Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 18

AS HEARD ON... Stefanie Blondal Johnson of MISE EN SCENE For the full interview, listen to the June 28, 2017 episode CM: Tell me about the experience of writing the new record, Still Life on Fire, while doing a residency by yourself at the Banff Centre? ANDY CURRAN Anthem Legacy & ole Label Group For the full interview, listen to the July 19, 2017 episode CM: While working on the Stompin’ Tom Connors 50 th Anniversary collec- tion, what struck you as being par- ticularly special about his music? Curran: I think Tom’s writing, it’s overlooked in terms of how great it is. I’ve always been a big fan of injecting some humour into music. I did it with my bands, and I didn’t make comedy records, but I think the wit that Stompin’ Tom had in some of his lyrics has not been celebrated as much as it could. Ken Dryden wrote the foreword and said Tom did it in a such a simple way and a lot of his music, you could argue, in terms of his chord structures and his arrangements are quite simple and it’s not like Rush or a prog band; it’s quite simple in how it gets across. But when you start getting into his lyrics and start getting into the phrasing and the cadence of how he writes, I just think he’s a brilliant songwriter and I think it’s often overlooked when people get caught up in the patriotism of what he’s done. But certainly his songwriting ability, it’s just so quirky and clever. You’ve got a guy who can write about all these places in Canada and then turn around and write about a hockey mom and then write about “Margo’s Cargo” about some manure being dumped on the street and stuff. I grew up touring Canada and heard about this guy and always just loved the humour in it. Johnson: I had so much writer’s block and I just couldn’t write a song and I’m like, “I need to get back to the music, back to the craft.” I’d been to the Banff Centre prior for the [Independent Music Residency] and loved it there, so I was like, “I’m going to apply for a residency and I’m going to go for two months.” I wanted to go for a really long time where I had lots of time to stretch my legs and hopefully get over this writer’s block. So I went there, rented a little cabin in the woods, and for the first two weeks it wasn’t flowing, but by the third week every- thing kind of opened up and flowed… I loved being [at the Banff Centre] because it really is like camp. You’re around all this beautiful nature with the mountains and the wind and the wildlife and there is a certain amount of solitude there. There are also your peers, though, which is really in- teresting. When you’re in the musician’s residency program, everyone is working on dif- ferent things. Some people are working on PhD auditions, some people are working on musicals, and some people are working on their jazz performance or they’re composing classical music or writing an opera; all these different things. I was definitely the minority as a rock and roller but I met some really amazing people and had some really amazing, inspiring sessions with them and I think being around that diversity of people – everyone from New York, from Spain, from London, from Vancouver and Toronto, from all over the world I was meeting people. But we all had days where you’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t look at an instrument right now.” VIVEK SHRAYA For the full interview, listen to the July 12, 2017 episode CM: Having come out as a transgen- der woman before recording the new album, Part-Time Woman, which takes on trans issues and experiences very directly, was there an honesty and confidence in your writing and singing that were missing before? Shraya: Absolutely. I think that there have been many aspects of myself that I haven’t felt comfortable revealing through music. I think the six years away and exploring other mediums where I found a way to use my voice to talk about some of the issues I care about, the confidence I got from working in those mediums I was able to apply in the album. I’ll never forget when I first moved to Toronto, my manager at the time, she said to me, ‘No one’s going to sign a brown artist in Canada.’ If you look around at the Canadian music scene 15 years later, that hasn’t really changed too much, that sort of warning. So I think for me, t \H\BX[H[X]]\X]H[ZHH[&]X[H۝^K]\]\^HXH܈^H[\܈^H^X[ B]K]\[[KH[HX[^Y][[H[X\۸&]X[B\[YHZ]\\[]\\\و[YX[]\XX[Y[]\HY\^H] KU]˘[YX[]\XX[Y[˘KY\[ZY\[XX\\H\\]Y]H]H[[HX\Y][H[YH܈ۛYY\[U[\\ N8(HHHHHHHHH