Interview with Canadian musician Basqi

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Basqi

Finding Basqi

Forever the curious person I am, I clicked on Basqi’s profile when I saw it on my Instagram story. I saw that he’s a Toronto musician and we follow a bunch of mutual people.  I love that Basqi has music clips on his page. I point this out because it’s feedback that I give to musicians who don’t have any video clips or music samples on their page – I encourage them to add some. In the few seconds that you have someone’s attention, it could be a chance at getting a new fan.  Anyways, Basqi has another huge fan (me) because of this.

Contact

Instagram: @basqiofficial

Facebook: @basqiofficial

Music

Lost Souls – single (2021)
Myself – single (2021)
Pick Up the Pieces – single (2021)
Tell Me – single (2021)
Not Sorry – single (2020)
Control – single with Tommy O (2020)
Lies – single with Purple Mind (2020)

About

Basqi is a Toronto-based singer, songwriter, producer, photographer and videographer who enjoys collaboration work with other musicians and chillin’ outdoors with his dog.

Photo credit: Basqi

Interview

Me: On one of your posts, you wrote that Myself was inspired by how you felt during this COVID-19 pandemic.  Although my life wasn’t affected too much, I can totally relate to this song. I like the lyrics “lately feels like I’m just going through the motions to feel right. I’m just trying to find a moment to feel like myself.”  I spend a lot of time not feeling like myself and being inside my head wondering where my life is going. Pandemic-wise, lots of people have been deeply affected by the isolation and changes brought about by it, so it’s amazing how you took a life experience and spun it into a beautiful song. What are other sources of inspiration for your music?

Basqi: Thanks, I’m glad the song really resonated with you! Honestly, most of my music comes from my struggles with my mental health issues like depression and anxiety. I also tend to write a lot about personal relationships – romantic and non-romantic. I’ve been trying to find inspiration in other places, but right now during the current state of the world, it’s been hard.

Me: No kidding about the state of our world. When I reached out to you for an interview, I sent you a link to Stuck on Planet Earth’s interview as a sample. You said that you knew Al (singer/bass player) and that he is your cousin…our six degrees of separation!  I came so close to meeting you at Stuck’s concert in Brampton back in November 2021, because you told me that you were their videographer for the evening. You are truly multi-talented.  When I suggested that you share a stage with Stuck, you mentioned that you have never performed live before.  What are your upcoming plans musically?

Basqi: I do plan to perform live as soon as I possibly can. But right now, it’s proved to be hard due to lockdowns. In the meantime, I’m just working on new music and trying to build a bigger catalogue of songs. I also stream music production and performance on Twitch occasionally, but I’ve been terrible at promoting that fact lol and I should do it more often.

Me: I’m happy to hear that you plan to perform live. There’s nothing like experiencing a live show. I’ll definitely be there! How old were you when you discovered your talent for music and what’s the first instrument you picked up? Also, other than guitar, do you play any other instruments?

Basqi: My first instrument was actually the guitar. When I was in Grade 3, we had a guitar club and I was somehow able to convince my parents to buy me an acoustic guitar and let me join. Even though all the small acoustic guitars back then were still way too big for my tiny body, I still tried to play. I then moved on to drums when I was around 13. The way I remember it, my dad and I would often go to Long & McQuade because I loved to look at and play all the instruments. And he’s a great dad. So, we were there one day and I decided to play on the drum-kit and one of the salespeople walked up to my dad and said something along the lines of “he’s pretty good” (which I think they probably say to every parent there with their kid) and next thing I knew we were taking home a kit that day lol. I also played alto sax from Grades 6-12, and I say played because I haven’t touched it since graduating. Besides those, I dabble a bit with the piano for production purposes. To answer the part about when I discovered my “talent” – I don’t really know. I still don’t consider myself to be talented really. I do consider myself to be a hard worker though, and I’ve come a long way from where I started.

Me: So modest about your obvious talent and sweet that you speak highly of your dad. It’s rare that people openly say nice things about their parents! All of your tunes are catchy and relatable. I love your song Not Sorry about a toxic relationship. Lyrics go “toxic behaviour, and I ignored the warnings to deal with later, and now they’re back to haunt me… why are so toxic…I’m feeling like a target…pushing my buttons like you can control me…play games with my mind…” It sure sounds like you had a relationship gone bad. What advice do you have for others to be able walk away from those types of relationships?

Basqi: Thanks, I appreciate that! My advice would be to just know your worth, know that you are good enough and that another person can’t define you or make you feel any less than you are. Seek advice and listen to the people around you who truly love and care for you – like close friends and family. Seeing things from another perspective (especially from a perspective of somebody that deeply cares for you) can change everything.

Me: I completely agree about knowing and realizing your self-worth. I wrote a story on Instagram before with the line “No one is worth pretending for” and it’s true that you should be authentic and kind to yourself first. I see from your posts that you skateboard and spend time outdoors with your dog. As Myself was inspired by how you felt during the pandemic, what else have you been doing to destress?

Basqi: Honestly, it’s been hard recently, but I pretty much do the same things. I’ve just been making music, hanging out with friends and hitting up open mics (when that was possible, not long ago).

Me: That sounds pretty chill. Based on your posts, you’ve done some collaboration work with Purple Mind on Lies, and Control with Tommy O.  BTW – I added Lies to my music collection – great song. How would you compare the collaboration process versus producing music individually?

Basqi: I enjoy the collaborative process a lot. Tommy is a long-time friend who I’ve been collaborating with as a producer and audio engineer since before I started releasing my own music. And Purple Mind I actually met through a discord server that’s for producers and musicians. They’re actually based in Germany, so collaborating with them was an interesting process. It was all done remotely via discord and sending of recordings via email, and that was a first for me. To compare it to my solo process, I actually find that I’m more motivated when working with others and really enjoy the different energies that different minds provide to the writing and production process.

Me: I can imagine that collaboration work would be interesting with musicians coming from different backgrounds with their own ideas. It seems that you manage your own socials like many other musicians. Seeing the way I discovered your handle – do you have any advice for musicians with respect to building a social media presence?

Basqi: Honestly, lately I’ve been slacking off. I don’t think I’ve been active on any socials in over a month. But if I had advice to give it would be, post often and be your authentic self. Nothing creates a more genuine connection with your audience than just being the real you.

Me: Agreed. Your authenticity definitely shines through on your page. I can’t avoid this “get-to-know-you-better” question because I find that knowing what type of music someone listens to says a lot about them. Who are your top 3 musical influences or favourite musicians? And don’t feel obligated to say Stuck on Planet Earth lol!

Basqi: I always find this kind of question to be so difficult because my musical taste ranges so much. But right now, I guess I’d say Blink-182, Blackbear, and The Wonder Years. It’s a bit of a random list and probably not my all-time top 3, but these are some artists I’ve been listening to for a very long time and connect with, as well as draw inspiration from.

Me: Nice. And so many musicians I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to take a listen. I’m looking forward to new music and your first show.  Thanks again for your time! Everyone, check out Basqi’s music. Show him some love by giving him a follow on socials, stream/buy his music and attend a live show when the city is alive again.

Basqi, is there anything else you would like to share?

Basqi: Nothing I can think of, besides check out my music and follow me on social media lol.

—End—

Check out these wicked tunes!

Interview with Kevin Young, Jonathan Gallivan and Jeff Pearce of Canadian Band: Moist

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Jeff Nedza

By Monica Ng

“End of the Ocean” – anticipated album release date: January 2022! Pre-save your album now on most music platforms.

Cloud 10

OMG, the view from Cloud 10 is pretty darn sweet! I’ve been a Moist fan for more than 25 years, so after I started doing musician interviews on my website, I reached out to them for an interview. Seeing them rock the stage right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, reminded me why I love them so much. These guys are only getting better and hotter with age. Recently, Moist started to follow me on Instagram. Ok, you got me…just a little bit of bragging! Anyway, that was my cue to keep sharing the music that has kept me going all of these years.

Contact

Instagram: @moisttheband
Facebook: moistonline
www.moistonline.com

Music

Dying for a Light in the Dark – single (2021)
Put the Devil on It – single (2021)
Tarantino – single (2021)
End of the Ocean – single (2021)
Glory under Dangerous Skies – album (2014)
Mercedes Five and Dime – album (1999)
Creature – album (1996)
Silver – album (1994)
Self-titled 9 song indie cassette (1993)

About

With their albums Silver, Creature and Mercedes 5 and Dime going multi-Platinum, this Canadian band rocks on a whole different level. Formed in 1992 in British Columbia, Moist is currently made up of David Usher (vocals), Mark Makoway (lead guitar), Jonathan Gallivan (guitar), Kevin Young (keyboard), Jeff Pearce (bass) and Francis Fillion (drums). With over 1.3 million albums sold worldwide and a couple of Juno Awards under their belt, Moist pushes full steam ahead with their upcoming album, End of the Ocean.

Interview

Me: Hey guys! Thank you so much for sending me to Cloud 10. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d be interviewing you.  In a message to Kevin, I told him I’d be on Cloud 9 if he agreed to an interview. I had just climbed to the top of a hill on a hike when I saw his reply that it was a go. My hikers were floating the rest of that trail…

Here’s the quick story of how I travelled from Cloud 9 to Cloud 10. I was chatting with Jon about his journey of self-healing and asked if he’d be interested in participating in the interview as well. His yes bumped me to Cloud 10. Then when Jon got busy with his work, Kevin suggested that Jeff could join instead. Jeff was amazing to quickly step in. But when Jon managed to send me his responses too, I made it to Cloud 10.  All this cloud talk may sound silly, but bottom line – I’m ecstatic and just love these guys. Truly, they rock my world!

I foolishly thought it would be easier to prepare my interview questions because I’m such a huge fan, but it actually took me much longer to formulate them.

So many bands have come and gone over the years.  What made you guys decide to take a break after David went on his own?

Kevin: We decided to take a break mainly because ever since we’d started Moist it was all-encompassing. The attitude was very much ‘there is no try, do, you must’. So, after all the time we’d spent together I think we all just needed to stretch out a bit. Now, Jeff and I went out on the road with David’s solo gig pretty soon, relatively speaking, after Moist decided to close up shop for a while. We had no idea it would be 13 years, or less, or more, or if that was it for Moist. But when we started the band – and I often say this to musicians starting out – one of the most important things for us, individually and collectively, was that we were all equally committed to the band, to making music for a living. A problem that often crops up with bands early on is that one or two people like the idea of it, but it’s not life or death – if you get my drift. So, one or two band members decide they want out when things get tough, or are afraid they’ll miss an opportunity to do something else they either love as much (or more) than music, or life gets in the way, or discover they can’t stand the other people in the band, or whatever. We’ve had disagreements. We’ve fought, and bitched and complained and fought some more, but at the core we were, and remain, really close friends.

Jeff: Exactly what Kevin said. We had been living in the Moist bubble for what seemed like a very long time, so by 2000 it was time for us all to swim out of it for a bit. One cool thing that happened with that is that David wanted to keep recording and he asked us all to contribute as co-producers, so that gave us all room for some professional growth.

Me: It’s great that you guys had a chance to try out other things, but I’m really happy that you’re back together and making Moist music magic. What have you guys been doing since the release of your last album Glory Under Dangerous Skies in 2014? And what made you decide to get things going again?

Kevin: We did a fair bit of gigging after Glory came out. We knew we’d end up back in writing sessions and eventually in the studio, but with the 25th anniversary of Silver looming we ended up focusing on that. Putting together the 25th anniversary edition of Silver took up time and inevitably led to getting Jeff back in the fold to go out and play the album live in 2019. Which, inevitably, led to the bunch of us gathering up our bits and pieces of what we’d written individually over time and firing up the mighty Moist meatgrinder we call a songwriting process. And, lickety-split, out popped End of the Ocean.

Jeff:  As for what we have been doing, we all find ways to pass the time when we aren’t doing Moist stuff. We are all fortunate to have many different ways to stretch our musical muscles. But coming back into the band always feels so comforting after not doing it for a bit. The songs are so imprinted into our personal styles of performing.

Jonathan: I don’t think there was any doubt, after recording and touring Glory Under Dangerous Skies, that there wouldn’t be a follow up offering. Beyond the Silver tour, I was still playing guitar for David’s solo shows – acoustic and electric – as I had since 2007. David was doing – and is still doing – regular speaking engagements on creativity and artificial intelligence, and I’ve always joined him with an acoustic guitar for those.

Me: Kevin, I like your meatgrinder reference. I can appreciate the amount of creativity and work that goes into a song. I’m always interested to know how musicians got their first taste of music. How and when did you guys first get started and what’s the first instrument that you picked up?

Kevin: Piano. Age 6? I think. My mother plays. She was my first teacher. Even then I wanted to write music. The first time I performed though, was on Euphonium. My folks were Salvation Army officers, so playing in the SA band was my first long-time gig. I also recall a very dubious sixth-grade talent show where I played a ‘selections from Star Wars’ bit, alone – and very poorly – on Euphonium. Piano seemed a better bet.

Jeff: Ukulele I believe, and probably in grade 5… Still love the uke and managed to sneak a bit of it into one of the songs on the new record. Then I graduated to other stringed instruments. I also played trumpet in high school, but I was pretty terrible. My mom told me, years later, that she was sitting with a friend at one of my school band’s recitals, and her friend at some point turned to her and said ‘Jeff really holds that trumpet well”. Our band teacher was pretty happy when I moved from trumpet to bass.

