Montreal-based singer-songwriter Vikki Gilmore has launched her debut self-released album Mental Backroads – a magical deep-dive into the thoughts and feelings of Gilmore through indie-folk melodies.
The album features themes of self-discovery, love, family, mental health challenges and grief and each is explored beautifully, with Gilmore’s lyrics reading like poetry.
Her emotive lyricism pulls you into her world and you are enveloped by Gilmore’s ethereal vocals and swirling, magical soundscapes that leave you feeling warm, nostalgic and in awe.
This album is a true blessing for the ears and the soul – rich with feeling, depth and sincerity – with every track speaking to the truth of some element of human experience and feeling like a warm hug in musical form.
It was a pleasure to speak to Gilmore ahead of the release of Mental Backroads about all things music…
How would you describe the overall sound and style of your music?
The overall sound and style of my music can be best described as indie-folk with an intimate, acoustic vibe. I aim to create a musical atmosphere that feels like a gathering of friends sitting together, sharing personal stories, and playing the guitar.
Who are some of the key artists that have influenced your style and sound?
Definitely Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Phoebe Bridgers, Lana Del Rey, Lizzy McAlpine, and of course Taylor Swift! That’s a pretty broad list of artists but I like to think there are little parts of their influence in this album.
What was the inspiration behind your self-released debut album ‘Mental Backgrounds’?
I wanted to write an album that emulated the feeling of being on a road trip while simultaneously exploring the metaphorical adventuring we do on the road towards self-discovery. I was really inspired by my own personal experiences with grief, friendships, family, and love in all of its forms.
The moon was a big inspiration as well, with the first and last tracks discussing how the moon is always there to comfort us throughout our lives.
What was the creative process like for this album? Any challenges? Favourite parts?
This album wasn’t originally supposed to exist! At first, ‘If I Wrote You‘, ‘Claim My Throne‘, and ‘Stranded‘ were all songs stashed away in my songwriting book. I knew they held a special place in my heart but I was never ready to release them individually – it didn’t feel right.
In 2020, I had a lot of time to write music and decided I wanted to record some of them. I wanted to work with a variety of Canadian-based producers which started with ‘Stranded’ (Gert Taberner) and ‘If I Wrote You’ (Jacob Liutkus).
Earlier this year, I decided to just jump fully into the idea of releasing an album – a lifelong dream of mine. I always thought I needed a record label to do it and now I was going to prove to myself that I could do it independently! I recorded the rest of the songs with my longtime collaborator Mathieu LeGuerrier and decided on a date for release.
It all happened so quickly and along the way I doubted my ability to do it all: funding, marketing, creating music videos, planning a launch event, ordering merch and vinyl. But, I had a WONDERFUL support team of friends and family helping which made the experience so much more special to me.
Are there any particular tracks on the album that hold special significance to you? If so, why?
The title track ‘Mental Backroads‘ was actually only written after the album name was decided on and plans were in motion. I was inspired by the title and decided to pick up my guitar and see where my thoughts would take me.
The lyrics started flowing as I started singing about wondering what it would be like to have a conversation with my grandfather now about everything that has happened in my life since he passed away when I was a toddler. I think it took about 10 minutes total to write the song.
The lyrics flowed as quickly as my tears did and I knew this song would hold a special place in my heart. I’m glad I have a title track that matches the album because I really wanted to tell an all-encompassing story.
Do you have a favourite lyric or line from one of the tracks on the album? And why?
“Close your eyes, count back from five, it’s alright to feel alive” is one of my favourite lines on the album. It’s from the final track called ‘Pieces In The Black‘ and is probably my most vulnerable track. I wanted to write a song about how isolating it can feel to be lost inside your own mind, overwhelmed with anxiety and overthinking.
I pursued a degree in psychology because I’ve always been fascinated with the human mind and how deeply we can feel. This song was written as a comfort to myself, or perhaps my inner child, with the validation that it’s okay to have big feelings.
The darkness can feel overwhelming but is a part of who you are. I tried to write as if the listener is being lifted into the night sky to rest on the moon, where gravity isn’t as strong, and realise that all the stars in the vast darkness are an analogy for the beautiful moments in our lives.
What do you hope listeners take away from this album?
I hope listeners can find comfort in this album. I don’t expect it to make the Billboard 200 list but if even one listener feels safe, heard, and understood while listening, then I’ll have reached my goal as a songwriter.
It sounds silly but I want this album to be a warm bowl of soup on a chilly day, a background track to a dinner party filled with love and chatter, and maybe even a hug to someone that needs it.
Are there any specific places or environments that inspire your songwriting or creativity?
I genuinely feel safest to be creative when I’m home alone. Sometimes an idea will come to me and I’ll take a few minute break from whatever I was working on, grab my guitar, and try finding a few chords to match what I’m singing.
Sometimes I’ll jot down notes of quotes or thoughts I have throughout the day on my notes app and revisit them when I get home.
My bedroom has always been a safe space for me to create music, hum a melody, and record whatever snippets I can on voice notes so as to not forget. It’s a cathartic experience and almost feels like the world stops spinning for a few minutes.
Beyond your musical career, is there anything else you’re passionate about or involved in?
It sounds cliché, but I’m definitely a lifelong learner. I feel like I’ve been on a few side quests since 2020 just trying to get the most out of this life. I got a master’s degree, I started exploring my professional career and I’ve been exploring new interests like video games and F1.
I’m honestly just trying to find what brings me joy and having a blast along the way! I can’t wait to see what new passions I’ll discover along the way.
Can you share any details about your future projects, live performances or what’s next for you as an artist?
I have my first records for sale with this album. They’re a gorgeous sky blue and can be purchased here. I will also be hosting an album launch show on December 10th in Montreal at Le Ministere. Tickets will be going on sale soon! I’m so excited for this project to be out in the world and I can’t wait to see where it goes!
To keep up to date with the latest news from Vikki Gilmore, you can follow her on Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitter and Instagram. To listen to their latest releases, head to Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube.