Sue Newberry & The Law

by the partae
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
Peterborough Ontario has a fantastic music scene that covers all genres!  Yesterday I was travelling through neighbourhoods for the annual “Porchapalloza” fest, as a part of Arts Week Peterborough 2018 – an annual week of art projects (visual, dance, music) that happens in locations across the city.  At Porchapalloza I saw classical, bluegrass, folk and big band Dixieland jazz played on friendly neighbourhood porches!  A few weeks ago my band released The Odds here in Peterborough as a part of a summer music series called “Quality of Life“ at a new art gallery in town, Evans Contemporary.  The series featured rock, rap, metal, indie, folk and more.  There are several small cafes and bars that feature local music, as well as larger venues for touring acts. The Peterborough Folk Festival is a free music festival that happens here every summer.

Please tell us about what influenced the song writing for your latest record ‘The Odds’:

There are album-wide themes and emotional explorations of navigation through life. The theme of having to choose between comfort and courage shows up in many of our lyrics and soundscapes throughout the record. The fantastical maps and navigational charts that adorn the album’s packaging (artwork by James Downe) reemphasize that you are indeed heading somewhere. Or more accurately, that we are heading somewhere, together.
Where and when did you record?

We did the majority of our recording in 2016 at Inception Sound Studios in Toronto, and Revolution Recording in Toronto.

Who did you work with on the album?
Bret Higgins (Great Lake Swimmers, Sarah Slean  ) worked with Sue for pre production and production. David Hermiston (Donovan Woods, Twist) returns as recording engineers on this recording – we worked with him on our last EP. What takes this collection to the next level, however, is the post-production work on Joshual Van Tassel (Amelia Curran, Justin Rutledge, David Myles). The band purposefully recorded songs with post production space in mind. Joshua worked with us to sculpt, sequenced and soundscapes our compositions into an incredibly well-finished set of work. The result being as welcome on heavy-rotation pop radio as it would be in the earbuds of musical connoisseurs. Steve Major mixed and mastered the album at Verge Music.
How do you usually go about wiring music?
I (Sue) begin the writing process on my own with my guitar or piano. Skeletons of songs are brought to the band to be workshopped into multi-layered indie-synth-pop creations. One of my favourite ways to write is putting aside a weekend for a ‘writing retreat’ – (preferably at a cottage in the forest somewhere!) and setting up a boatload of instruments, whiteboards, sketchpads and recording equipment and slogging out a few 12 hour days just working and reworking and experimenting.  I find it to be an incredibly invigorating and inspiring time, and we always come out jam-packed with fresh ideas and sounds.
How has Peterborough shaped your creative process?
Many band members have at one time called Peterborough home, and I myself have moved between Peterborough and Toronto over the past decade. Living in a different city from the band means I am doing much of the initial writing myself, and bringing tunes to the band as described above. Peterborough is small enough to leave my house and walk anywhere in town to see music – but large enough to have diverse and passionate artistic community. There are many opportunities in town to be a part of grassroots movements, artistic endeavours and political activism. All of this shapes who we are as citizens, and who we are as artists.
Now that ‘The Odds’ is out, how do you feel about this album as compared to your past releases?
Ah, we love this record!  It feels pretty amazing to say that. I often come equipped with the ‘eternally unsatisfied’ attitude toward my creations, as many artists do. We took our time with this album, and worked closely with a team of people who understood our vision. This album moves further into the realm of synthetic pop rock, and away from a more folk-rock vibe of our last album. The band worked closer with each other on the arrangement and production of the songs on THE ODDS, and I can hear that shift throughout the album. It is more cohesive as a whole.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?
We continue to market and represent THE ODDS, as it is only a month old! We’ll continue interviews and radio play, as well as some live performance in Ontario throughout the remainder of the autumn. Going into 2019 we are looking at some music videos and visual art project collaborations to go along with the album. We’ll continue writing and playing live shows.
How did you first start playing music?
I began signing at a very early age as a participant in school choirs and as a soloist. I am self-taught on guitar, and used songwriting as a means of journalling and self-discovery through my adolescence. I studied classical vocal music in University as well as theatre, and began singing with bands. I have toured throughout Canada on my own and as a part of different musical outfits, hitting up festivals and venues across the country.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

 The new Metric, Rose Cousin’s “Natural Conclusion”, the entire Cab Calloway collection. I’ve been figuring out if I love or hate the new Beyonce/JayZ collaboration, and I’ve definitely been soundtracking much of life this month with a new EP from Toronto’s music/poetry outfit called Tidal Mouth.

Favourite food and place to hangout?
Wenona Lodge in Toronto on Sunday evenings. There is a music series called “In Basements on Sundays” that is run by my brother, David Newberry. It’s an early evening (my new favourite social time) 7-9pm and features weekly guests. I have seen and taken part in evenings featuring, dance, poetry, comedy and music mash-ups. Wenona has great food and craft beer, and this space can’t be beat for an intimate look at the Toronto art scene.

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