Jonathan: My parents had a stereo with dual tape decks. At about eight years of age, I would experiment with anything that could make a sound and record it. Then I’d play it back on one tape deck and record another sound on the other. I’d do that over and over until the initial sounds were almost totally imperceptible, but I’d built these “multi-track” songs that I wouldn’t share with anyone.

It wasn’t until I was about 10 that my Mum signed me up for electric guitar lessons. I had this amazing guitar teacher with a hippie-vibe and hair to match. He taught me it wasn’t so much about the notes that I was playing as it was the space between the notes that created the magic. This has always stuck with me as my sort of musical mantra.

Me: Jeff, I’m looking forward to hearing the bits of ukulele. Jon, I love the visual of your early experimentation with recording. You guys are so talented.  There are not many six member bands and even less who have a keyboardist. I love how your instruments sound together and how your music is perfectly layered. Your professionalism on stage and everything you guys do is, bar none. How do you manage to work together/manage conflict and can you describe your creative and songwriting process?

Kevin: First, are you sure you’re talking about Moist? I mean, it’s been almost two years since we’ve gigged regularly – you know what they say, ‘absence makes cold, hard analysis utterly impossible’ (or something like that). Kidding. That’s very kind of you to say.

Live, we’re lucky to have an excellent FOH engineer in Canadian legend, Matt Lamarche, whose skills in mixing the sounds of the night are very finely honed. On record, well, getting from conception to completion can be a bit of a shit fight.

As I said, our songwriting process is a bit of a meat grinder. Everyone comes in with ideas, bits, full songs, and then the lot gets cut up, put back together, fussed over, and argued about until we’ve got something that, collectively, we’re good with. Then – in the time between writing and recording – some bits fall out of favour and, generally, we take what’s left and record it. Then, we decide there’s at least one song we’re not good with and try to ditch it. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it isn’t. Honestly, there are songs, Black Roses from Glory being one of them, that we very nearly didn’t keep that ended up being tracks that really hit the spot live.

Going through all that requires having thick skin. But conflict, in part, helps make the result better, I think. We’re often blunt and brutal with each other when we don’t dig what is going on – the downside is there’s weeping and wailing – the upside is as a unit, we’re stronger and so, I think, are the songs/records we put out.

Over to you, Gallivan, you sexy beast…

Jonathan: After working on David’s solo work for many years, the boys invited me into the songwriting process for Glory Under Dangerous Skies. One thing is for certain with this band… there’s never a lack of ideas. Kevin’s right about the blunt and brutal bit. But, when someone presents an idea, everyone has their say. And we either move ahead working on it, or let it go. I find it to be a quick and painless process, with minimal weeping and wailing. Kevin always has a flair for the dramatic.

Occasionally, one of us might be extremely passionate about a rejected idea and re-enter it at a later point in the sessions. And, sometimes, the band can be persuaded to give it a shot. But, if it’s not accepted, nobody takes personal offence. The idea finally just gets filed away for personal use, or tossed away, and we get back to the business of what’s best for the band. It’s very democratic.

Me: I love the comradery – it’s refreshing. Thanks for sharing what goes on behind-the-scenes. You guys were like untouchable rock stars in the old days. I remember standing in line at HMV back in Montreal for your autographs with nothing to say. Now I see that rock stars are people too…haha.

Your 25th year Silver album anniversary tour was totally rocking! You guys were so much fun on stage and I remember David saying that after so many years you don’t give a F**k about anything anymore. Kevin, you did a keyboard solo with improv banter between you and David, and Francis did a never before seen (at least when I’ve seen you guys on stage) wild drum solo. That was so amazing and memorable.

Things are quite different now with social media. It’s so much easier to share and communicate with others.  I have to credit social media for this interview because I couldn’t have reached out to you guys if not for it. It’s interesting to see your posts and what you guys are up to.  Kevin, you are so silly! I love your candid selfies in your posts – especially the one with the fancy goggles. I see that you have a couple dogs and a boxing bag in your backyard. Other than boxing and walking your dogs, what else do you do to stay in shape physically and mentally?

Kevin: What can I say? After spending 30-plus years with the guys, getting a bit goofy helps take the edge off. As does having two adorably obstinate Labs. Most of the time.

I’ve always needed an outlet for excess energy – it goes in phases. On tour, I used to bring a bike with me, or a skateboard or I’d just run. Not just to stay in shape, but to see more of wherever we happened to be. That’s key to maintaining mental stability on tour for me. That, and hiking, swimming, and of course, taking the piss out of the other guys whenever possible.

The boxing is for training only – if I ever actually got in the ring, someone would end up unconscious and bloody and that someone would be me – I started that about three years ago. Everyone was telling me I need to relax, that I should do yoga, but I figured hitting stuff would relax me more than yoga ever could. Seems to work. The heavy bag in the yard has been a blessing during the pandemic.

All that said, one of the keys to mental health for me during the pandemic was doubling down on playing and practicing. Whether I’m learning music, writing, or just messing around and improvising – I can just get lost in it and shut anything out that might be driving me crazy.

Me: How about you Jeff, you what’s keeping you mentally sane during this pandemic?

Jeff: I am lucky to have a family that keeps me sane. We’ve done lots of projects around the house, like building a computer for my son, a shed for me and a pool for my wife. We also live in an area that has been pretty mild in terms of cases, so we have kept socializing with friends and family, although at a safe distance.

Me: And Jonathan, you’ve been posting lately about spiritual and natural healing. You mentioned during one of our chats that you feel there is a disconnect between nature and our souls. Why do you say that and describe the journey that you are on?

Jonathan: I reached a mental low point in April, and my sister ended up flying me out to British Columbia. She and her husband have been at the forefront of amazing healing work with plant medicines, and I was able to experience some incredible deep and life-changing journeys within.

The short story is that I’ve been able to reconnect with my soul – a connection that had been waning since my 20s. Rather than reacting to situations based on ego or pre-programming from childhood, I’m now able to respond by trusting that my soul knows what’s best for me. I’m seeing anger, fear and grief as gifts, or signals, that there is something within me that needs integration.

I think we all have traumas that we need to heal, so I’m taking plenty of time for myself every day to look within and be present with what my body is revealing to me. Each morning I prepare some Cacao and have a ceremony where I set intentions for the day. Cacao is a powerful, heart-opening plant medicine itself, and I find making it a ritual offers me plenty of insights and sets up the day for creativity and joy.

Me: I’m glad that you guys have found ways to manage your stress. Jon, I’ll be following your journey on socials. I bought tix for your Saints and Sinners Tour with The Tea Party, Big Wreck and Headstones – but the tour was rescheduled once and has now been cancelled altogether. I’m bummed out, but not surprised because of COVID. Was your album somehow inspired by the pandemic? How did you manage to put together the songs on your album without a recording studio?

Kevin: We were recording at Revolution Recording in Toronto just before the pandemic was declared. So, we got a lot in the can over six or seven days of being all set up, all playing together, doing a bit of arranging and rearranging of the tunes, fine-tuning tempos, and getting Francis’ drums recorded. Quite a bit of keys, guitars, and bass we kept from that.

Honestly, we thought we’d get back to it and get together to record overdubs in a month or so. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, we all hunkered down in our home studios and recorded ourselves. That, to be very clear, is not the way we generally work. The back and forth, arguing about fiddly bits, pushing each other to nail a part or performance differently – it’s aggravating at times, but I much prefer that to recording alone. For Moist, recording has typically been very much a team sport (full contact – at least verbally).

Jonathan: We generated many of the arrangements and song ideas for End of the Ocean at Studio Base Bin in Montreal starting on January 30th of 2020. Mark and I had a dedicated laptop opened up to the John Hopkins COVID-19 virus tracker page…that was when there were only a few hundred cases worldwide. So, it’s hard to feel the record was influenced by the pandemic… especially when everyone else in the band thought it would be done in a few weeks.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So, once it became clear we’d be working from home I did the best thing for myself…and Mark…I didn’t record any new guitars at home. All my guitar takes on the record come from those initial drum and bass sessions at Revolution. What I did do was buy myself a new vocal microphone and rent an awesome Universal Audio compressor. I don’t ever remember spending so much time on backing vocals on any album, but I really got into it. Sometimes you can feel a bit rushed in the studio doing BGs. But, in the privacy of your own home, you can take as long as you need to get it right. It’s your house, after all.

Jeff has an amazing ear for harmonies, and I essentially matched him note for note. Doubling Jeff and Kevin’s harmonies made me really appreciate the harmonies on all the Moist records over the years.

Me: Home studio recording seems to be the trend with other musicians who I’ve interviewed. I suppose that everyone had to adapt to this pandemic way of life. My all-time favourite albums are Silver and Creature. I’m listening to your music right now as I put this interview together. You guys have put on so many concerts over the years. What’s your memorable concert and why? And do you ever get tired of performing?

Kevin: There have been times I’ve burned out on the road. And when we’ve collectively had enough. We did take 13 years away from Moist after all. But the short answer. No. I absolutely love playing live. We all do. It’s the spot where there’s no daylight between putting something out there and getting feedback. It’s glorious.

The pandemic…About six months in I realized it had been the longest I haven’t been on some kind of stage, playing some kind of instrument, since I was about 9-years old. That’s small change compared to what many others have had to deal with. I know. But I missed it deeply. Still, I’m a very lucky human given the struggle so many others have had during the past almost two years.

As for memorable shows…Well, loaded question, I fear. I’ve got favourite shows – two in particular that weren’t Moist concerts, and gigs where everything went off the rails and felt horrid, but mostly – I’m getting quite on in age remember – it’s a patchwork of memorable moments, too many to list. But off the top of my head: That time at McMaster back in the 90s when security didn’t realize David was in the band and tried to throw him out for tackling Mark on stage; that time at Fort Erie when I would have been happy to help them toss David out after he soaked my keyboard in water mid-show, and, most recently, the Silver anniversary Horseshoe gig where our illustrious backline tech, Connor, had to hold my keyboards up so I could keep playing after my keyboard stand collapsed.

Jeff: I have never gotten tired of performing. In fact, there are moments still when we are playing where I suddenly get a third person perspective on what’s happening, and I think about how amazing and lucky we all are to be able to do this crazy thing!

Jonathan: Ah! That’s a tricky question as there have been so many great memories from the road. Playing to a packed crowd in my hometown of Toronto at the Danforth Music Hall was a definite highlight. Or, having my Mum, Dad and sister in the front row at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver would be another one.

The Moist fans truly make performing such an incredible experience. Feeling the energy rise as the concerts move along are like nothing else life can offer. The past two years have been hard, not being able to play shows. Plus, spending time with the boys rehearsing and travelling is kind of like free therapy…and I miss that a lot.

So, even though it was a bit of a kick in the gut to be playing just one show in Ottawa this past September (seeing as we were supposed to be touring Canada all November), it may now be top my list of favourite shows. Everyone seemed so happy just to be out and about, and we were so happy to be on stage. It didn’t matter that we were rusty and making plenty of mistakes…it was just about pure connection with the fans as human beings living through a crazy time. It was beautiful energy.

Me: Wow, it’s so great to hear stories about your experiences. Kevin, you mentioned to me that Put the Devil On It is one of your favourite songs on your upcoming album.  The song is a commentary about former US President Donald Trump. I was reading some of the “lively” comments in response to that song on your social media page. What about this song makes it a favourite?

Kevin: LOL – my favourite song changes often. Currently, it’s the title track. But ‘Devil’ reminds me of tracks from the way back, like Break Her Down and Shrieking Love tunes that grew over time, both from writing to recording and then again over time on stage – with room to flesh them out. Lyrically, too, ‘Devil’ is a song that can be interpreted in different ways. What it means to Put the Devil On It depends on your point of view.

My read on ‘Devil’ is not that it’s a commentary about ‘he who shall not be named’. Although it certainly could be. To my mind, it’s about demonizing people for their opinions, the dangers of refusing to engage with people who disagree with you and at least try to find common ground, which, frankly, for ‘he who shall not be named’ are go-to positions. I’m not against going after someone about their opinions/beliefs if I find them offensive – There’s shit well worth arguing about and speaking vehemently out against. But I’m equally prepared to listen – even to someone I vehemently disagree with – I might learn something I didn’t know. I might be able to take what I’ve learned and use it positively. It might give me more ammunition to shake their cage, work them up and make them crazy. It might just piss me off. Or it may only deepen my belief that we’d all be better off if the offensive prick of a person in question was put in a steamer trunk and dropped off a very high cliff into a very deep hole – preferably filled with molten rock, acid, or long sharp spikes and poisonous snakes.

Generally, though, I think by engaging with people who have different opinions, beliefs, and/or life experiences I’m better able to find, if not common ground, then at least a better understanding of how to counter their argument. Know your enemy, right?

Incidentally, in between writing this and sending it to you I’ve changed my mind about my favourite tune on EotO, again.

Me: I love your visual of the molten rock and poisonous snakes Kevin – too funny! Jeff, what’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Jeff: When we were sending each other song ideas for this record, Kevin sent a pretty much complete song around called High on It that I found so beautiful and powerful. It was so great as it was that I didn’t want to mess it up too much, but that is the song that I snuck some ukulele on. I can’t wait for people to hear it. And I am super-excited for people to hear Ammunition which is really the calling card for the record and shows a side of the band that I don’t think we have explored since the first writing we ever did almost 30 years ago. Slightly more power pop then most of our songs, but still very Moist… has more in common with Freaky be Beautiful than any other song in our catalog.

