Cinzia will not let anyone break her heart…not anymore at least.
She is one of the voices of strong women who battled the most terrifying beast of all, self-doubt, and won.
The Corona Virus might have delayed her ascent, but it will not stop her Rockstar trajectory.
Possessing a voice that can disarm, her new single “Don’t Call Me Up” is one of empowerment and strength. When an innocent text from an ex threatens to spiral her emotions back into the tight grip of heartbreak, Cinzia rises up and declares that it ends now.
Montreal Rocks spoke with Cinzia about her origin story, what she does when she is having a bad day, the meticulous efforts & amazing team behind Don’t Call Me Up, and the text message that sparked the song.
Montreal Rocks: Are you excited?
Cinzia: Yeah! Things have been really great. When you put out a new song, you never know if it will be accepted. So far, people are really connecting with it and it makes me really happy.
MR: I saw some of the posts & reviews on your live story which were really complementary. The last time I saw you was December 1st, 2019, opening up for the Monowhales at L’Escogriffe. I remember the place being jammed packed. You came on with the band, killed it…gave me goosebumps. After your set, half the people left!
Cinzia: That’s Montreal for you.
MR: It just goes to show that you have a dedicated fan base already. It was starting to bubble up, back them, supporting you at the shows…unlike your ex, apparently. <laughs>
Cinzia: You said it, not me.
MR: You said it in the song!
Cinzia: This is true. For me, that’s the biggest complement…to have people show up. I’ve always wanted to be a touring artist. Live shows are IT for me. The reason people get attached to me is the fact that the live shows are really something I put my whole heart into and people are vibing with that.
MR: Every superhero has a backstory. I want to go into yours.
Cinzia: My back story is so weird.
MR: First, these are the few things I learned about you so far, you will need to fill in the gaps. Your dad was into Country music, so you were surrounded with that growing up.
MR: You learnt guitar from an 8 fingered teacher.
Cinzia: Whoa…how did you find that? <laughs>
MR: You identified early on with Rock to feed your inner rebellion. Specifically, with one singer. Which of these, if any, made you say: I want to be on stage and sing?
Cinzia: Funny enough, he was a 9 fingered guitarist, I think…I can’t even remember now because I was 12. The one thing is that I wouldn’t stick to it. I had two lessons. “I’m over this!” I was too impatient as a child. I picked it back up again when I was 16 or 17. I don’t honestly consider myself a good guitarist. I play well enough to write.
My dad is a really talented singer. There would always be music playing, Garth Brooks or Brad Paisley. I fell into this music realm. My parents loved Bon Jovi, so sing-alongs in the car were a thing.
I actually studied music business when I was 20, which is why I say my story is weird. I walked into the artist lifestyle backwards. I was going to be a tour manager or booking agent. I felt like my writing wasn’t good enough and my voice was too strange. My voice has always been raspy, so I grew up with not the best complements for my voice as a 14-year-old. Now it fits me, so I’m fine with that.
So, I was going to be involved in music, but I wasn’t going to be an artist. I felt like I didn’t have a big enough drive to be an artist. I had friends who were artists and it takes a lot of work. It’s not just music anymore, you are doing everything…social media, admin, promotion. It’s a lot and I just didn’t think I had that in me.
*Shameless Plug: That’s why I started The Rock Star Today Podcast
After I studied music business, a friend of mine knew a producer who hear my voice. He said: Let’s do a song together.
OK, fine…but I wasn’t really into it.
I don’t know, I just fell into it. OMG, this feels great! The second we put out one song, it was transcending. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
The response from people was the biggest confirmation I have ever got in my life to pursue something. With that in mind, I met Gina, my past bassist, because we both worked at CHOM FM. We met, got along straight away like a house on fire. I told her I was starting a musical project, showed her a song and she was like: F-yeah, right away!
We became really close friends. Her husband Devon Lougheed, a great producer, produced the first Cinzia and The Eclipse song called Out of Love.
I pushed it to blogs and spoke to a lot of people and it got a good response.
