Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I’m based in Toronto, ON and the music scene is vibrant here. There are so many talented wonderful people making ALL kinds of music, it’s hard to get out and see it all. There’s so much going on that it forces everyone to be the top at their game. The community is strong and collaborative, not competitive.
How did you first start playing music?
I grew up around music and took up piano lessons when I was five. I didn’t start singing until years later…
Your first big break came when you and two other young singers formed the group Take 3 (who went gold in Canada via UMC), which lasted a few short years which gave you an education in the music business. What did you learned from this experience?
Those years in Take 3 were a whirlwind and we were lucky enough to have a lot of people in our corner helping us along the way. Since we were young and inexperienced, we knew we had to work very hard to knock each performance out of the park. We practiced like crazy. We showed up to gigs, rehearsals, and recording on time. We never wasted an opportunity by phoning anything in. Since we never knew how long our success would last, we valued every moment being on stage or in the studio. I think that was the most important lesson – to remember that each minute spent making music is a gift, and not to take it for granted!
You’ve really delved into 70’s funk/soul tunes, why have you decided to take your music in this direction?
I’ve always loved the soul singers of the 60s and 70’s. In those classic records there was a message, a raw and honest delivery of the lyrics, there was imperfection and heart. There was pain and joy all mixed up together, and people were really saying something. With my own music, I strive to convey emotion through the singing itself, so perhaps in all those early days of listening to soul records, something about that style stuck with me. For the first time, on this EP, I ventured into 1970’s funk (with tunes like “Baby Wants to Dance” and “Mercy”) and that came from the simple fact that it just felt good. It felt good to write something with a driving dance beat, it feels good every time I get to sing it, and people feel good dancing to it. I also perform often with a horn section, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to go crazy on stage!
Who or what influences your sound and songwriting?
Inspiration for lyrics almost always come from my experiences with other people. But inspiration for music itself can pop into my head from literally anything – the light in a room, a particular mood, a phrase overheard in conversation, a memory, a dream…
I often don’t realize a particular moment is a song waiting to happen until I’ve had some distance from it, but when I look back on my experiences (and especially relationships), that distance allows me to see particular moments through a different lens and I’m able to write about it.
How do you usually go about writing music?
I have hundreds of voice memos on my phone. Mumblings and melodies, me plucking harmonies out of the air, usually sounding half asleep and mumbled… When I get a song idea I try to record the essence of what inspired me right way, as explicitly as I can, before it disappears. It’s like trying to remember a dream: there’s a small window where it feels fresh and close to my heart, but it’s fleeting. And in order to access that feeling later and draw out the rest of the song, I need to record down everything that surrounds the original idea. Then when I’ve got time to dig in, I’ll sit down at the piano and sort it out. I always feel like the song exists already, and it’s floating just above me, or maybe it’s somewhere inside, and I just have to find it and pull it to the surface. So it’s more a matter of trying out different chords and melodies until I can confidently say “yes that’s right, that’s what it’s meant to be.” When it’s safely jotted down either on paper or digitally, I’ll record a rough demo of it, and I won’t share the song with others until it’s at least at this stage. I need to feel sure that I honoured the original idea before I offer it up for collaboration and change.
What have you been working on recently?
This new “Heartbeat EP” has been my whole focus lately. Recording and releasing the record has been a complete joy! I just threw a big release show party last week with an 8-piece band to a full house… and can’t wait for the next live show. I’m also working on releasing a wacky and wonderful stop-motion animated video for Heartbeat in the spring! The next project will likely be a Christmas album — I’ve wanted to do one for so long and I think this is the year!
What do you like to do away from music?
Baking! I used to make wedding cakes on the side, but I’ve since scaled back! Now I just bake for friends and family – cupcakes, bagels, cookies, bread… doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s my favourite hobby. I get the urge to bake all the time! I also love spending time with Sophie my hilarious Jack Russell terrier… I love to garden, to cook and relax at home whenever I can.
What do you have planned for 2019?
I’ll tour this EP in the spring, and hopefully record a Christmas album this summer! I’d like to spend as much of the year playing live as possible! I’ll keep writing songs for the next record in between… I’m too excited to sit still these days 🙂
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Pizza 100%. I love leftover pizza in the morning with coffee! Or coming home from a late night show and remembering I have a slice of pizza in the fridge. My favourite place to hang out would be in front of a crackling fire with friends at the cottage!