Me: Freaky be Beautiful is a classic! And Jonathan, what’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Jonathan: Ammunition does it for me. Something about the overall vibe of the song transports me back to the summers of my youth. Maybe it’s because the current conditions and complexities of our world make me yearn for it. That feeling of getting out of school for the year, with nothing to do…and no one telling you what to do. If you wanted to learn how to skateboard, you just got a board and went out and did it. No fancy instructors or clubs. No social media to post to. Hell, there weren’t even helmets.

Sure, you had your moments when you felt you were “left for dead” or “breathing fire”, but you somehow managed to battle through. Nowadays, you can’t go five minutes without an app being out of date on your phone or “breaking news” upsetting your week. Everything is so scheduled, monitored and packaged up as entertainment that it can be easy to lose track of which thoughts are your own. While listening to Ammunition I feel all that tightness loosen up. I guess it just gives me the good feels.

Me: Guys, my expectations for Ammunition are now super high! Your song End of the Ocean is so powerful. Together with the video, the portrayal of humanity is striking. Can you tell us the story and symbolism behind the song?

Kevin:  It’s definitely rooted in the idea of society collapsing – there’s plenty of lyrics that call up images of environmental catastrophes of various flavours. David has a way of putting things that allows a lot of room for anyone – myself included – to see their own life and experiences in. So, at the core, I see EotO – when I’m singing and playing along with it and trying to figure out what the hell I actually played. I get the sense I’m experiencing something ending, and being entirely present – it’s like the clarity I get when I feel ready to let something go when I feel capable of mourning an end, but loving every minute it took to get to that point. So, basically, a bit like Monty Python’s ‘The Galaxy Song’ but not nearly as funny.

Me: Following the release of the songs, End of the Ocean, Tarantino, Put the Devil on It and Dying for a Light in the Dark, I have an overall sense of the theme of the album. In a nutshell, I would say that there’s humanity and lost humanity, then there’s a light or a glimmer of hope for us to be strong and rise above everything. I think that your songs are especially relevant today because among other things, people have so many internal struggles and inner demons; there are harsh societal conflicts and wars; and our planet is literally being destroyed because of the actions/inactions of humans.

Dying for a Light in the Dark is my favourite song so far. I love the lyrics “lost in world without light/and I’m waiting for…/we are…dying for the light in the dark”, music and the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel. I wrote in a post that after I listened to it for the first time, I had this deep sense that my life would be ok even with all the crap going on.  To me, the sound of rain in the intro is symbolic of a spiritual cleanse and rebirth.

Tarantino is a commentary about modern day society’s obsession with beauty and the insatiable need to be perfect.  The video for this song which has footage from “Caterpillarplasty” – a short film by David Barlow-Krelina, is quite dramatic and the people (if I can call them people) are hideous yet oddly fascinating at the same time. While exaggeration may seem extreme, it often speaks the truth. The hot pursuit for beauty often blinds us and makes us forget about things that are truly important. On that note, fill in the blank: the world would be a better place if ____________.

Kevin:  Wow, that requires optimism, which is not my bag really. But I’ll give it a go… IF… “humanity had to deal with an existential threat that required us to all come together and put aside the pursuit of power and wealth in favour of…” Oh. Shit – Climate change – We’ve already got that and yet we’re still pissing on each other. So much for optimism.

One more try… IF… “we found beauty in truth.”

Jeff: I can’t be as succinct as Kevin here. And I can’t be optimistic enough to simply wish we could all learn how to get along… but if we would just take a moment to take a breath, and think before we speak, or text, or type, or generally act, then that would be a good start.

Jonathan: … “it’s only love that matters” … which happens to be my favourite lyric in Ammunition.

Me: Very lyrical. You guys are so deep. Here is my usual get-to-know-you better question – if you had to pick, who would you say are your top 3 favourite musicians?

Kevin: I change my mind about that constantly. Historically: Nick Cave, Alice Cooper, Johnny Cash – Currently (bands and solo): Bring Me The Horizon, Public Enemy. I reserve the right to change my mind the next time someone asks, however. With virtually the whole history of recorded music at my fingertips, it’s a moving target.

Jeff: I can’t pick. My most recent playlist includes The Replacements, Rolling Stones (Brian Jones era), Pixies, The Glorious Sons, early U2, Chuck Mangione, ZZ Top, Hamilton, The Reign of Kindo, Jamiroquai, Tenacious D and every song ever recorded by Sade.

Jonathan: I’d have to say Mark Hollis of Talk Talk is my musical hero. Clear an afternoon with no interruptions and listen to their final two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock. For me, I can’t classify them as rock or jazz or blues or pop. They are simply immersive sonic experiences I get lost in. He’s also the reason I own a Gretsch Country Classic II guitar, which I used exclusively on End of the Ocean.

I also recently binged watched Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary on the Beatles. It reminded me of how they turned popular music continually on its head – from Please, Please Me to Let It Be, it’s hard to fathom how much they transformed and re-invented themselves in those eight short years.

Finally, I have to say James Jamerson, who played bass on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and defined many Motown records, makes me wish I was a bass player. No doubt about it. Just don’t tell Jeff!

Me: Jon, it’s lucky that Jeff is part of this interview! Let’s see if he reads the final version lol. It has been such an absolute pleasure and honour to interview you guys. Thanks again for sending me to Cloud 10 and taking the time for this interview. You know how much I love you guys and I’m so happy that you are still rocking this world. BTW – how do I get my hands on your self-titled cassette?! I still have a cassette player lol.

Everyone, check out Moist’s brand new music! If you’re not already a fan, take a listen to their older music as well. See for yourself why these guys are my oldest favourite band.

Remember, following on socials is FREE – so give Moist (and its members) a follow. Also show your support by streaming/buying their music, buying concert tickets and merch. Guys, is there anything else that you wish to share with your old and new fans before we wrap up this interview?

Kevin: Yes… But, unfortunately, I’ve misplaced my mother’s butter tart recipe. Sorry. So, just let me say, thank you. For listening to us and coming to the shows and making us laugh and smile and jump up and down like crazy people and generally inspire us to act and feel like we’re far younger than we are. Of all the things I’ve missed since March 2020 being unable to play and/or experience live music is a big one. Can’t wait to get back to it.

Jonathan: Thanks for reaching out, Monica. This has been fun. I can’t wait to reconnect with fans across Canada when we can get back out there. And I look forward to hearing from them when the new record is finally released!

—End—

Here are some new and older videos:

Interview with Canadian Musician Ro Joaquim

canadian music, Interviews
photo of Ro Joaquim
Photo Credit: Patrick K. Leung (Instagram @patrickkleung)

By Monica Ng

How did I live before?

I can’t believe that I ever lived without Ro’s music. I may have seen his name before because he has done a few collabs with AARYS (one of my favourite female musicians), but only took the time to explore his music when AARYS mentioned him in one of her IG stories. With music you know right away if you feel it or not. With Ro’s…I’m definitely feeling it. It’s what happens when music runs through your blood and makes your body move on its own. Ro’s songs Can We and Code of Conduct got me hooked. I’m lucky because at the time I discovered his music, he had just announced a live performance. I didn’t think I could make the show because I had Stuck on Planet Earth‘s (playing with One in the Chamber) concert just days after, but I knew that I would kick myself if I missed it. I summed it up to “VERY important music interview research” and bought my ticket. Cheers to living with no regrets!

Upcoming EP: Edible Flowers

Contact


Instagram: @rrojoaquim
Facebook: @rRojoaquim
www.rojoaquim.com

About

Originally from London, England, Ro is a Toronto-based singer, songwriter, composer and spoken word poet. He takes centre stage warming the crowd with his catchy hip-hop and R & B tunes, vibrant lyrics, positive energy and buff bod.

photo of Ro Joaquim
Photo Credit: Patrick K. Leung (Instagram @patrickkleung)

Music


Can We – single (2021)
Code of Conduct – single (2020)
Love, Pt 2 – single (2020)
Inner Peace – single (2020)
Water Fights EP (2019) – The Real, Let Em Go, Movin’ On, You Time, Look Away
Fallin’ – single (2019)
Touch Down – single (2019)

Interview


Me: Ro, Ro, Ro! Your vibe is vibin’!!!

I have already shared your music on so many of my reels and stories on social media. From the feedback I’ve received so far, you have at least three new fans. A friend said that he added you to his playlist right away and appreciates the freshness of your music. I love your freestyle videos about the pandemic – they are hilarious! You can find these videos on Ro’s IG page. And congrats on being the voice of Jeep in the ad you posted on your socials. What are your thoughts on the Toronto music scene as the city is slowly reopening during the pandemic?

Ro: Toronto had such momentum before the pandemic and we have some serious catching up to do. Just like the mosaic of the city, the artists here create from a beautiful blend of cultures and experiences.

Me: I’ll definitely do my part to support musicians. BTW – thank you so much for treating me to a drink at your concert. It was totally unexpected and sweet!

I know that you and AARYS are involved with other musicians at Division 88 – a Toronto-based recording studio bringing musicians together for collaborative work. Can you tell us about your involvement and briefly describe the creative things that happen there?

Ro: It was part serendipity and part the brilliant workings of Division 88 owner and founder Billy Wild. Billy found me at a songwriting camp where I was writing for another local Toronto singer. A song was being created at the time, Billy asked me to take a stab at it and the rest was history. At Division, amazing artists from all styles come together and create music with no particular goal and what comes out is usually amazing.

Me: Sounds like a creativity is brewing there for sure! I love the thriftiness of your lyrics – yet each word is right on target. That’s true poetry. It reminds me of my haiku writing (5/7/5 syllables) – you can only use a total of 17 syllables to conjure up a visual and deep symbolic meaning of the human experience. When did you start writing and what influences your musical style?

Ro: I started writing in elementary/middle school. I actually have a speech impediment so I’m sure it assisted in me diving into the creative arts – as it forced me to be intentional and narrowly focused on what I was creating and the emotion I wanted it to convey. My influences are Nat King Cole, Tupac Shakur, DMX and late 90’s and early 2000s RNB.

Me: It was great to hear some music from your upcoming EP at your concert. Come Forward is such a catchy, fun song – can’t wait to add it to my playlist. What inspired the album and why did you choose Edible Flowers as the name for it?

Ro: I am a writer first, that being said, I wanted to put together a body of work that showcases that. Individually each song was inspired by a different woman in my life. Similar to my poetry I take an introspective look at a situation that I experience or someone I know is experiencing and the art creates itself. Each song is about the women in my life and my partner has grown my intrigue for plants, so somewhere in the cross section came Edible Flowers.

Me: Sorry Ro, but I can’t resist…lots of music = lots of ladies! Just bugging you of course. I love how your songs are relatable. In your concert promo poster, you indicated that there would be “special guests”. I wrote in a post following the show that the most special guest wasn’t ON the stage, but OFF the stage – your mother. She told me that she surprised you by showing up. Too funny when you promised her from the stage that you’d only say Motherf***er two more times. Also, you’re so polite – you asked the crowd if it was ok to take off your shirt because you were hot. Of course, someone feisty was telling you to take off your pants too, LOL. You have such a positive vibe and great message about the importance of open communication. If you had to live by a single philosophy, what would it be?

Ro: You hit the nail with this one. Single philosophy would be: Get to know yourself inside and out and learn to express yourself in a way you intend to be received.

Me: That’s a good one to follow and by extension – learn to love yourself. I didn’t get a chance to speak to your mother more, but I asked her if you were musical since you were a child. She hesitated and said that she didn’t really think so. I read on your interview with Canadian Beats that you did some writing for other musicians and a music producer encouraged you to sing your own songs. When did you discover your gift for music and do you play any instruments?

Ro: I wrote hooks and songs from about middle school but I never really had a medium that I was comfortable enough to express it. As I started writing for artists, there was a pivotal moment when one of the artists got an opportunity to be on The Launch. While there he performed a song I wrote, and the music executives gave such high praises about the songwriting. That was the moment I went from just being confident in my abilities to knowing I had developed the skill to really do this on a bigger stage. I’ve been teaching myself the piano and guitar.

Me:  That’s so amazing! I told you that I while I was driving with Can We on repeat, I thought of this specific interview question. The lyrics of the song go: “I get so lost in you/I’m upset when I only get a part of you/It’s killing me I wonder if it’s hard for you/poker face like it don’t even bother you…” then “Can we be friends/can we make love/can we surrender…?” You so beautifully described the inspiration for and the meaning of this song at your concert.  Can you share your thoughts again?  And I ask you – do you think it’s possible to have it all?  BTW – I love the shirts that you sold at the show. They each have a different message on the back – “can we be friends”, “can we surrender”, etc. I bought the one that says, “can we be open”. Everyone, if you are interested, you can purchase a shirt through Ro’s online store.

Ro: I got inspired to write that song after reading the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. Perel is a psychotherapist who focuses on couples counselling. In the book she draws from her experience counselling couples and finds that in most cases, the couples who have been together for a long time often lose their erotic side either through the mundane patterns of the relationship or because children have changed the dynamic of the relationship. The conversation was brought up that can we have both? Can we have the security/friendship that comes from a long term relationship without sacrificing the erotic element that is so prevalent in the beginning. Mixed in with inspiration from my own relationship, we get the song Can We. I think it is possible to have it all, but it forces us to learn about ourselves and be able to communicate in an effective way. Miscommunication often comes from uncommunicated expectations. The “Can we be open” shirt is my favourite one. Thank you for that.