I then put out the second single No Matter and I guess that’s where the story starts. It’s when people started connecting to the words I was saying, attaching their own stories to them and resonating with it. Since then, it’s been a positive response. Today, we are releasing Don’t Call Me Up.
MR: You mentioned one of your first influences was the first lady of rock-n-roll Janis Joplin.
Cinzia: My queen. Where is she? <Cinzia shows a vinyl record behind her>
That’s a live album I got in Toronto, after a really bad day. I found this random record store. If anyone is a fan of the movie Almost Famous, you know that when you have a bad day, you go to the record store and visit your friends. I miraculously found this live album. <Cinzia makes the sound of heavens opening up> It makes me very happy.
MR: Her last interview was in the Village Voice. She said something I thought might resonate with you: “It was really important, you know, whether people were going to accept me or not.” How important is that to you, to be accepted?
Cinzia: As an artist, it’s always a little bit important, because at the end of the day, I put out music to connect with people. This is my way to feel understood, because everyone who knows me, knows that I’m not super emotional. I don’t necessarily talk about problems as much as I should. Music does that for me.
My mantra about music is authenticity over everything.
My mantra about music is authenticity over everything – Cinzia
It needs to feel real, personal and natural. Being accepted is important up to a certain point, but not if it doesn’t feel right or if it’s not me.
Honestly, if my songs were not doing well right now, I would not do anything different because this is exactly what I want to be doing. I think that is why it connects with people.
MR: It’s why it fills you more, because if you are only going for the likes…those eventually go away and you feel empty.
Cinzia: Exactly. What’s the point of that? If you only pursue things for the likes and the follows, you end up feeling: What if I did what I actually want to do?
Why does it have to be a what if? Why don’t you do what you want to do?
That goes for everyone in life. I’ve never understood that.
MR: Being a musician, especially a singer/songwriter, is a mix of vulnerability and courage. What ratio do you have between vulnerability and courage?
Cinzia: I feel that I’m a little more courageous because I’m vulnerable. I need to get to a place, when I write, that I forget that I’m writing and that this is going to be heard.
I need to get to a place, when I write, that I forget that I’m writing and that this is going to be heard. – Cinzia
To reach that place of vulnerability, I need to be courageous enough to just blank everything out within myself or with my producer. Lucas (Liberatore) produced Don’t Call Me Up and everything else, except for Out Of Love.
You need a blend of both, but I definitely feel that I’m more courageous than vulnerable. You are vulnerable for a little period of time, while you are writing, then the rest is: OK…I’m going to put this out there. You have to be courageous enough to embrace your vulnerability and take it further.
MR: An to reveal it to a bigger audience.
Cinzia: Yeah, especially someone like me. I will not call up my mom and say: “My heart is broken!” It’s just not me. I just put it in the song…Oh s*%t, people are going to know! <laughs>
MR: So mom…she was broken hearted a couple of time…apparently. That is the underlying theme of the songs you released so far. What you release is a little more mellow than the rockier side you bring to the live shows…that crazy energy. It’s a mix of both, which is kind of cool. What’s going to happen to the songs when Cinzia is in a great relationship?
Cinzia: I will write love song then. I haven’t been in a relationship in a really long time because I don’t like forcing things. I don’t know…I’m a weird person and right now, it’s just not my focus. It’s about looking back at things and writing what I want to write. For some reason, I tend to write sad songs. It’s just what comes out.
When I’m in love, I guess I will write happy songs, but I’m not going to write happy songs if I’m not in love.
I do have unreleased happy songs.
MR: So, you have to go to the live show…one day.
MR: The new single Don’t Call Me Up hit Spotify’s new music Friday Canada, Indie Pop Chillout, among others. There seems to be more production behind this song, not just you and a guitar or a piano. Pardon the pun, but it might eclipse the 3+ Million streams of No Matter.
