Danielle Allard is Passing Notes

Ottawa songstress Danielle Allard may not have been caught passing notes in class but her notebook was filled with them! From an early age she would write down her stream-of consciousness way of thinking onto pages upon pages of youthful musings and ramblings. Some of those would eventually become her songs.

“All of my songwriting is, in fact, stream of consciousness. It is much later that I sit down to make sense of different passages and identify different themes to put a song together,” Allard says of a practice she still continues today toting around just another notebook filled with words. These more recent ones would form the tracks of her third album, Passing Notes, set for release next week.

“For anyone beginning in songwriting, I always encourage them to carry a notebook with them everywhere and write ideas as they come, even if it is one word. Otherwise, they disappear pretty fast. They often come at the most inconvenient times as well!”

Allard began her singing career as young as you possible could start walking…errr…crawling down that path. Her first words were sung, not spoken. She began performing in public at 3, but it wasn’t until her elementary school principal help really spark her interest in music that she decided to audition for the prestigious Canterbury High School music program.

“I can't picture a life without music. I had amazing mentors as a child who helped me find myself through music so it has always been such an integral part of who I am,” says Allard, bursting with gratitude to all those who have helped her along the way.

To her, music wasn’t something she just wrote, it was something she escaped into and, through it, out came an infectious quirky personality with the perfect amount of geeky frosting that pours over into her live shows that frequently can move you to tears after causing you to bust out laughing.  

“A lot of my song content was once very serious but it has developed more into comedy over the years with requests to play comedy clubs. I used to make jokes about it because I didn't know what songs I could possibly play in between comedy sets to entertain a crowd without forcing them into a deep depression,” Allard says with a laugh pointing to these gigs as ones that inspired a slew of more comedic songs she hopes find their way onto a recording one day.

After a string of shows for her last album Chameleon had that more quirky side of Allard dabbling in full on green body paint for her concerts, Passing Notes finds her shedding that skin and collaborating with an all new cast of musicians. It’s something that comes out in the lush new sound of this release.

Wayne Hawthorne produced and mixed the album, something Allard says was a game changer for her music.

“Wayne has been so patient and so creative. He is an incredible teacher and though he deals with hundreds of new students each semester at Algonquin College, he spent a ton of time with me explaining the process and teaching me so many new things. I am very grateful for his involvement in the project.”

Jasen Colson (Drums), Aaron Ray (Guitar), Dean Watson (Bass), Steve Foley (Guitar and Bass), Wayne Hawthorne (Trumpet), Brian Asselin (Saxophone), Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Cello), and Clayton Connel (Organ) all show up to pass along a few notes with Allard. The album title may be a tongue in cheek nostalgic reference but with it featuring so many of Ottawa’s best musicians accentuating Allard’s sugary sweet vocals, these notes are meant to be of the musical variety. Still, check yes or no if you love the songs!

Songs like “No Longer Silent”, one of the album’s stand out. In this time where so many are coming forward to break the silence against abuse, Allard has penned a moving anthem of survival. Here, the scars buried and struggles are not ones that define and the voice is not silent but one that roars. All proceeds from the track are being donated to Voice Found, a Canadian charity committed to the prevention of child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation.

Allard, like many musicians these days, turned to crowd-sourcing to fund the project, reaching her goal with 97 bakers. The result should keep the musician on her toes for the next couple of months as she pays it back with incentives like living room concerts, voice mail recordings and even a couple of animal paintings.

“Live a life of reciprocity,” Allard advises those looking to kick-start their own fundraising campaigns. “People are generous, but be generous also. Also be creative – how can you make it fun to be involved in that campaign? What perks can you offer that friends would really like? Because, in the end, these people are your friends. I hate the word fans.”

You can be one of those friends Saturday, May 19th when Allard officially releases Passing Notes with a performance at Collab Space. Crystalena and Kyle Ivan open the night which also features some comedy by Michael Lifshitz. 1310 NEWS’ Alex Black emcees. Tickets are available now.