Me: It was great to have the chance to meet you in person. There’s so much to love about you. The world would be a better place if everyone was so warm and genuine like you. On stage and from your posts, I see that you put in your time at the gym. Other than working out, what else do you do to reduce stress?

Ro: Helping people. I believe I am here to serve, so whatever opportunity I get to serve others – that is what reduces stress and gives me a greater appreciation for the world I live in.

Me: That’s so lovely Ro. The world needs more people like you. I have to ask because I ask all my interviewees: who are your top 3 favourite musicians? I know it’s hard, but if it helps…who are you listening to currently?

Ro: Nat King Cole, Tupac, and right now Russ.

Me: What are you plans now that things are opening up and is there anything else that you’d like to share? It’s a bit ironic, because as I’m finishing up this interview, Toronto pandemic restrictions are being implemented AGAIN! Will this pandemic ever end?

Everyone – as usual, don’t forget to show your support to musicians by following them, like/commenting
on their posts, sharing their music with others, buy/stream music, buy merch, attend concerts, etc. And
remember that love is free, so show Ro some love!

Ro: I am working on some cool collabs with some established artists and I am excited for these projects to come to life. I will be releasing more singles from the project and looking to release in March.

—End—

Check out Ro’s music!

Interview with Canadian Musician Kane Miller

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Littlejohn Photography

By Monica Ng

How I found Kane 

At work I usually play my own daily playlist on Spotify, but sometimes I listen passively to random songs.  As I was working away one day, this beautiful voice sung out to me and I had to quickly maximize my Spotify screen to find out who was singing – and of course, it was Kane.  

Contact 

Instagram: @kanemillermusic 

Facebook: @KMillerMusic 

www.kanemillermusic.com 

Music 

Keep Away From Time – EP (2021) – Keep Away From Time and I Still Love You 

Isolation Sessions – EP (2021) – only available on Bandcamp – Wait for You, Catch My Heart, Mystery (Leads to You), All In and Feel You

I Still Love You – EP (2021) – I Still Love You and Arrow

For You, For Now, For Always – EP (2020) – Something New, Getting Older, Memories, Do It All For You, Secrets, Kings and Queens and Never Coming Back 

Something New – single (2020)

In this Moment – EP (2019) – All We Need, Could It Be, Coral Reefs and Morning Dew, Black Dress (Acoustic) and All We Need (Acoustic)

Secrets – single (2019)

Through That Door– single (2019) 

Black Dress – single (2019) 

Remember Us – single (2019)

Sleeping Sea – single (2019)

About  

Kane is a classically trained musician, singer and songwriter based in Lakefield, Ontario. In his spare time, he is out and about in nature and being so handy – has even completed his own kitchen and bathroom renos. 

Photo credit: Littlejohn Photography

Interview 

Me: Hey Kane! Thank you so much for taking part in this interview. I say it all the time, but I love the positive reception I get from all the musicians that I’ve interviewed. I’ve shared your music a lot on my social media stories and IG reels. I was hooked the moment I heard I Still Love You.  Some of my other favourites are Could It Be, Through That Door and Sleeping Sea.  

In light of the pandemic, what does the music scene currently look like in Lakefield? 

Kane: Thank you so much! Lakefield is a pretty small town so not a ton of a music scene to start, but definitely there has been a hit in the area. No bars/theatres meant no shows. Usually I try to do at least a larger theatre show and some pub shows throughout the year at home, but obviously nothing in the last little while.

Me: Hopefully things will get back to more normal soon. The pandemic hit Toronto pretty bad. Some venues closed their doors for good. Based on your posts it looks like you play the piano, guitar, violin and drums. Which instrument did you first get your hands on and do you play anything else? 

Kane: Sadly, not drums. I can’t quite seem to get my feet to go in line with my arms. My first instrument would probably be violin (maybe piano). I picked up the violin when I was 7 and took classical lessons and played with orchestras and different groups right up until university. Guitar came later, around high school.

Me: Very impressive that you can play so many instruments. I once sat behind a drum kit and I did just that – I sat there with no clue what to do. In the midst of the pandemic, you released your EP titled Isolation Sessions.  Basically, you isolated yourself in a cabin while you produced six songs during a 4-day period.  Obviously, you were productive during that time, but what thoughts ran through your mind in terms of the pressure and stress of having to produce an album? 

Kane: I don’t think I really felt much stress to produce the album. I have a background in audio engineering so I was fairly comfortable doing it on my own. I really wanted all the distractions out of the way when I did it though. While I was at the cabin, I made sure to leave my phone at home and keep away from the internet. I really had no contact with the outside world while I was there. That really helped me to get going and feel productive with each song.

Me: What a great way to focus. We should all disconnect from technology once in a while. I’m a bit confused about the labelling of your LV Cabin Sessions versus your Isolation Sessions – are they the same thing?

Kane: Isolation Sessions and LV Cabin Sessions are different. LV Cabin Sessions were done with my regular producer, Femke, as well as Singer-Songwriter, Micah Dalton, a drummer, Matthew Singler and an engineer, Josh Reynolds. We did this one in an Airbnb house a couple hours outside of Nashville in 2019.

Isolation Sessions were completely done by me. All engineering, mixing and mastering as well as all instrumentation. All songs were written with either Jeff Turner or Fain Spray. Everything was recorded in my family cottage in Bancroft in June 2020.

Me: You are one talented guy putting together a whole album on your own. I’ll have to check out your Isolation Sessions on Bandcamp. I love your outdoor shots where you are holding your guitar. The mood of your photos totally supports the organic sound of your songs. What inspires your music? 

Kane: Thank you! Every picture is really to the credit of Rebekah Littlejohn from Littlejohn Photography. She has an amazing eye and always seems to catch the best photos and moods. My inspiration for music comes from pretty much anything, whether it’s a thought I had one day or just a feeling. I love to sit down with a guitar and try to write out whatever I can.

Me: It’s so perfect that you love to sit, write and sing – while I love to listen. Keep the songs coming! I find your music authentic and uncluttered – free of bells and whistles. I am reminded of a comment that musician Jake Feeney made in my interview with him about the competitive music industry. He said “A lot of the time it feels like the music isn’t enough, and that you need a compelling story to really cut through the noise.”  What do you think it takes to make your mark in the music industry? And were you ever part of a band, or ever consider forming a band? 

Kane: I agree. It always seems to feel like you need some kind of story or way to market your music. With so much coming out on Spotify or Apple Music daily, you have to find a way to cut through. I have a Celtic band, Hunt the Hare, that is more of a hobby and something completely different from my solo music. I love playing with groups of people and am always looking for interesting people to play music with.

Me: So cool! I’m taking a listen to Hunt the Hare as I write. I read that you signed on with LV Music – a Nashville (Tennessee) label and did some collaborative work with other artists. Can you tell us more about this? 

Kane: All of my music out on Spotify and streaming services has been produced by Femke and released through her label, LV Music. It’s an incredible label to be part of and Femke is an amazing producer. The label feels like a small family and the support between artists and Femke is great. I’ve done a ton of writing collaborations with other artists and writers since starting to work with Femke and LV as well. Pavel Khvaleev just released a song that we did together a couple years ago, with him being a DJ and producer and me a singer-songwriter. It was a totally cool thing that was a very new experience for me.

Me: Nice. One of the things that I love about these interviews is learning tidbits about the music industry. I’m going to change up my typical interview question about your top 3 favourite musicians. Instead, who or which artists would you say most influenced your current musical style? 

Kane: Even narrowing it down to 3 favourite musicians would be real hard. I listen to a huge amount of different stuff, from classical to folk to Celtic and back to alternative rock. Currently I’m listening to some Sufjan Stevens B-Sides while we do this but I think my biggest influence would be Damien Rice.

Me: I took a listen to Damien Rice and I get where you’re coming from. I’ve received all sorts of feedback about the challenges associated with being a musician, but the need to have a thick skin is a recurring one. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a career as a musician? 

Kane: Thick skin is a good one. I love the music part of being a musician but you have to be aware that there is so much more in the marketing and business side of it, if you want to succeed. I find attitude is one of the biggest things as well. There are going to be nights when you play just to the bartender and you have to give that your all, just as if you are playing to a packed stadium. Every moment is important.

Me: So true about attitude and I love the visual of the performer and lone bartender. With an impressive 2 million streams across music platforms, what are your plans to keep up the momentum? 

Kane: Thank you! I’m always releasing music and I’ve got a few things in my mind and up my sleeve – so stay tuned!

Me: Kane, thanks again for this interview. If you ever play in Toronto, I’ll be there. Is there anything else that you wish to share? 

Everyone, don’t forget to give Kane a follow and support musicians by streaming/buying their music, buying merch and tickets for their shows. 

Kane: Thank you for having me!

—End— 

Here are a few videos for you to enjoy!

Interview with Canadian Band: One in the Chamber

Interviews, Music
Photo Credit: Keelan Nightingale

By Monica Ng

I’ve seen One in the Chamber’s name mentioned here and there on social media, but most recently through Sara Sunshine (IG: @sara_sunshine_meredith) and Canadian band Stuck on Planet Earth’s (IG: @stuckonplanetearth) posts/stories. I figured that I should take some time to listen to their music – afterall, Toronto has some wicked musicians.

Upcoming concerts:

October 30, 2021 – Halloween Rock N Eve (Fundraising concert in support of frontline workers at Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation)

November 16, 2021 – The Rose Brampton (with Stuck on Planet Earth)

Contact

IG: @oitcband

FB: @oitcband

www.oitcband.com

Music

Blow (single) – 2020

To the Gallows (single) – 2020

I’ve Got Something to Say (EP) – 2018 – Crooked Step, Bills to Pay, The Ballad of Captain Jack, Something to Say and Itchin’ Back

The Boston Session: Bootleg Demos – 2017

Photo credit: Keelan Nightingale

About

This self-described dirty rock ‘n roll Toronto-based band is made up of Mike Biase (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Cecil Eugene (lead guitar/backing vocals), Christian Dotto (bass) and Gerrod Harris (drums). One in the Chamber (“OITC”) is on a roll with over 20,000 Spotify streams, more than 10,000 followers on social media, and their album “I’ve Got Something to Say” being named as “Canadian EP of the Year” following its release by Canadian Beats and their readers.

Interview

Me: I’m delighted to have this opportunity to get to know the four of you. You guys are LOUD and banging – I love it! I admit that I haven’t been listening much to heavier rock lately, but I think I’m ready for some head banging. What I like about rock ‘n roll is that you can just let go of everything and ride the music. The pandemic has affected so many industries, but now that things are opening up again here in Toronto – let’s hear it…How was Voodo Rockfest?

Gerrod: Thanks for having us! Voodoo Rockfest was unreal. It was amazing to be back on stage and to see so many of our friends in other bands for the first time in almost two years.

Christian: Nice to meet you, Monica! Thanks for having us!

Me: Pleasure’s mine! And thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedules for this interview. You guys are really great with social media. When I first followed you, I got a DM asking what made me follow you with links to your socials. I find that music is a whole new experience when you have an opportunity to interact with musicians through commenting and DMs.  That being said, I can imagine that managing your socials is a full-time job in itself.  With over 10K followers, how do you manage and where do you draw the line between band life and your personal lives?

Gerrod: We try to keep it as professional and in tone with the band as much as possible. We have so much going on that we never feel that we need to post about our personal lives. It’s nice having the separation.

Christian: It really is a pleasure to connect with these people. We’ve met some of the most amazing fans and some truly cool musicians this way.

Me: I posted on my social media that I fell in love with your softer song Just for Tonight. It may sound weird, but it IS possible to fall in love with a song. I’ve only experienced this feeling twice in my life – the first time was Lewis Capaldi’s song Someone You Loved. If I try to describe it, I would say that your song has this way of wrapping itself around me and carrying me in such an intangible emotional way.  It’s been on repeat for a while now. So, thank you for this beautiful song. What inspires your music and your latest singles Blow and To the Gallows?

Mike: I generally write lyrics first. I always keep a notebook or paper around and I have pages and pages of lyrics written about whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I would end up writing music to them. For lyrics my inspiration has generally come from what is going on in my life (songs like Just for Tonight or Bills to Pay). Since being in OITC though, I’ve found that I like hearing the music first, and writing lyrics that come from the song. That was the case with songs like Blow and To the Gallows. The music has its own emotion and the words come out of it. I still write a lot in my books, but I find I’m also writing guitar licks and lines more often now, such as Itchin’ Back, and then putting lyrics in once we’ve written the music.

Christian: Wow! Thank you for the compliment! Just for Tonight (Stay) is a song that we recorded in Boston with former Bang Tango guitarist, Scott LaFlamme. The bassline that I wrote was inspired by an idea that Scott had given me at the time and was far more interesting than what I was playing during rehearsals. Blow and To the Gallows were written in a more organic way than Just for Tonight (Stay) was. Mike immediately expressed how the riff was too heavy, so he started messing around with it on his guitar and eventually created the main riff that you hear in the song. The original riff was still salvaged though, as that is what Cecil plays in the first verse of the song!

Me: It’s nice to hear the story behind my favourite song. Congratulations – I read that you guys recently made it to the semi-finals in 97.7 HTZ FM’s annual Rocksearch competition. How did you get involved in the competition and what’s the story behind how you guys formed as a band?

Gerrod: It really meant a lot to us to be recognized by 97.7 in 2020’s Rocksearch. It is a Canadian institution that has promoted some of the coolest bands to come out of our country for the last two decades and it was amazing to have been a part of that.

