Toronto-living, Montreal-born singer-songwriter Rêve moniker of Brianna Donolo, first found fame after her rendition of the national anthem at a Canadiens de Montréal game went viral. Her harmonies, riffs, and runs are a force to be reckoned with, as once experienced you understand why she is so loved. The last few years, Rêve translating to dream in French, has been working on developing and honing her sound with the likes of Joel Stouffer who’s credits include Carly Rae Jepson.
Her music is electrifying, taking influences from Pop, R&B, and Dance, catching the attention of many including her latest signing to Universal Music Canada and Astralwerks. Having also amassed a massive audience, Industry Me sat down with the musician to discuss her journey to where she is today…
I want to start by asking what was the inspiration behind your stage name, Rêve?
Rêve is the French word for “dream.” I really wanted to pick a name that not only encapsulated the vibe of the music I aim to create (ethereal melodies, tons of vocal stacks, etc.) but also a name that represented Montreal, my hometown because it is a HUGE inspiration behind the music.
Congratulations on the release of your first single! How has the reaction been so far?
Thank you so much! The reaction to “Still Dancing” has been absolutely wild. The message has connected with more people in the world than I could have ever imagined! It goes without saying that this pandemic has taken such a toll on so many facets of daily life, but mental health is a major one. “Still Dancing” really explores that, but also speaks to the resilience of people and club kids everywhere.
I love the visuals! What was the idea behind the music video and song itself?
The concept for Still Dancing came out of a conversation at my kitchen counter during quarantine. My roommate and I would drink wine and listen to house music to lift our spirits during lockdown. At one point during one of our dance parties I looked at her and just blurted out “Fuck we’re sad, but we’re still dancing”. As the words came out, I knew they would make great lyrics. The tagline and the pre-chorus of the song lived in my notes folder for months. When I began working with BanxnRanx, I brought them the rough idea and they were immediately inspired. We wrote the rest of the song together along with our frequent collaborator Sara Diamond.
When it came time to create visuals, our team had to get creative because we were at the peak of Covid. The box was a concept that was Covid safe but also represented confinement and the feeling of restlessness that we’ve all been feeling during the pandemic. When it came time to do the club scenes, we found a workaround by having everyone double-masked under a third (bedazzled) face-covering! Fashion-forward, cryptic, and Covid safe!
I take it you are experiencing many things for the first time, your first single, music video etc. Has it been weird adjusting?
I’ve been making music for a very long time, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to give it 100% of my focus. I viewed every odd job I had up until this point as a means to an end to get to where I am today as a full-time artist. I have never felt happier and more fulfilled than I do today!
What did ‘normal’ life look like before this?
Although normal life still includes a lot of music, it also involves cooking great food and discovering new fine wines! I’ve been passionate about wine since I was probably too young to drink it, and I’d be a Sommelier if I weren’t in music.
You were discovered when your rendition of the national anthem at a Canadiens de Montréal game went viral. how did your life changer from that moment on?
My life changed overnight! After the video went viral, I was being flown all over the world for anthem gigs, meeting with major labels, and connecting with some of my idols. I was a wide-eyed 19-year-old who had a lot to learn about the industry and that was the catalyst.
For you, TikTok is a massive aspect of where you are today, how important is social media to you and in general these days?
Social media is MASSIVELY important! I read somewhere last week that we’ve shifted from pop culture to internet culture and it’s so true. There is so much content out there these days, so you really have to be really thoughtful about your content and have a competitive posting schedule. It’s important to carve out your lane and get to know your audience as well!
Growing up in Canada, what is the music scene like over there for Dance/Pop/R&B?
Montreal is the reason I fell in love with electronic music. I remember going to my first electronic show at some sketchy pop-up after hours that was basically a giant room with one red light bulb hanging from the ceiling. I had been used to going to shows at arenas with insane production budgets, so I wasn’t expecting much, but it turned out to be one of the best shows I’d ever seen.
I couldn’t believe the way I was transported out of that room, and how much the music moved me emotionally just as much as it moved my feet. It was such an overwhelming experience, and I was completely hooked after that night. I spent the better part of my late teens and early 20s consuming as much of it as I possibly could in Montreal’s many house venues, and I eventually started making it myself!
What does Rêve bring to the scene that you think is missing?
A lot of mainstream EDM is characterised by zippy synth lines, great drops, and a few clever tag lines. I would love to introduce a type of dance-pop that is hyper-emotional, raw, and storytelling.
What more can we expect from you?
In September you can expect a really fun, Y2 K-inspired bop! After that, you’ll get to see a different side of me that is a little more raw and personal.