Singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Emma Lamontagne landed a single’s deal the very
first time she performed a bonafide gig in 2016, winning a contest put on by the Ottawa
Bluesfest and recording “I Don’t Sleep” with songwriter/producer Robyn Dell’Unto. The
teenager at the time went on to achieve close to half-million streams for the song, but she wasn’t
happy with the electronic-pop direction her sound was going, so she took a break.
Now, with an audio engineering degree under her belt and a new home studio, Emma is back
with a sound that she wants: lyric-focused folk-pop. But live is where she also shines; her
between song banter is downright hilarious.
“You may have a career as a comedian who is also a singer OR a singer who is also a
comedian,” wrote one fan on her Instagram, alongside a clip of a song introduction about
relationships. “Ain’t nobody coming in my no-no square,” she said, waving her hand across her
private area, laughing. “I wish I could predict what I talk about on stage but at least everyone is
as surprised as I am by what I say,” she posted.
Born in Kingston, Ontario, as a child Emma was given both classical voice and piano lessons and
dabbled in various music clubs at school. The family moved around a lot because her father was
in the military, but they finally settled in Ottawa after Germany. There, her voice coach
encouraged her to write songs. She was 15. “I always wrote poetry, so the transition wasn’t too
difficult,” she says. “I've always been drawn to lyric-heavy music. I grew up listening to Elton
John, Billy Joel and Bon Jovi.”
A year later, she entered a cover song in the Ottawa Bluesfest competition She’s The One. The
finalists got to perform two songs at the concert with the grand prize winner selected at the end.
“I went straight into a record deal with Festival House Inc, which is the conglomerate of
Bluesfest and Cadence Music Group,” Emma says.
“I was part of the writing process for ‘I Don’t Sleep,’ but not part of the production process, so I
received the song completely finished and that's exactly what I heard when it was released. It
was pretty sweet to then see that it get picked up by CBC Radio 2 and I made it to the top 20. It
was a lot of fun.”
After the first single, she started co-writing with Alan Frew, Rob Wells, Aloma Steele, Josh
Bogert, Kayla Diamond and Ezra Jordan, and even performed for songwriting legend Linda
Perry at Canadian Music Week (CMW).
Just out of high school, she released two more singles, “Love Games” and “The Art of Reality,”
and her 2019 debut full-length, Uncomfortable Eye Contact. Everything was ready to go, but
when she met with a major label to further her career, they could tell she wasn’t keen on her
music. “It wasn't a sound that I could stand behind and perform every day,” Emma says, however
now she performs many of those tracks acoustically with far more conviction.
The album came out at the end of October 2019 and then covid hit. During that time, she parted
ways with her manager and focused on rebuilding her confidence. “I did a lot of virtual co-
writing with other artists, even artists that I probably wouldn't have met without the pandemic,”
she says. “I am very excited about it. I have even been building my own home studio.”
She describes her new sound as more organic. “I wanted it to feel very intimate and essentially
the way how I perform on stage with a guitar and vocals. I want that to be the base of it,” Emma
“The new songs that I've been putting on into my set on stage have a lot to do with growing up and facing what comes with life. They're very emotional, all about the lessons I've been learning and the experiences I go through day-to-day. I've been doing a lot of love songs, a few heartbreakers, but mostly trying to spin bad into good.
I thought with the pandemic I had enough of the depressing breakup themes, so I've been putting
more of a positive spin on my writing.
“I do a lot of writing to process things myself and then, I hope, that someone who hears it will
get the same benefit that I did.”