Cecil: The band formed in 2015. At the time, the band I was playing with was in the midst of breaking up, so I decided to get a bunch of guys together to start a rock/hard rock band. I knew Mike from the pub I worked at, which was at York University. We had played a few gigs together before, so when I saw him waiting in line on pub night, I asked him if he wanted to start a band, and so we were the first two members of OITC. I hosted jazz nights at the pub and one night Gerrod subbed in as a drummer for a group that I booked regularly. The guitarist in the group worked at the pub as well and gave me Gerrod’s number, saying he was looking for a rock band, so I gave him a call. We met up at one of the university’s music rooms and the three of us jammed the early stages of Bills to Pay. One night, I was talking to my brother, telling him we were still searching for a bass player. He told me to message Chris because he was also looking for a band and played bass. After a few months, we decided to name the band One in the Chamber and played our first gig at The Valley Bar and Grill in Mississauga.

Me: I love those stories…how destiny brought you together! I’m sure you get asked this all the time – how did you choose your band’s name? I stumbled upon another rock band with the same name while checking out your music.  How can fans avoid confusion on this front?

Gerrod: I’m sorry to the hear that! To my understanding, we are the only active band with the name, but follow us on our socials and website to see everything from us firsthand.

Christian: It actually took us about a month to finally decide on a band name. We had close to ten ideas that we’d narrowed down to a top three, and finally agreed that One in the Chamber was the name for us.

Gerrod: One in the Chamber is about making your one shot count.

Me: Cheers to first shots! I enjoy hearing how musicians first get into music. When did you guys pick up your first instrument and what other instruments do you play?

Mike: My dad used to listen to Q107 every morning taking us to school, so I started listening to rock music at a young age. My mum played guitar as well so I was surrounded by music all the time. I played trumpet in band in elementary school and picked up guitar when I was 12.

Gerrod: I grew up with music playing in my house all the time, but I started playing the drums in the seventh grade. Since then, I’ve learnt a little guitar but drums have always been my passion.

Christian: I also grew up around music. My parents would always have rock and metal music playing in the house and on car rides. When I was about 13 years old, I got my first electric guitar and picked up the drums and bass guitar in high school.

Me: Wow, your houses were rocking! Sounds like music is in your blood. As you may know, I interview musicians (mostly Canadian because I’m a huge supporter of my fellow Canadians) out of pure passion. What I love is that I have a chance to ask my questions and learn about them and what drives them. If you had to describe yourself in 2- 3 words, what would they be?

Gerrod: Dirty, rock and roll.

Mike: Hairy, hard hitting.

Me: That’s so funny and most awesome! I would have never expected those descriptions. I’ve received feedback from previous interviews that it’s really hard to pick 3 favourite musicians, but to get a feel for where you’re coming from – who are yours?

Mike: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen.

Gerrod: If we’re talking drummers, I’d say John Bonham, Chad Smith and Danny Carrey.

Christian: That is a tough one. I’m going to narrow it down, like Gerrod, and stick to bass players – Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler and Geddy Lee.

Me: I like getting answers to this question because I get to discover more musicians. You guys are so personable and down-to-earth. I would imagine that those traits are assets in the music industry. Any advice for anyone starting their music careers?

Gerrod: Be kind, actively pay attention to the business side and never stop learning.

Christian: Also be genuine. People can see right through you if you’re being pretentious or trying too hard. If you’re doing what you love, just have fun with it!

Mike: Leave your heart and soul on stage every time you play.

Me: Love it guys. It’s been great chatting and I look forward to seeing you guys in concert.

Everyone – don’t forget to follow these rocking dudes on socials and check out their music. 

Guys, is there anything you wish to share before we wrap things up?

Christian: Thanks again for having us, Monica. See you around!

Gerrod: Thank you for your time! Hope to see you at a show soon!

—End—

Here are some videos to enjoy!

Interview with Canadian musician Jake Feeney

Interviews, Music
Photo credit: Julia Colangelo

Vegan. Toronto. Musician. Three words that caught my interest and prompted this interview. I “met” Jake on the Toronto Vegan Facebook group. He posted asking if anyone knew of any vegan restaurants where he could play live. Of course, I had to check out his music right away! I have to be honest, folk-alternative music is not really my style, but Jake’s songs are beautiful and heartfelt. His latest single, Evaporate is really nice.

Contact 

IG: @jakefeeney

FB: @jakefeeneymusic 

www.jakefeeney.com 

His Music 

Evaporate (Single) – 2021

Sunrise (Single) – 2021 

Pipe Dreams (Album) – 2020: Pipe Dreams, We Used to Float, Memoria, Jane, I’ll Get Halfway, Mooring, Ageless Storm and The Hall. 

Calling Cards (Single) – 2020 

No Headlights (Single) – 2019 

About 

From Toronto, Jake is a singer, songwriter, guitar player and music producer. He produces his music in his bedroom studio and enjoys performing in front of live audiences. Jake had an early start in music – with his first recording at age 8 in his father’s home studio. At age 18, he won a finalist award in RBC’s Emerging Artists program. 

Photo credit: Julia Colangelo

Interview 

Me: Jake, thanks for taking the time to participate in this interview. You paint a very nostalgic picture recording your own music in your father’s studio. I read online that your father is a country music producer, so it seems like music is in your blood. Can you share one of your favourite memories in the studio as a child? 

Jake: Thank YOU for doing this, it’s my pleasure to answer your thoughtful questions. Music has definitely been at the forefront of my life since I was born. My dad Joel did a lot of his work in his home studio, so I would have to say my favourite memory would be sitting on the carpet in the room next to the studio, playing with Lego and mini sticks. My dad has mentioned that the sound of me rummaging through the Lego box showed up in some of his recordings. Not sure if these takes made the cut, but those were lovely times. 

Me: I can totally picture you sitting there. I would imagine that the sound of shifting Lego blocks would be edited out lol. You’re one of my younger interviewees. Congratulations on winning a finalist award at the RBC’s Emerging Artists program. I’m happy that programs like these exist because they give musicians an opportunity to showcase their talent. How did you get involved with the program and what are your plans (including new music) going forward? 

Jake: Thank you! I’m happy that they exist too, and I honestly didn’t know about this one until they contacted me. The principal at my high school (Etobicoke School of the Arts), Rob Mackinnon, had submitted my music to RBC and that’s how I got involved. I am so grateful he did, because I think that experience gave me a lot of confidence and excitement about a career in music. My plans are to simply keep creating music that is authentic to me. I am also becoming more involved in other projects like writing for others and session work. The goal has always been to inspire others like my heroes do for me – so however I can do that, I will.

Me: Sounds like you have a great plan mapped out. I like the distinctive sound of your fingerstyle guitar. I read on your website that you’re a self-learned guitar player. When did you pick up your first guitar and do you play any other instruments? 

Jake: I picked up guitar around 13 after playing piano as a kid. I dabble with bass guitar and love to still play piano when I’m around one, but guitar is my main squeeze – I can’t get enough. I would play as many hours as I possibly could when I was younger and had fewer responsibilities. Being late or half asleep in high school because I stayed up too late playing guitar, was a very real thing. Discovering John Mayer and his playing was a huge inspiration to me.

Me: What, sleeping in class? Unheard of lol. Well, you certainly had a good reason for it. My favourite song of yours is “Calling Cards”.  It’s hard to explain, but somehow it takes me back to a less complicated time in my life. What is the source of your musical inspiration for your songwriting and style? 

Jake: That’s really nice, I love the different effects songs have on people. Songwriting came first, likely because I wanted to be like my dad. When I discovered guitar, I felt like I found my instrument and the right way to deliver my songs. I like to write songs about my life, but ones that can be interpreted individually. That’s why I don’t like to label a song as specifically about this or that. I think that’s why I love slightly more impressionistic songwriters, like Bon Iver and Gregory Alan Isakov. I’ve always gravitated toward mellow, melodic and emotion-heavy songs. That kind of expression is what comes naturally to me, so I try to embrace it as much as I can. 

Me: That’s one of the things I love about music – people can interpret the same song totally differently. For me, certain songs are emotionally loaded and take me back to a specific moment in time. As someone with stage fright, I really admire your confidence to perform in front of crowds. Do you get stage fright? And what kind of challenges have you come across promoting yourself and your music? 

Jake: I do get stagefright. Maybe a little less each time, but I’ve never not felt it on the day of a performance. I like the nerves though, because I think it means I care, and want to do a good job up there. After the first song, a lot of it dissipates. 

Promoting yourself as an indie musician is definitely challenging, and there are a lot of amazing musicians fighting the same fight. Sometimes I feel like the biggest challenge is trying to find your own angle. A lot of the time it feels like the music isn’t enough, and that you need a compelling story to really cut through the noise. While I do agree that this helps, I think it still comes down to writing a good song that will speak for itself. So more often, the biggest challenge is writing that song. 

Me: I can appreciate how hard it is for musicians to find their spot on a highly competitive metaphorical “world stage”. I agree that staying true to yourself and your style is important. In your case it definitely comes through. It’s obvious from your posts that you are smitten by your girlfriend Julia (who happens to be on the singles cover of “Sunrise”). In one of your posts, you wrote “my crush on her grows embarrassingly bigger and bigger every day.” Awww…young love is so sweet.  Did you write any songs specifically for her? And does she ever sing along with you? 

Jake: Absolutely I’ve written songs for Julia. It’s hard not to. She does sing along with me! She is a very talented singer and I’ve heard some beautiful songs that she’s written. We sing covers together a lot, and it always leaves me smiling.

Me: Amazing to have a partner in crime! If you had to pick one of your songs – which one holds the most meaning for you and why? 

Jake: I think it changes – but right now, my newest song Evaporate definitely holds the most meaning to me. I think it’s because it came from an honest and vulnerable place, and it’s about feelings I deal with constantly. It’s a reminder to me that it’s okay to let go of a thought. This is something I need frequent reminding of.

Me: It’s amazing that from vulnerability comes beautiful music. Letting go of things is something that I write about often. Music shapes and influences us in so many ways. Here’s my usual “get to know you” question: who are your top 3 favourite musicians? 

Jake: This is very tough… but I’ll try to narrow it to 3, in no particular order:

1. John Mayer
2. The Tallest Man on Earth
3. Frank Ocean 

Me: Frank Ocean and Thom Yorke are probably the most popular fav musicians named by the other musicians I have interviewed so far. Pandemic life has changed people’s lives in so many ways. What are your plans now that things are finally opening up? 

Jake: I am slowly getting back to performing here in Toronto, which feels great. My rule has always been to say yes to every gig (if it’s feasible) so I will continue to do that, and hopefully the ball will keep rolling. I’m also recording and working on releasing more new songs.   

Me: Amazing! I know this is a music interview, but it stemmed from your vegan group post, and I get really excited when I meet a fellow vegan. I’m glad that there is a huge global movement right now towards ending animal cruelty and saving the planet. This November marks my 3rd veganversary. You mentioned that you’ve been vegan about 2 years.  What’s the story behind why you became vegan? 

Jake: I’m glad there is too. It feels like I came into it during a big surge, which is very exciting. Julia had a lot to do with me switching to a plant-based diet – but not through persuasion, just education. I was inspired by her and I learned so many things that changed my perspective. The switch was a bit gradual at first, but as I learned more, I became more passionate about the movement. Now it seems being vegan is a no-brainer for me, personally.

Me:  Cheers to a more compassionate world! Jake, it was great getting to know you. Thanks again for your time.  Hopefully, I’ll catch you performing when I’m out enjoying vegan food. Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Everyone – check out Jake’s music and support local Canadian music!  

Jake: Thank you so much for doing this interview! I’d love to see you out at a show. The support you give to upcoming artists is so valuable and admirable, and it goes a long way. I hope your readers can find something that speaks to them in my music. 

—End— 

Here are some of Jake’s audio videos

Interview with Jordan Waraksa of Milwaukee’s band: SONOf

Interviews, Music
SONOf
Photo credit: SONOf

By Monica Ng

It’s a new world. Following someone on Instagram isn’t tacky or weird (unless of course, it’s weird). In fact, it’s a great way for people to connect with others locally and across the globe – and for musicians, it represents free promo and a chance to grow their audience. Had SONOf not followed me, I probably wouldn’t have known about their music.  I love it when musicians post their video clips on social media. You get a chance to sample a variety of music just by clicking – it’s like someone bringing a wine taste-testing right to your door. That would be awesome. Did I just start a new trend?!

Contact

www.sonof.us

IG: @sonof.music

FB: sonof sonof

About

From Milwaukee, USA, Jordan Waraksa, Nick Waraksa, Chuck Lawton and Benjamin Schaefer are the guys behind SONOf.  Their project was created out of their desire to explore and experiment with electronic music this past decade, as they shifted away from acoustic music. Their self-titled EP was born during the COVID pandemic.

Their Music

SONOf EP (2021) – Stoaway, Ligh+ and bTT.

Brume (2020) – Single

Interview

Me: Jordan, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview.  Congratulations, on the release of SONOf’s new EP!  I love the artistic touch that you guys put into everything, including your song titles (example, use of “+” instead of a “t” at the end of light). In my opinion, you guys have mastered your craft and created a successful project that’s unique and has an intangible transformative power. When I listen to “Ligh+”, I’m floating in an alternate universe where I feel this darkness and uncertainty about myself, but compelled to stay and explore that side of me.

There’s not a lot about you guys online.  Can you share how your project came alive, how you chose your name and what your name represents?

