Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Un sourire sincere: portrait of a Montreal artist

Ariane Moffatt to headline her first Toronto show

"The fact that I did this album by myself, and it was contrary to what I was used to, allowed me to discover a lot more of myself," says Moffatt. Credit: SPG Le Pigeon
Although she hails from Montreal, a city with a more rambunctious reputation, artist Ariane Moffatt is looking forward to playing Toronto for her first headlining show.
Moffatt, who has plenty of material conveying her hometown love (specifically Mile End, the neighbourhood she calls home) has opened her door and her heart on her latest album, Ma, her second recording with songs in English.
Moffatt passed through Toronto in March for a Canadian Music Week showcase and will headline at the Drake Underground on May 25. “I love the Drake and have never really been to Toronto this much; this city grows on me,” she says. She will also be returning June 22 to perform as part of Franco-Fête, the city’s international francophone festival.
Trauma, her previous release, featured a few English covers but was recorded specifically for a television show she describes as “Grey’s Anatomy, but in Quebec.” For Ma, Moffatt ventured into new territory, writing and recording original material in English and also independently.
Ma is a Japanese word that also has my initials, reversed. It represents the little gaps that exist between everything and is the kind of matter in empty spaces. The fact that I did this album by myself, and it was contrary to what I was used to, allowed me to discover a lot more of myself,” she says.
Moffatt admits it took her a long time to speak about her private life because it was not an aspect of performing she wanted to bring attention to. But after being in her province’s public sphere for so many years, she decided to speak openly about her sexuality during a February appearance on the well-known Quebec television show Tout le monde en parle.
“I wasn’t putting my art and my sexuality together. I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for six years. In my songs, I talk about love as a feeling, and sharing this in my relationship is an advantage because [my relationship] becomes a partnership,” she says.
She says her music doesn’t focus much on political issues. “[I’m] still a minority, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not on ‘the team.’ I still love who I love, but it’s my choice as an artist to put my art first,” she says. “I wasn’t a fan of having a big, official coming out.”
A confident and grounded performer, Moffatt is looking forward to embarking on her latest adventure to tackle a predominantly anglophone market. Having recently returned from playing at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, her first time performing in the US, she has since booked shows in Toronto and New York.
She usually records with the rest of her band, so she says spending quality time on her own was a spiritual experience.
“[Recording Ma] was a deep experience; a creative slope and a creative process,” she explains.  “It is the result of how and what I’ve been living and was done in a really spontaneous and individual way.”