Cinzia: Maybe…hopefully. We put a lot of effort into this one. This is the first time I’m releasing with a team. I’ve always been protective of the stuff I’m doing, because it is personal, and I do want it to be honest. When I say that, I’m not just talking about the writing, but the people I work with as well. Luca, who produced Don’t Call Me Up is a close friend of mine. He’s the person I saw the most, last year, until this quarantine happened. I’m the type of person that needs a solid relationship with the people I’m working with, because I need to be comfortable with you and you need to be comfortable with me. I need you to understand what I’m trying to put out. This isn’t just Cinzia as an artist, it’s genuinely a part of me.
With Don’t Call Me Up, Lucas and I had maybe 5 different versions before we came to this one because it just wasn’t right. We took our time with it and hit every single second exactly how we wanted it. Jay Lefrebvre opened up his label Melophonix and wanted to sign me on.
We did a deal with Don’t Call Me Up and decided to release it together. Jay has been a part of my life for a year and a half, talking, coming to the shows…connecting on multiple levels. Everything I do is relationship based. He’s always been honest and real with me, so it was a pleasure to work with him. I trust him.
There was a lot more effort put into the song, a lot more people involved, who are invested, passionate and care about the project. That’s all I could want!
MR: Yeah. They say you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with.
Cinzia: Yes. I strongly believe that. I surround myself with friends who are better than me, because I want to be better. <giggle>
MR: Exactly. The spark for the creation of the song started with a text message from your ex. Why do you feel it’s important to move forward and cut out those negative ties to the past?
Cinzia: I can only speak for myself, but before that relationship ended, I never spent enough time on myself, really analysing myself. We tend to rely on other people to define us, when we really should be looking within, finding out who we are, before we invest our time in someone else, before we introduce ourselves to someone else’s life.
We tend to rely on other people to define us, when we really should be looking within. – Cinzia
In any romantic or friend relationship, there is a strong balance when people know who they are. When I got that message, I was so invested in this person. To get something that was so nonchalant… Honestly, he didn’t mean any harm, it wasn’t malicious…he really just thought: Oh, we are at that friends’ level. For me it was: No, we are not. You can’t be sending me something like that and think that I won’t feel something. I just didn’t want to feel that way anymore, so I wrote Don’t Call Me Up, which started a little bit angry. Don’t call me if you don’t love me! Then, that vulnerable side came out.
It’s not don’t call me because I hate you…it’s don’t call me because I’m still in love with you and I need time to get over that.
MR: It’s empowerment, taking control of your surroundings and your emotional state. You may go back to that friend zone…eventually…but only when you are ready.
Cinzia: Exactly. It’s really the time to know yourself and put yourself first. This is what I need right now, and not give in to something that would be so easy to give in to.
How many friends do we know and like that complain about the same story constantly and don’t more forward? You need a certain level of strength to be: No, I’m going to close this and focus on something else. That is exactly what this song is.
MR: You say at one point in the song: “Saying how you love my songs but can’t make it to the show.” It’s almost like you predicted the COVID-19’s effect on live music!
Cinzia: I didn’t try to, sorry….
MR: It’s not your fault, let’s put it that way. What are you and the band doing in these crazy times?
Cinzia: I’m an extrovert, so it was killing me at first to not be at concerts, the studio or go out with friends. I live outside of my house.
I think we are doing great. I had a chance to analyse what I wanted to put out as an artist with this single, take the time to really plan everything, talk with Lucas, brainstorm with Melophonix, and decide who we wanted to work with.
I hate to say it, but if we were able to go to concerts and restaurants, I would probably be doing that rather than planning my release, because I like being around people.
MR: I was talking about that on my Podcast, taking this time to have an introspective look into our lives, to see what’s important and how do I move forward when this gets, sort of, back to normal?
Cinzia: It’s also OK to do nothing. As an artist, I definitely felt pressure, the first two weeks to do something, some live, online music festival with Montreal artists…get involved here and there… We need to realize that artists are people too. They need to take the time to sit down and take in the effects of what is going on. But it was a good time to be reflective.