Jordan:  My brother Nick, from little on, has always been into getting the newest toys.  At some point in 2019, a synthesizer was brought to a rehearsal for our other project “The Vitrolum Republic”.   Coming from a childhood of classical music and a band of acoustic instrumentation, it was thrilling to step into a totally different area of sound exploration for our song writing. We all started to get new electronic gear, pushing each other further down the path of pedals, amps, and synths.  I knew nothing other than how to plug them in.  I believe the best creativity comes from limited tools, and an openness to try and fail.  We got to a point during the last days of Dec. 2019 where we converted Benjamin’s house to a recording studio and made 6 demo tracks over the course of a long weekend.  Something poured out of us, that we didn’t know was always there.  Something unique and exciting had been captured.  We slowly edited the tracks and then they sat on the shelf for a few months while we all were busy with our other personal projects (film making, photography, woodworking).  Then the world changed in March 2020.  We were just about to go into tech week / dress rehearsals for a live performance with the Milwaukee Ballet.  Everything was cancelled, so we moved all our gear back to our separate homes for what was the start of lockdown.  We each set up a home studio to keep the momentum alive.

I had just gotten back from Mexico City incredibly inspired by the architecture and artists I met.  My wife Cora speaks fluent Spanish and we came up with a name together.   I thought about what the four of us had in common.  We are all sons – sons of fathers, sons of mothers, sons of… In the Spanish dialect “son” translates to “THEY ARE” and also means “SOUND”.  SONOf seemed to be so specific to us, but also endlessly relatable to everyone.

Me: I’m glad you guys were able to keep the momentum going for your music and I would have never guessed about the origin of your band name – very nice. I mentioned to you that it’s hard to search for SONOf on music platforms and YouTube. What’s the best way for people to find your music?

Jordan:  Well, we’re just getting started. Hopefully the more clicks we get, the easier it will be to find us. 

Please visit:

SPOTIFY:    https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Kc9aE77DbUdlPiRhcqOdP?si=04Dh0sbDRTG7AU4NvimUzQ&dl_branch=1

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBXIewbimhdV1yP1wvumHzQ

Website:      https://www.sonof.us

BANDCAMP:   https://sonof-music.bandcamp.com/album/sonof

Me:  According to your website, your music genre is FolkTronica. I’ve heard of folk and electronica but can’t quite grasp the combination.  Because I’m very curious, I have been trying to dissect electronic music lately.  I asked you if your music is completely electronic, but you explained that you “start with recording acoustic instruments, but often put them through pedals and effects to explore the sound.”  You mentioned that your previous project “The Vitrolum Republic” was completely acoustic instrumentation. How are you guys finding the journey of changing music styles?

Jordan:  It’s a fun exploration to have one foot in both worlds – really trying to see what can be found through the blend.  The genre of one’s music is a hot topic.  Choosing the wrong labels could mean never finding your true audience for your music.  So, I think there may be a better genre, but it doesn’t exist on platforms these days.

Me: I agree that some music is hard to label. For you guys, maybe “TranscendingTronica” because your music is surreal. I am amazed that musicians all over the world have learned to adapt to the COVID pandemic way of life and have either learned to produce music on their own or produce music remotely by exchanging electronic files.  On your website, I read that you guys “created this EP entirely bypassing digital files between [your] homes during the 2020 quarantine”.  What other challenges have you encountered during this pandemic with respect to your music?

Jordan:  Well, being in the same room at the same time has been a part of our music for a long time.  To completely throw out that factor, opened up a world of creativity through the time in which it took to add parts and try ideas – you could take 8 mins or 8 days. It was like an ancient game I did while in art school called “exquisite corpse”, where each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.

Me: I can totally see how your game analogy works – a creative exercise in itself. You guys were obviously busy putting together your EP during quarantine. What are your plans post-pandemic?

Jordan:  Planning to release a full album in 2022.  We are currently finishing the shooting and production of music films for our self-titled EP. Check out the videos on our YouTube page, we’re super proud of the caliber of filmmaking on these!

Me: Your videos are incredible. I like to loop the video for Ligh+. You and Nick are actually the second set of sibling musicians that I have interviewed. Twins, Alex and Thomas Arthur of Toronto’s Hideout Legacy are the other ones. Working with a sibling is such a rare and special thing. I don’t think that I could work with my sisters. What’s it like for you guys to work together?

Jordan:  We know each other’s tendencies.  When at our best, we push each other beyond those points to make something better, but also make music for each other.  We have different styles, but we understand where each of us is coming from. I think it makes the collaboration dynamic. 

Me:  So great that you guys can push each other and appreciate your differences. You’re super nice and you can sing and play instruments. It never surprises me that musicians are multi-talented, because playing instruments is a left and right brain thing.

Now, I’m going to confess that I’m a sucker for beautifully crafted wood furniture. Your wood sculpting and furniture making skills are beyond impressive. I need to buy one of your stunning pieces.  I’ll wait until the CAD-USD conversion rate is good lol. You mentioned in our chat that you and Nick are classically trained musicians.  In one of your posts, I saw that you play violin. Do you play any other instruments?  And do you have other hobbies/interests that occupy your time?

Jordan: Haha! I’d love to make you something.  I play a lot of instruments besides violin, just happy I started with the hardest one when I was a kid.  I am a sculptor, and make wood furniture for a living for my company FIDDLEHAMMER.

Pictured above: Bellaphone and bench.

Me: Violin is a challenging instrument – it’s quite a feat to master it. Someone told me that parents of novice violinists and drummers have it the worst and I can appreciate why!

Here’s my usual “get to know you” interview question – if you had to pick three – who would you say are your top 3 favourite musicians?

Jordan:  I think I’d like to name 30, but here goes:

Thom Yorke

George Harrison

Jeff Buckley

Me: I’ve heard of Thom Yorke, but had no idea that he is the leading man of Radiohead until I took a listen to his music. I’ll have to take a listen to the others. One thing that I don’t understand with electronic music…are you able to structure a live performance?

Jordan:  Yes, we are hoping to perform live in the near future.  There is a bit of tech involved, but it will be wonderful to perform all at once together.  We hope to really connect with those who find themselves in our music. 

Me: Well, I think everyone is anxious for this crazy pandemic to end and to be able to enjoy live concerts again. Jordan, thanks again for your time and enthusiasm. It’s been great getting to know you and learning more about SONOf. Everyone – if you haven’t already, give this fantastic band a listen. And don’t forget to show your support by buying, streaming, sharing their music, and buying merch and show tickets. This applies to all musicians. Remember, no musicians = silent world. And to you furniture lovers out there – you can own a beautiful piece of timeless wooden furniture by Fiddlehammer.

Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Jordan:  Thank You!

We do all of the work ourselves. We haven’t outsourced a single thing outside our quartet.  The recording, mastering, photography, filming, editing…our vision has potency.  It comes from the heart.  Much love to all who read this, thank you for listening to our music!

—End—

Video for SONOf’s “Ligh+”

Interview with Alex and Dan of Canadian Band: Hideout Legacy

canadian music, Interviews
Hideout Legacy band
Photo Credit: Andrea Hunter Photography
www.andreahunter.ca/

By Monica Ng

Out of hiding 

Now that I’ve discovered Hideout Legacy‘s music – they’re no longer “in hiding” from me! I saw Sara’s (IG: @sara_sunshine_meredith) band recommendation so checked out their music. I began following Sara on IG because of our mutual love for Toronto’s very own Stuck on Planet Earth as well as our love of nature and the outdoors.  I’m a sucker for Canadian music and psyched to promote and support our musicians. I’ve been a music lover since I was 7 and admit that I have high expectations when it comes to my music. When I first come across a new artist and start listening to their music, I’m afraid to be disappointed. It’s like when I’m discovering new trails – some surpass my expectations, while others leave me feeling empty. I find that interviews are easy for me to put together when I’m interested in the musician and their music – so needless to say, these guys are amazing! I absolutely love Canadian enthusiasm, passion and spirit. All the musicians that I’ve interviewed are super-friendly, wonderful and incredibly talented.  

Contact 

IG: @hideoutlegacy

Facebook: Hideout Legacy

www.hideoutlegacy.com 

About 

From my very own city, Toronto, Hideout Legacy is made up of Thomas Arthur (vocals/keyboard), Dan Morson (guitar) and Alex Arthur (drums/backup vocals). I can pretty much guarantee you that they’re the only “twin brothers and their best friend” trio that you’ll ever come across. This self-described “modern alt-rock” band re-invented itself during COVID times and created a new name for itself – pushing full steam ahead in the music scene with new singles releases and an upcoming EP this September.  

Hideout Legacy band
Photo Credit: David McDonald Photography
www.davidmcdphotos.zenfolio.com

Their Music 

Drive Me Wild (single) – 2021 

Anthem (Walk off the Earth – cover) – 2021

Game Changer Remix (single) – 2021

Game Changer (single) – 2021 

Interview 

Me: I really appreciate you guys taking the time to participate in this interview. Your latest release, “Drive Me Wild” has been on repeat for the last week or so – in my car, at work (I feel sorry for my colleague lol), rollerblading, biking, hiking, cleaning… you name it. It’s a great song. Very wild! 

On the topic of wild – these COVID times are crazy. What were you guys doing right before the COVID shutdowns?  And what’s going on now? 

Alex/Dan: First of all, we’re honoured, thanks for having us!

We were in the midst of recording our EP right before the lockdown and used the opportunity to record and make more music, re-write and re-record. “Drive Me Wild” was very much a baby of that longer recording time. We started with a heavy rock sound, reworked the song multiple times to get the current modern, alternative version and even made an R&B one as well that will be released June 15th.  Right now we are focused on publicity – in getting the music out there as well as releasing the singles and EP.  We are excited for what’s around the corner with restrictions being lifted so we can play some shows.

Me: I think everyone’s anxious for the restrictions to be lifted. I have it all planned out – post-COVID, I’m going to continue my exploration of Ontario’s trails at distant locations, go to live concerts and chill out with friends over a meal and drinks inside a restaurant.  

What are the first 3 things that you’ll do after the pandemic is over? 

Alex: Live Music (see as many live shows as possible), have a huge party, and definitely looking forward to going out on a Friday and Saturday.

Dan: Go to a concert, eat out, have a big party with all my friends.

Me: It sounds like we’re pretty much on the same page with our plans! Alex – when did you first pick up a set of drumsticks? And do you play any other instruments?  

Alex: I first picked up a set of sticks for our first venture into rock, when was 19. I started with guitar and added bass and drums at the same time. I’ve always loved playing multiple instruments but am loving the kit. The kit is the only instrument where you can become one with the music and close your eyes, it’s so much by feel. 

Me: That’s amazing that you’re able to find your space. I’ve always loved the sound of the drums. Dan, when did you pick up your first guitar? And do you play other instruments?  

Dan: I started playing guitar just before high school when my dad introduced me to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  I rented a guitar for a month and absolutely loved it – playing relentlessly until I had to return it.  I loved it so much I wanted to buy one but I had a tendency to start/stop a lot of hobbies so didn’t continue playing.  After returning the guitar rental I continued to think about playing for many months after until I realized I was serious about learning to play, at which point I bought my first acoustic. I played trumpet through most of high school in the jazz and orchestral bands however guitar became more and more a priority as time went on.

Me: Thanks for sharing guys. I enjoy hearing stories about how musicians get started. Everyone has such a different story. And Dan, I totally get it about start/stop with hobbies – I’m the same way. I mentioned that “Drive Me Wild” reminds me of “Frost” by Rare Monk, so I was instantly hooked on your song. Who writes your songs? And where do you guys get your musical inspiration from? 

Alex/Dan: We all collaborate together on all the songs in one area or another – we all come in with different ideas and choose one we all like and run with it. Ultimately each member has equal share in the final music we decide on, which makes the creative process both challenging and very rewarding, as we ultimately end up with a song we are very proud of.

Me: Very nice, and it’s great that everyone has their input. I’m impressed that you guys work together so well. I read that you were formerly known as “Total Runout” and re-invented your band while renaming it “Hideout Legacy“.  I’m sad to hear about the Hideout (and so many other venues) that closed down because of the pandemic. Can you share your journey including how you chose your current name? 

Alex/Dan: We felt that Total Runout was a name we had outgrown and as a result of the pandemic we had grown a lot personally and as a band so we felt a change was appropriate.  The name felt right as we had played at the Hideout multiple times – having it become our home away from home and really a place for us to express our rock attitude. Also, the pairing with the word legacy gave it some extra meaning, reminds us of great legacy loves and the emotions we love writing about. 

Me: It’s definitely an original name, and was a bit hard for me to remember initially, but I get it. Your website shows that you’re ready to launch “5 singles, 4 remixes, videos and an EP”. That’s pretty exciting! Can you give a hint as to what we can expect in terms of theme, style, vibe, etc.? 

Alex/Dan: The style is keeping in the same modern/alternative vein with a few variations – the songs came together with a feel but didn’t have a specific theme in mind. The EP has a variety of flavours.

Me: Looking forward to new music. On a separate note, I love that you guys are fans of Stuck on Planet Earth too. Here’s a “get to know you” question that I ask everyone I interview: Who are your top 3 favourite musicians? 

Alex:  Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Muse (package deal) – that’s how I squeeze in 5 to 3. I feel like I’m missing so many here – I have infinite respect for so many musicians.

Dan: Josh Homme (QOTSA), Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).

