANNERS in recent times. Her music has also featured in the multiple award-winning television series Grey’s Anatomy.

We find out a few more facts about Breagh Isabel below.

Please describe your sound for us.

I usually describe my sound as intimate pop music.

How did it all start for you?

I grew up on Cape Breton Island, which is a little heart-shaped island in Nova Scotia. I’m now living in Halifax, which is the province’s “big city” so to speak. Cape Breton has a really strong Celtic music/songwriting tradition so music was a big part of my upbringing. 

When my dad like 15 or 16 in the 70s growing up in Cape Breton, he was in a band called Brothers and One with his twin brother. He has all these wild stories about touring around Canada in a converted school bus they bought. The band turned down a major label record deal for college but he’s still a one-man band and plays every instrument. There was always music at our house, either him playing to us, or my parents playing records. I think my first favourite band was Paul McCartney and Wings. I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old and then in high school, my music teacher suggested I try to write songs of my own, and it kind of all blossomed from there.

Which three artists would you say made you want to create your own music?

Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, James Taylor.

What is your go-to gear/equipment when creating?

My go-to gear is usually my Nord keyboard, Logic and my Sony C100 mic. I’m constantly writing down ideas and potential titles on my phone.  I’ll generally start with a word or phrase and bring it to the keyboard to see if I can find music that fits.

What are some of your key influences in your music? Whether it be the sound created by others, imagery, films or any kind of art form.

I find a lot of inspiration in my day to day life. If there’s a theme I aspire to have in my songwriting, it’s finding a way to translate really specific and maybe mundane personal experiences into something other people can see themselves in. As far as musical influences, right now I’m listening to a lot of JP Saxe. I think he’s such an incredible, honest lyricist and the jazzy girl in me is a sucker for his piano chop.

What is one sub-genre you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves?

I went to university to study jazz piano, and while I was there I fell in love with hard-bop (a more soulful sub-genre of bebop). Hank Mobley’s Soul Station is one of my favourite records of all time.  Hard-bop is such feel-good music and I love that.

Any new or upcoming artists on your radar?

There is so much good music coming out of Nova Scotia right now. One of my favourite new artists is a friend named Sunsetto. Check out his new song ‘Don’t Leave’!

What single night out has been the most memorable for you? As a performer? As an attendee?

Last year just before the pandemic started, my girlfriend and I went to a Kacey Musgraves show in Nashville with Maggie Rogers opening. I am a huge fan of both artists, so watching them perform live was an incredible experience. During Kacey’s song ‘Rainbow’, everyone in the arena was given a coloured sheet of paper to hold up. When you looked out into the crowd, the audience formed a giant rainbow. It was a tear-jerker moment for sure.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

I just released my first single ‘Girlfriends’ and am working on my next one now. Stay tuned for more new music.

Follow Breagh Isabel:

Website / Facebook / Twitter  / Instagram / Youtube

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