MR: You changed names for the band, you added The Eclipse. An eclipse is all about something blocking something that is behind it. Whatever happens in between, creates some sort of beauty. Which are you? Are you the object that is front and center, protecting or hiding what is behind? Are you the object behind, hidden from everything? Are you what is happening in between, that spills out on all sides?
Cinzia: The eclipse is so interesting, and I don’t think I have ever spoken about this. The reason there is an eclipse is because I don’t want to be at the forefront and center of everything. At the end of the day, I’m not. The songs wouldn’t be what they are without Lucas. Live shows wouldn’t be what they are without the band. To have something just titled Cinzia, for me, doesn’t make sense, so we added The Eclipse.
To me, it’s sort of the something in between. I genuinely feel that we are all a little bit of a lunar eclipse, in our lives. We are all whole moons, but sometimes we are half-moons because you are showing one side of yourself. Sometimes you are the other side of the moon because you are now that person.
I was on a Podcast a few days ago, talking about how some people have a personality when the camera comes on. I was arguing the fact that it doesn’t necessarily means it’s a fake personality. It’s just another side of that person.
The eclipse is really about embracing the evolution of who you are as a person, and it’s OK to sometimes be out there, enthusiastic. Sometimes, I am a moon that is eclipsed, and I want to be in my own way. I want to be introverted. We are all the eclipse. <laughs>
MR: It still spills out. Even if you can’t see what’s behind it, the effects of that synergy between the band, can’t help but spill out the sides. That really describes your live shows. It’s an explosion of passion. Everyone there is enjoying being together, you can really see that tightness. Like I said, I had goosebumps.
Cinzia: The fact that we are talking about live shows is bittersweet right now. I have memories that are amazing. I miss it.
MR: You participated in Honey Jam and also Canada’s Music Incubator. What was the biggest lesson that you walked away with, from that experience?
Cinzia: I went to Canada’s Music Incubator because of Honey Jam. I played No Matter there, just me and a guitar, which was extremely intimidating. This is at the packed Mod Club and all the other girls were amazing talented women who had bands backing them. I didn’t feel comfortable with a band I hadn’t played with.
People from Canada’s Music Incubator and Coalition Music had seen me perform and granted me the opportunity to come to Canada’s Music Incubator, the summer of the next year. It was two intensive months that really did shape everything I’m doing right now. I can say that with absolute confidence.
When I came back from that, I was so certain of what I wanted Cinzia and The Eclipse to be, the vibe and the person I wanted to be, that I think I almost gave Lucas a heart attack. I called him: All the songs are bad. We have to redo everything! <giggles> That’s why we had 5 different versions of Don’t Call Me Up.
To answer your question, it’s to be honest and authentic with your craft. That’s what is going to take you somewhere.
Before that, I didn’t have the confidence to believe that. There was someone who works at Coalition who told me: “You can do any genre you want with your voice.”
It’s weird to say, because now it seems like I’m talking about myself, but they said: “I don’t know why you have to box yourself in.”
That stuck with me. I did a little writing sessions with a producer from Toronto. There was this level of honesty that came out of that writing session. I’m going to carry it with me for the rest of my life.
MR: Interesting, because on Apple Music, almost every one of your singles has a different genre. I think you played around with the genres, but found your voice, so to speak.
Cinzia: I was testing it out. I’ve only been doing this for two years. I don’t have the years under my belt other artists have trying some of this or that. They find their niche, then wipe away their catalogue and start with what really works. I was in the testing stages at the beginning and I didn’t really know it. Yeah, so it’s a little sporadic on Apple Music.
MR: It’s sad because it’s 2020 and we still hear the words: All female band. Female fronted band. I’m sure I’ve used that term in the past, but it bugs me. A musician is a musician, regardless of who is behind the instrument. Vocalist are a little different. I think it’s OK to say it’s a female or male vocalist.
Honey Jam was more about empowering the female voice in the music business.
Cinzia: It was shedding a light on female Canadian musicians, which was amazing. It was a show where every woman was talented in a different way. It was so exciting to see so many women in one place belting it out.