Me: I haven’t heard of most of them, but will definitely check them out. Life has so many demands and stresses. I’m a bit of a stress-eater, but I try to manage my stress by blasting my music, exercising and surrounding myself with nature. Fill in the blank. “When I’m feeling stressed, I… ______.” 

Alex: Definitely playing and listening to music, working out, and burying myself in stuff to do. 

Dan: I workout, go for a drive, watch my favourite concerts on YouTube.  Music in the car when I’m driving home from work is great and actually tends to remove all my stress by the time I get home.

Me: Music is definitely a stress reliever. When I blast my music – it becomes part of me and I think of nothing else – much like meditation. Alex, you’re the second twin that I’ve “met” recently. I’m working on an interview with musician, Jacqueline Loor and she’s a twin too.  What’s it like being in a band with your brother and your best friend?  And just for fun, here’s a similar question that I asked Jacqueline – what’s the funniest swap that you’ve ever done? 

Alex: It’s wicked, the chemistry and the foundation we have is something that you can’t find – we have a connection from doing so many things in life together. The funniest swap we’ve done…I have to admit we’ve never tried to confuse people because so many people can’t tell us apart in the first place, we’re just relieved when they actually can. I keep on getting compliments for my lead singing while only playing the drums, which I find pretty funny.

Me: LOL, I can’t imagine being a twin! Amazing the chemistry you have – that’s something rare. What kind of challenges did you guys deal with getting into the music industry? And what suggestions do you have for others who are considering a career as a musician? 

Alex: Definitely make sure you are in it for the lifestyle, love both the process and the work, and have an end goal. Having a solid cash flow to propel an amazing team is also essential because it takes money to get that initial push.

Dan: The biggest challenge is standing out and getting your music heard.  There are many bands and songs out there which people may associate with another artist so being able to come off as truly creative and musically unique amongst many other great artists is the main challenge.  I would recommend people establish what their goals are for being a musician because there are a lot of ways to approach a career but ultimately, if it is your dream to become a musician the end goal needs to be clear.

Me: Thanks for the great insight and tips. It’s been great chatting with you guys and getting to know you. I look forward to your new tracks and live concerts. You’ll definitely see me grooving in the crowd! Everyone, show some love to this fantastic band. ATTENTION TORONTONIANS – Hideout Legacy is our very own local band. Don’t forget to buy tickets to their concerts when things open up again. 

Is there anything else that you guys wish to share? 

Alex: Music has been such a blessing for me and a comfort during all the times of my life. Listening to a live band together is one of the most magical things and I’ll appreciate it that much more once COVID is over! 

Dan: Just want everyone to support live music, venues which were affected as a result of COVID and support the ongoing vaccination effort so we can all return to normal life as soon as possible.

—End—

Here are a couple of their awesome videos:

Interview with UK musician Andrew Ford of Inner Pieces

Interviews
Andrew Ford of Inner Pieces
Photo Credit: Andrew Ford/Inner Pieces

By Monica Ng

Instagram (and other social media) is a very powerful tool in connecting the world.  As you may already know, I’m very passionate about music and always looking for new musical experiences.  I’ve been searching for ear-pleasing meditation/yoga music for a long time.  I’ve spent hours listening to different music on iTunes and YouTube, trying to find the “perfect” meditation/relaxation music, but I only managed to add three songs to my playlist. I had trouble finding music that I found peaceful enough to trust closing my eyes. Often, I find that the pieces have these annoying isolated chiming sounds (ping!) or the sound of water running (which I hate). I would never have imagined that I’d find my perfect meditation/relaxation music from the United Kingdom (UK).  I was admiring art from one of the art curators I follow on IG, then clicked on the artist’s profile, then the artist had a musician playing a piece in front of her painting, then I clicked on the musician’s profile and somehow got to Inner Pieces. It’s amazing where a few clicks can take you.

Though, my focus is on interviewing Canadian musicians, I’m really happy to make a special exception for Inner Pieces.

Contact

IG: @inner_pieces_music

Facebook: innerpieces1

www.innerpieces.co.uk

EXCITING NEW SINGLE RELEASE: “MOTION” on MARCH 5, 2021. A collaboration with James Oram.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ford/Inner Pieces

Inner Pieces’ Music

The Calling, Feat. Inner Pieces by Sean Tinnion – single (2021)

Breathless – single (2020)

Rains, Pt. 2 – single (2020)

Space – single (2020)

Within – album (2016)

One – album (2013)

About

Andrew Ford is the talent behind Inner Pieces. Based in Bristol in the United Kingdom, Andrew composes music, collaborates with other musicians and runs music meditation/yoga sessions. He plays the Hang, RAV drum, Native American style flute, Sansula and the piano.

The story behind his project “Inner Pieces” is an inspirational one. It was created out of Andrew’s personal journey of metaphorically putting pieces of himself back together in light of Scoliosis – a rare genetic condition where the spine twists and curves, his experience with hearing loss and Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and respiratory failure. 

Interview

Me: Andrew, I am so grateful for your music and a chance to interview someone so special. BTW- I love your accent! Through your music, I literally found the peace that I’ve been looking for.  Your sounds are so beautiful, smooth and peaceful.  For so long, I’ve been feeling so claustrophobic and cluttered in my environment (too much stuff mainly). I’ve put off any action to fix this because life is too busy, but after listening to your music for a few days, I was driving and suddenly knew that I have a mission to accomplish – declutter and turn my room into a “zen” space, where I can truly relax and calm myself. 

I’ve never met you before, but your energy and vibe translate into your music. Where do you get your inspiration from? When did you first set your hands on those unique instruments that you play? And where do you even buy them?

Andrew: Hi Monica, thank you so much for inviting me to take part in this interview. I am really pleased that you have managed to find some peace from my music and I can totally relate to the cluttered environment! (Note to self, I must empty those two boxes in the cupboard from when I first moved in 2 years ago…)

Hmm, I guess it was the Hang that inspired me to start Inner Pieces. Late one night playing the Hang I felt this strong urge to somehow use my musical abilities to help people and to share these beautiful instruments with those who might not normally get to hear them.

So I did some research and then I started volunteering once a week at a Children’s Hospice playing relaxing music to the children and nurses. In fact a lot of the musical ideas and melodies for my previous album ‘Within’ spontaneously developed while improvising at the hospice. It was such a privilege, and at times heartbreaking to be able to play my music to these children. The work they do at the hospice is truly amazing. 

But yes, it’s hard to pin down exactly where I get my inspiration from. Often I will just be improvising and experimenting and I will stumble upon a melody that wants to be fully realized. Sometimes it happens quickly, but sometimes it is a long drawn out affair filled with doubts and trepidation as it was when I composed ‘Breathless’.

It was July 2012 when I picked up the Hang. The Hang was invented in the year 2000 so its a very new instrument and not so easy to get hold of. Over a space of a year I wrote a couple of letters to PANArt, the creators of the Hang and they eventually invited me out to Switzerland to choose my instrument! It was such an amazing experience meeting the makers and trying out all the different Hanghang (plural of Hang) in their workshop! I must have played around 70 different instruments and they were all slightly different. In the end, the one I chose seemed to come to life more than the others I played. 

I think I picked up my first Native American style flute from Ebay at around a similar time, but several years later I met David Cartwright from Second Voice Flutes who made me a beautiful drone flute and gifted me a flute specially made to fit with the tuning of the Hang. 

The Sansula and RAV drum were later additions to my collection of instruments. The Sansula I stumbled upon in a little shop in Amsterdam and the RAV I discovered on YouTube.  

Me: That’s an incredible gift from David Cartwright. And lol, who would have known that the plural of Hang is Hanghang! I like how you identify the different instruments played in each piece on your IG posts. It’s a great way to learn about them and the sounds they make. I can’t play instruments, so I’m really curious how you learned to play them. Did you learn on your own or through formal lessons? And were they hard to learn?

Andrew: One great thing about these instruments is that they are very accessible to play and don’t require years of training. The Hang, RAV and Sansula are made in such a way that it’s not really possible to play a wrong note. They lend themselves very well to improvising, as the instruments only have 7 or 8 notes which have been chosen to produce a certain mood. The Native American style flute is also quite simple to play, as it is tuned to a 5 note pentatonic scale which is very pleasing. However, like all things, these instruments do benefit from practice but you can be creating beautiful sounds in a matter of minutes. 

I learned to play mainly just by experimentation and listening to others. With these instruments there is not really an absolutely “correct” way of playing them. A lot of Hang players I saw would use the sides of their thumbs or their palms hitting it like a drum. But I found I didn’t really like the slap sound of metal so much, so I started playing with my fingertips to get a softer sound.     

Me: Needless to say, the way you play these instruments is incredible. I would just hold and stare at them with no clue where to begin.

Congratulations! You’re about to release “Motion” – a collaboration single with musician James Oram.  I love the beautiful simplicity of your cover. What is the significance of the title “Motion” and what was the inspiration for the single?

Andrew: Thank you, I am really excited about releasing “Motion”. It’s quite different to anything either of us have released before. This is my first collaboration with James Oram and the track is definitely a little more energetic than the stuff I usually create. 

It came about when I posted a little clip to Instagram of a rhythmical groove idea I came up with on the Hang. There wasn’t much to it but there was definitely something in it that required further exploration. James had seen it, and then sent me a recording on WhatsApp of him jamming along to it on the piano. It sounded great and took the groove into a totally new direction that I never would have taken it to on my own. 

Because of the lockdown restrictions, we sent some ideas back and forth over the internet and had a couple of jams in the garden. I think it took us around 6 months to fully craft and record the track. 

As is usually the case for me, the title of the track came much later. The track felt like it was going somewhere. In my mind, it felt like travelling through space and passing different planets in the solar system. And the piano definitely added to the feeling of motion with its cascading melodies. “Motion” seemed like a good fit.  

Me: I can’t wait to hear Motion. I listened to some of James’ music as well and he is very impressive. To get to know people better, I always like to ask musicians who are their top 3 favourite musicians. Who are yours?

Andrew: Ah, this is always a difficult question. I guess I’d have to include Beethoven for the sheer breadth of emotion in his piano works, Manu Delago for his creativity and Hang playing and maybe Nitin Sawney for blending Indian classical music with western contemporary styles. But there are many more, Bob Marley, Chopin, Thievery Corporation, anything unique and interesting really. 

Me: Very interesting. I haven’t heard of a few of those artists…I’ll have to take a listen. Because of the COVID pandemic, the world has been an absolutely crazy place for about a year now. I enjoyed a live concert the day before the lockdown here in Ontario and have only been watching online concerts since then. How has COVID affected your day-to-day life and music?

Andrew: Yeah its been quite a ride this past year. I make a living teaching piano so this all stopped very suddenly. But thankfully I was able to transition most of my students online which I am really grateful for. Thank god for the internet! But it has actually given me a chance to slow down and dedicate more time to my creative projects which has been really great. I don’t think I would have released as much music last year if it wasn’t for lockdown. It has definitely made me reassess my priorities.

The biggest thing I miss are the gigs! I have done a few Facebook live gigs which have been really fun, but it is an odd experience performing in my living room. You get the interactive comments and stuff but it’s not quite the same as looking people in the eye and talking to them in between tracks.    

Me: Yes, the common theme with musicians playing via live streams seems to be the oddity of performing in a non-human interactive environment. I can tell from your IG posts that you have quite the talent for photography and videography. How did you develop these interests? And are there any other interests that you have?

Andrew: I guess I’m a bit of a control freak, so I like to do everything myself. I always enjoyed taking photos but videography came about through necessity and lack of money. These days, music is becoming much more visual so it’s vital to attach music to video wherever possible. 

That’s actually been another benefit to lockdown life. Its given me so much more time to watch 100’s of hours of YouTube tutorials learning different photography techniques. Last year I did a ‘Photo a Week’ project where I had to take a photo every week for a whole year. I didn’t expect to be confined to my house for most of it so it forced me to get as creative as possible! I really feel I’ve stepped up my game this last year. I am however really looking forward to going out and about with my camera a lot more!

Other than that, I enjoy going to gigs and watching bands, and seeing films. 

Me: Hopefully, you’re sharing your “Photo a Week” collection somewhere. I’d like to check it out. You seem to be really in-tune with your inner-self. Since you’re involved in guiding meditation/yoga sessions, can you give a few recommendations to those wanting to try meditation?

Andrew: Yes, I do try. I go through phases of meditating a lot and then sometimes not at all. Before the lockdown my partner and I would often meditate at the Buddhist centre here in Bristol, which I really miss. During lockdown I have found it much harder, but recently I have got back into a daily meditation routine as I came to realize I was neglecting my self-care. 

I guess my advice to those wanting to start, is to try and set aside 5 minutes a day at first. This is what I am currently doing. Because we are all very busy and there’s always so many distractions. But there’s really no excuse to not be able to find 5 minutes somewhere in the day! 

I use an app called Insight Timer which is free and has lots of different guided meditations. However I use it just to time my meditations as you can set your own meditation length and it will begin and end the session with a chime from a Tibetan Bell. For me, focusing on the sensation of breath is my favourite type of meditation, but there are many different techniques out there.  

With meditation, the effects are cumulative, so little and often is a good way to start. 

Me: So true – there’s no excuse to NOT find five minutes a day to calm your mind and body.

I was reading your blog on your website about Scoliosis. You’re very open about your traumatic physical, mental and emotional experiences relating to the condition, as well as the metal rod in your spine. What gave you the confidence to share your personal story with the world?

