Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I am currently based in Brantford, but I’ve had one foot in Toronto for the past 4 years to complete my university degree. I’ve been living in two different worlds!
The music scenes are very different- Toronto is more active and Brantford is more sparse. Toronto also has diversity and opportunity that Brantford doesn’t offer.
How did you first start playing music?
The short answer is that my parents were highly involved in music, and I started pursuing songwriting and performing when I was 16. Before that point I had been in choirs and studied voice privately for many years! Taking control of the content that I’m singing and expressing myself has been liberating as a solo artist!
You have an EP about to drop, and it’s a part of a series coming! Please tell us why you’ve decided to release your music incrementally instead of a full album?
To provide some context, the music that I’m working on is a conceptual storyline, focusing on the emotional fallout of sexual assault. The upcoming EP tackles the initial interpersonal response, and a shift in social relationships. It is the most intimate part of the series.
By releasing this music in different parts, it encourages each song to be seen as important. I don’t want any pieces of the story to be seen as just another track on a 12 song record. Each recording has a unique purpose in conveying the story.
What has influenced the sound and songwriting for these EP’s?
Wow, what a question! Janis Ian is a major inspiration for me. I admire how emotionally vulnerable and honest she is in her work. The music she has released has empowered me to be as real as possible, even when it’s painful. Whenever I listen to one of her records, it feels like she is singing right in the room with me. I want people who listen to my music to have a similar experience.
On another note, the outspoken and brazen nature of bands like The Clash, Hole, and Flobots pushed me to not “sugar coat” my truth in any way with my songwriting. PJ Harvey’s album Rid Of Me embodies a fierceness that I sought to capture in my music!
With all of these diverse sources of inspiration, I decided I wanted this record to embody the depth of what I feel. I also wanted the music to sound like I’m in the room, singing directly to the person listening.
Where and when did you record and who did you work with?
I recorded the songs in Simcoe with Cultivate Music. Tyrone Harding is the recording engineer I’ve worked with, and my friend Riley Campbell adds percussion on select tracks. The music was all recorded this winter over 3 sessions!
What programs/instruments did you use?
I recorded the songs with my 4 string and 8 string electric octave mandolins, my acoustic octave mandolin and my Eastwood mandocello. I also did all of the vocals, except for one song where I have a secret guest singer. All of the instrumentation was captured live, and I re-recorded my vocals after we got the take we were proud of. The songs that are strictly solo were recorded live also.
You play some unique instruments which include the octave mandolin and mandocello. How did you come to play these instruments and what is it about these instruments that you most enjoy?
I started on mandolin, which was the gateway to the whole “tuned-in-fifths” family! I started playing mandolin because I wanted to learn Little Ghost by The White Stripes, and then I learned as many unconventional covers as I could.
My dad built me my first octave Mandolin as a solid body electric, and he has since crafted me a second 8 string octave mandolin with a twist- the G and D strings are octaves to give an even fuller sound!
My octave mandolin’s are especially important to me because of who made them. I’ve avoided guitar because of how common it is, and I enjoy the sound of my instruments and how they compliment my voice.
How would you describe your sound?
Honest, raw, atmospheric and poetry driven. I don’t like being put into a specific genre, I prefer being free to experiment and tell stories in the way they need to be told.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I go through phases, and I’m currently in a Streetlight Manifesto mood! They’re fun, high energy, and their songs take me away from the cold winter blues. Don’t get me wrong, they talk about life and growth, but they do it in such a way that’s matter of fact and blunt without being depressing.
How do you usually go about writing music?
For most of my songs I use melody as a way of articulating the poetry I’ve written. Their are special moments are where both elements are created simultaneously, but most of the time it’s just me setting my poetry to music. Every song is written differently, and I can’t just sit down and hammer out a song on the spot. It has to happen organically-I have to be inspired in the moment.
What do you want people to experience / take away from listening to your music?
My wish is for people to consider my words carefully, and take time to think about what I am saying as a whole. Every person’s listening experience is unique, so in acknowledging that I can only ask that people truly listen. I sing about the effects of trauma, mental health, and other heavy concepts that are important to have dialogues about. Sexual assault is not an easy thing to sing about, but I hope through me sharing that people feel more comfortable talking about it.
Do you consider yourself an activist? Why or why not?
I’ve noticed that some people assign the title ‘activist’ to themselves, and it doesn’t feel right for me to use it. I see the role of an activist as highly important and intrinsic to change, and I hesitate to give myself such an important label. Activists are held to a higher level of accountability, and the title must be used responsibly.
What do you have planned for 2019?
This summer I will be touring around Ontario and beyond! I’m excited to connect with as many people as possible. I will also be releasing more music, so stay tuned!
Any secrets that you care to share?
Hmmm…. that’s for me to know and you to find out!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Pad Thai is a favourite, and I love exploring new neighbourhoods and towns. I love walking on the Grand River trails in Brantford when spring hits!