MR: Let’s say you meet a young girl, looking at a guitar and a microphone going: Should I give it a shot? What would be your advice to that young girl?
Cinzia: Yeah! Why wouldn’t you give it a shot?
MR: What’s the worst that can happen, right?
Cinzia: Exactly. I hate living in a world of what ifs…it’s not something I can do. That’s why I scare people sometimes, because I’m very up front. I will just say it how it is.
I can’t imagine someone living in a life of: What if I did that? Why do you have to wonder that, especially if you are a young girl in a music shop. Of course! Get that guitar…force your parents to buy it for you! Save up…do something. Try it! You never know if you don’t try.
MR: There is nothing wrong with switching to another instrument.
MR: Or, like you, going behind the scenes and being a music mogul!
Cinzia: <laughs> There is this stigma about music: I’ve done this for so long, so I have to stick to it. I’m too old to start doing that. It’s completely false. It’s such a creative industry. You can pick up wherever you want. That stigma of I have to stick to drums, even if I don’t like it. That’s not true. You can pick up piano and maybe you will be amazing because you love that more and can pick it up in 6 months.
MR: It’s fun when you go to shows and the band members switch it up.
Cinzia: I love that! There is a really cool band, Flara K. They have a single coming out this Friday. They are a cool husband and wife duo. She will grab the bass sometimes, or the guitar and he is on synth. Then, he will grab the guitar or bass and I’m like OMG. It’s incredible, I love it.
MR: I want to ask you the Champagne question. We are opening up a bottle of champagne, one year from now, celebrating something you just accomplished. What is that?
Cinzia: Complete Canadian tour, obviously. I want to say North American, but a year is not very far. Definitely, some sort of monumental tour. 100%
MR: We might have to delay the 12 months because we don’t know when touring will go back to normal. I’m glad the industry is still doubling down on creativity. There is still great music coming out.
Cinzia: That’s the fun side of what is going on right now, it’s pushing so many people to get creative and appreciate art on a whole other level. We’ve always said: I love the arts, I appreciate it…but everyone will download music for free or try to get free tickets to a show because it’s your friend. Not to say that I want people to struggle, but I think people are really understanding the struggle of being an artist.
People are tipping when it comes to live Facebook shows. I had 3 people reach out to us on Instagram saying: Hey, can I buy a shirt? I know it’s hard times for artists right now. Let me contribute in some way.
There is just a lot of love coming out of this whole thing. It’s all about twisting it into positivity. I also understand that it’s hard times. It’s just so weird, the situation we are in right now.
MR: I wanted to start something called Give 5 Tag 5. Give $5 to a local musician, and challenge 5 friends to do the same.
Cinzia: Oh yeah, nice!
MR: Just 5 bucks. The exponential growth of 5 asking 5 asking 5…it might not pay your rent, but at least put a smile on your face…somebody cares.
Cinzia: It’s nice to be supported, as an artist. That is what is hard to understand about a 2020 artist, whether a musician or a visual artist, or a photographer. Many people think that the number of Instagram followers will define how much money you are making…but it’s really not the case. You can have 20,000 followers and still not be paying your rent because followers don’t pay rent…that actual support.
It’s nice to see it in the community, to be honest.
MR: I work with photographers at live shows. It’s sad, one of them told me: I’m a photographer, so I guess I took a vow of poverty.
I see bands that put up pictures from the show and don’t credit the photographer. At least give them that.
Cinzia: I totally agree. We did a show at Petit Campus, last year. My producer took a picture that I really liked. He’s not a photographer at all. I still tagged him because maybe that will bring other artists to his page. It’s that sense of community. I totally agree with you.
Even with the posts about the songs, I don’t think there is one post where I’m not calling up someone who helped me with something. It’s important.
MR: That’s why you chose the name.
Cinzia: Yeah, exactly. That is exactly why The Eclipse is there.
MR: I hope things go well with you and that at the end of the day, this is a growing experience for you. I think this song is going somewhere. I’m looking forward to following its trajectory.
Interview: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs.Share this :