Andrew: This has been quite a long journey. I spent most of my life trying to hide the curvature of my spine from the world and I never spoke about my worries and anxieties growing up. I was an anxious child. I guess this goes hand in hand with meditation, as I have been on a quest for self-discovery and psychological healing for quite some time. At some point I realized that to really heal I would have to shine a light into the shadows. 

In Jungian theory it states that there is a lot of energy tied up in the shadows (I’m paraphrasing badly here). For me I can see that it took up an awful lot of my resources pretending that there was nothing wrong. Trying to hide my body with more clothes than necessary during the summer months for instance. So these days I am trying to embrace it and accept my body’s asymmetry. My hope is that my writing can inspire others to fully embrace and heal themselves too. I still have a long way to go, but I feel a lot lighter and happier than I used to be. 

Me: I never thought about the concept of energy being tied up in the shadows before, but I can see that it’s true. I go through phases where dark thoughts consume me and drain my mental energies. I’m thankful for my writing because it helps me to re-channel the negativity onto the paper or screen. On your blog, you also wrote in detail about your experience with hearing loss and Tinnitus. Normally, the thought of losing ones’ hearing and ringing in the ears is scary enough, but I would imagine that it’s even scarier for a musician. You mentioned that you took precautions by wearing ear protection when playing electronic music in the past and being around loud music, but it wasn’t enough.  You also wrote that Tinnitus could be more of a mental issue than a physical problem. What are your struggles with hearing loss and Tinnitus, with respect to music?

Andrew: Yeah that was quite a transformative time. It completely changed the direction of my life with music. But in the end it definitely helped change my life for the better. 

I had lost a fairly substantial amount of hearing from gigging and working in noisy environments for many years, but my hearing tests showed me that my hearing had stabilized despite the increasing volume of the ringing in my ears. With the help of a Tinnitus therapist I was able to see that a large part of my negative experience with Tinnitus was caused by my mind and the way that I think. I went through a lot Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to eventually rewrite some of my problem neural pathways. The Tinnitus is still there, but it doesn’t affect me so much anymore. Most of the time I don’t really notice it, which is quite a relief as when it was at its loudest I really didn’t know how I would cope.

But yeah, I ended up quitting all the music I was doing at the time and I was in a really low place. I slowly began piecing things back together and it was around that time that I picked up my Hang from Switzerland. The music I am making today feels truer to my inner self and more fulfilling than anything I was making before. If I hadn’t had all the problems with my hearing, I don’t think I’d be making the music I am today. 

Me: I love the visual and emotional aspect of piecing yourself back together. That’s so inspiration. You already went through so much, then you were recently diagnosed with respiratory failure. That’s crazy! My heart breaks for you. But you’re so tough and keep fighting back.

I already loved your song “Breathless”, but appreciate it even more after I learned the story behind it. You were literally breathless and in need of a ventilating machine for sleeping. Does this condition affect your flute playing?

Andrew: This was definitely one of my biggest challenges to date, but I do want to make clear that it was not as extreme as it sounds. Because of the Scoliosis my lungs are restricted somewhat and therefore at night when my body relaxes, I don’t take in quite enough oxygen. It had been creeping up on me for many years and it just meant I was becoming increasingly groggy in the morning with headaches that would persist for the whole day. It is technically respiratory failure as my lungs are not exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as they should, but not in an immediately life threatening sense like it can be in more extreme cases. I now use a ventilator every night to keep my oxygen and CO2 levels in check while I sleep.

Unfortunately this does affect my flute playing as my lung capacity is greatly reduced so I am unable to sustain notes for as long as I’d like. But it doesn’t stop me being creative and expressing myself with the flute. 

Composing “Breathless” was a rather cathartic experience and it really helped me to channel a lot of  difficult emotions. I think it’s probably the most honest piece of music I have ever created. 

Me: Andrew, you’ve proven that even though life can throw a bunch of crap, beauty (your music) can stem from it – much like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

I’m really looking forward to your new collaboration single and new music from you. Thank you so much for being you and agreeing to this interview. Everyone, make the meditative sounds of Inner Pieces part of your lives and channel your inner peace…Om….

Andrew, do you have anything else that you wish to share?

Andrew: Thank you so much Monica. It has been really awesome connecting with you over the last couple of weeks. 

—End—

Here’s are a few of my favourite songs:

Interview with Canadian musician AARYS

Interviews
aarys photo
PHOTO CREDIT: LANE DORSEY

Contact

www.aarysmusic.com

Instagram: @itsaarys

Facebook: AARYS

By Monica Ng

Bedtime find

AARYS is an incredibly beautiful and talented singer and songwriter. On top of that – she’s CANADIAN! If you’ve read my other interviews with musicians Stuck on Planet Earth, Neon Dreams, Craig Stickland, jFEROcious, and King Khan – you would know how much I love Canadian music and supporting Canadian musicians. If you haven’t read those interviews – chop, chop! Check them out under my “Interviews” tab.

I was about to sleep when I came across AARYS’ music. I saw her name mentioned on a post relating to Stuck on Planet Earth or one of their band members. AARYS’ sultry and powerful voice in combination with the music hooked me immediately – a true gem of a discovery. I quickly bought a few of my favourite songs (Bad Thing, Different Kind of High and Leave the Light On) and looked forward to listening to them the next day.

About

AARYS, originally from the Niagara region, has made Toronto her home. Her debut single, Echo, became a SOCAN Song of the Week, and was featured on radio stations throughout Canada (e.g. CBC Radio 3 as one of “3 Ontario Songs You Need to Hear”). Her debut album, Secrets, was written in both Toronto and LA and released on April 5, 2019. Since then, she has joined Toronto label Division 88 and released a slew of new singles and remixes, with much more to come…

AARYS lives with anxiety and has become a strong advocate for mental health – releasing her song, Talk, on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2020 and organizing a singer-songwriter event as a fundraiser for CAMH. She has also spoken on the subject of mental health and music in a TEDx Talk back in 2018.  

Her music

Genre: alternative/pop/electronic

Echo (single) – 2018

Secrets (album)– 2019, songs include: What My Secrets Are, Arizona, Bad Thing, Different Kind of High, Heavy, Echo, It’s Good to Be King, Leave the Light On and Goodbye.

Talk (single) – 2020

Body Heat (single) –2020

Uninvited Guests, Glenn Gould (collab album) (Ft. the songs “No Roses” and “Better”) – 2020

Interview

Me: AARYS, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. You radiate such a positive energy from your IG photos and videos alone and it’s been great having a chance to chat with you. As I wrote up this interview, I was listening to your music and added “Talk” to my music collection. What a beautiful song.

Congratulations! You recently released your new singles “Body Heat” and “Talk”. You wrote on one of your IG posts that “Body Heat sits in the middle of two themes that hit you in the peak of lockdown: 1) the fear of losing closeness with someone you love (emotionally or physically) and 2) our very human need to touch, see and physically be with each other.”

COVID has affected the whole world in such a horrific way, but at the same time I heard many comments about the “good” things that have come out of it – mainly, the realization that there are more important things in life than being part of the rat race.

What were you doing at the time COVID took over the world stage?  And how did the pandemic affect you with respect to your music?

AARYS: Thank you so much! Before COVID first hit, I was making my living performing live full-time. I would play anywhere from 2-6 gigs in one week give or take, always commuting, and when I wasn’t gigging, I was out in the scene in some other way. I was very used to that fast-paced lifestyle, always performing and surrounded by people who would validate my talents with applause, although I would often burn out. The pandemic obviously put a complete stop to all of that. It was tough, mentally, to adjust and I got to thinking a lot about those themes in Body Heat as well as what I was going to do now. I wound up actually doing what I was always too busy to do before, which was learn how to start producing, as well as engineering my own vocal sessions. I’ve also been doing a lot of songwriting, getting tons of new stuff ready for release soon. And I actually enjoyed getting to stay put in Toronto all summer instead of being on the road. Of course, pandemic life still affects me mentally sometimes, but like you said there have been some silver linings.  

Me: I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how did you decide on AARYS as your alias? It’s an odd but interesting name.

AARYS: My first name is Sarah, and when I was about 15 or so in my first band, my bandmate started saying my name backwards, pronouncing it like “heiress”. It stuck.

Me: I saw your posts about “Uninvited Guests”. Can you explain the story behind that project?

AARYS: Myself and a collective of amazing artists, released an album that we all worked on together called Uninvited Guests. Division 88, which is the label I am a part of here in Toronto, partnered with Sony Masterworks and Primary Wave to distribute this project that remixes the works of the renowned Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. Gould spent his life doing things differently by creating his own interpretations of classical pieces; left the world of performing for the recording studio at age 31; and basically predicted our use of technology and the way we would be making and consuming music today. Billy Wild, as the lead producer and president of Division 88, worked for several years on being granted the rights to use Gould’s recordings, and along with a team of other producers and artists, created Uninvited Guests by sampling and remixing these classical pieces. The final result was an album that was a fusion of classical samples and modern, hip hop/electronic/ pop music. I’m featured on the songs “Better”, and “No Roses” (with Your Hunni and Ro Joaquim).

Me: That’s really interesting. I’ll have to check out the new music. I watched part of your video where you were at Kensington Market shopping for a mannequin to burn for your Body Heat video.  What is the symbolism behind the mannequin being burned?

AARYS: We were really just trying to come up with a unique way to physically represent someone’s “body heat”, so we made a body hot by lighting a fake one on fire!

Me: Where do you get your musical inspiration? And do you play any instruments?

AARYS: I play guitar, piano and can still rock the flute because I played all through high school and still have one of my own at home. I first got into guitar because of my Dad. He’s also a musician, so he was probably my earliest influence. I get my inspiration from my own life mostly – relationships, experiences and often my journey with mental health. I also get influenced by favourite artists of mine. Currently I’m most in love with Bishop Briggs, BANKS and Lennon Stella.

Me: How long have you been in the music industry? And what would you say was the “moment” where you determined your path as a musician?

AARYS: Well, I’m 25 now and I’ve been working as a musician since I was about 14/15 years old. I was involved in several projects and bands over the years, but I’d say the moment I determined my own path wasn’t until I started working on my album “Secrets”, with my first single as AARYS being released in 2018. That project was the first time I felt like I was finding my sound, and being myself, and it led me to some amazing people and opportunities. I also moved to Toronto because of working on that album, and that’s been the best move ever.

Me: Now that you’ve released Body Heat, Talk and Uninvited Guests, what’s next?

AARYS: Some cool things are still about to happen while we promote the Uninvited Guests project, so stay tuned for those. And next up, I have my next single on deck as well as another exciting collaborative project in the works.

Me: That’s is very exciting. Sounds like you’ve been very busy. My personal mission in life is to find happiness. I feel that life’s too short and you can’t keep putting off the things that you want to do, because it could be too late by the time you get hit with something unknown (like in my dad’s case, he always wanted to take the Transcanada train, but then he got hit with a life-changing stroke just months after his retirement). What are some things that you do to de-stress yourself and find balance in life?

AARYS: To de-stress, I need physical activity in my life. I just love weight training. I also go to therapy when I need to check in on myself, and always make time to have long talks with my family and close friends. Otherwise, I keep trying to find the balance between being so focused on my career, and just having fun as a 25 year-old woman with her whole life ahead of her. 

Me:  You are a big advocate for mental health awareness.  You talk openly about your personal battles with anxiety and self-doubt. I enjoyed reading your comments about your album, Secret. Basically, the album was a medium for you to expose your deepest feelings and thoughts, while allowing the writing process and singing heal you. I completely agree that music has a way of influencing our brains and emotions. Plus I find that the world is too quiet without music.

I watched your short video on YouTube where you talk about your therapy sessions and the “thought replacement” technique that you learned.  An example you gave was replacing a negative thought, in your words, “if I stand up for myself, people will think I’m a bitch” and replace the thought with a fact such as “I’m always empathetic, always care about feelings…and would never do anything that was mean, so why would they think I’m a bitch?”

I can relate to you, as I had a lot of self-doubt and emotional issues growing up and it took me decades to learn not to care what others think of me. What are your thoughts on mental health specifically relating to youth?

AARYS: I just think back to when I was younger, and very clearly living with anxiety, yet having no idea that’s what was happening until I was 21 and having a terrible breakdown. I think it’s important for mental health to be widely talked about and accepted so that youth can feel comfortable asking questions and learning about mental health early on. It’s always helpful to see how many other people deal with the same thoughts and feelings as we do.

Me: I ask this of every musician I interview – what tips or advice would you give to someone wishing to pursue a career as a musician?

AARYS: Try not to compare yourselves to other people, even though it’s hard when social media mainly shows you how awesome your peers are doing. Also, be as authentically yourself as you possibly can be, and you will be happiest with your art and find yourself surrounded by a lot of good people, in my experience.

Me: It was great discovering your music and having a chance to learn more about you. I’m proud of you for helping to breakdown the stigma surrounding mental health and sharing your vulnerability with others, in hopes that they can find a way to open up and get the help they need. It’s also amazing how you turned your negative thoughts and feelings into such masterpieces.

When the world ever returns to some form of “normal”, you’ll see me at your next live performance.

Is there anything else that you wish to share?

AARYS: You’re so sweet! Thank you for these thoughtful questions and I’m glad you’re a fan of my music! Last thing I’ll just reiterate is to stay tuned to my socials for a couple of online performances and upcoming releases being announced soon! Also, there’s a world-wide pandemic going on, so if anyone is feeling down or unmotivated, that’s entirely and completely ok. Check on yourself and talk to each other! 

—End—

Here are a few of my favourite songs: