'Yeah, it's insane."
That's all 19-year-old Montreal singer-songwriter Béatrice Martin can say to describe what has happened over the past few days.
The stars aligned. Fate smiled. But really, her leap to fame outside Quebec was propelled by two unlikely sources: Good Morning America and Hollywood gossip hound Perez Hilton.
Here's what happened.
Photographer Francis Vachon (whose website says he's Quebec City-based) made a time-lapse video of his baby son playing in the dining room. He happened to set the video to Ensemble, an infectiously bouncy song by Martin, who records and performs under the stage name Coeur de Pirate. Her music is indie, but she straddles the mainstream and has appeared in Elle magazine and other press.
Vachon's sped-up video of his nine-month-old boy has gone viral on YouTube since he posted it nearly three weeks ago, with hundreds of thousands of views - more publicity than Martin's Montreal-based indie label Dare To Care could ever hope for.
"I had nothing to do with it," Martin said yesterday by phone from Montreal. Vachon has since been in contact with Martin's people. "He was very grateful, and we were very grateful. It really was a good deal for us because that helped get us seen on iTunes in America and Canada."
Then Good Morning America ran a segment about the video. Martin didn't actually appear on the show herself, but there was her music playing to an entirely new North American audience. Then midday Monday, Perez Hilton posted an unexpected endorsement for Martin's French-language chansons and included a snippet of her song Comme des Enfants: "We have no idea what she is saying, but this is lovely!" Hilton enthused.
And even though he might not be known as an arbiter of taste, don't underestimate the effect his praise of Feist had on introducing that singer to an ever-growing audience.
Now for the big qualifier to this tale of chance. While Martin had no involvement with the viral video, Hilton or Good Morning America, things were still progressing quickly for the singer's career. She had already sold her song Ensemble for use in an upcoming television commercial in Quebec for the telecom company Telus. (This also puts Martin in good company with Feist, whose songs are on the soundtracks for a number of ads.)
"It has pretty much all happened all this week and last week. So I'm a little overwhelmed," Martin says.
She had already sold 22,000 copies of her debut album Coeur de Pirate, a highly respectable number in the Quebec market, since it went on sale in September. It is also nominated for a Juno award for best francophone album, and she has signed a record deal in France. But does she now plan to push into the anglo market?
"When it comes to my kind of music, lyrics are very important. It's more a dérivé of French chansons. So I guess it's going to be kind of hard for me to make it in the rest of Canada. But if I ever start singing in English, for sure."