Sofia Duhaime’s Crescendo to Stardom

Concordia Musician on Basement Recordings and the Struggle of Snagging Gigs

Courtesy Sofia Duhaime

The music industry in Quebec is widely recognized to be unique: folk music has historically been and still remains a core element of the province’s culture. Today, hundreds of musicians across Quebec work to keep that flame alive, and one local artist in particular manages to bridge the gap between modern and traditional through her own music.

Sofia Duhaime is an up-and-coming indie/folk singer-songwriter hailing from Gatineau, Quebec. She is currently living in Montreal to pursue her studies in Film Production at Concordia, while also navigating life as a musician in the vast and unpredictable Canadian music industry. She has been gaining success over the past two years through her expanding discography and extensive career as a performer – having opened for well-known Canadian artists such as Diane Tell and Serena Ryder. 

From a very young age, Duhaime had a passion for the musical arts. As a child, she became interested in musical theatre and attended summer camps that strengthened her love of song. In her early teenage years, she taught herself the guitar and then later began to focus more on the art of songwriting. By her second year of high school, she was participating in music events and competitions such as “Secondaire en spectacle”. 

However, over the past couple of years, finding gigs hasn’t always been an easy task for her. She has never had any close contacts with anyone in the industry, and so the hunt to find venues and spaces that would welcome her has been a solitary experience. She recalled what it was like at the beginning of her career to reach out and contact people for gigs. 

“I just kind of sent so many emails to random venues,” she said. “The hardest part wasn’t even the ‘no’s, it was the people who didn’t answer.”

Out of all the gigs she has done to date, Duhaime remembers the one that stood out to her the most. It took place less than a month ago, on January 12— opening for Olivier Faubert at L’Escogriffe bar. She described the lively energy at the venue, as well as the fact that she was able to perform new, unheard songs and received an encore for her performance. She said this was an environment she hopes to experience again in her upcoming performances this year. 

Duhaime released her first-ever single on music platforms in March of 2022 – a delicate piano track entitled “Miraculeux.” It is currently her number one song on Apple Music and her second-most listened to song on Spotify. In October 2022, she released what she described as her biggest project yet: the 5-song EP L’enfant. This EP was created with the help of two others – her boyfriend and bandmate Andrew Schmidt, who plays guitar and bass, and Nicolas Charette-Côté who plays drums and keyboard. The trio recorded L’enfant in Charette-Côté’s home studio. 

“We’re so proud of what we did because it sounds professional,” said Schmidt. 

The amateur setup in Charette-Côté’s basement was far from being a professional studio, yet the band is incredibly pleased with how high quality the EP sounds. 

There are two particular songs off L’enfant that Duhaime holds close to her heart. The first is “Berce-moi”, a jazzy yet somber instrumental paired with her smooth vocals. She feels that this is one of her more well-written songs, and adores the complexity of its backtrack. Next, there is “Nature’s Daughter”, an upbeat folk song about a mysterious girl and her connection to nature. Duhaime enjoys that this song — unlike most of her other tracks which are more melancholic — has a happier melody. 

Schmidt believes that Duhaime has taken a unique and effective approach to her music career. According to him, Duhaime’s choice to write lyrics in both French and English has allowed her to garner a larger audience. He recognizes that her ability to network and find valuable gigs for the whole band is noteworthy, and shows her dedication to her career as a musician. 

“In a few years there’s nothing stopping her from having a proper following,” Schmidt said.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 11, published February 7, 2023.