I turned 30 last week.
Seems like just yesterday I was recording songs in my bedroom and playing my first hometown shows. Trading covers for original songs, usually two to one, as I worked to sell the DIY copies that I made in my parent's basement bathroom.
The first show I remember being different was at the Tongue'n'Groove in Lethbridge, AB. I was going to school at the U of L and it was the first time I remember really playing my own songs. The shows continually get better but there's a lot about writing songs and playing shows that still feels exactly the same today.
Mom planned my birthday this year. I couldn't think of something to commemorate the milestone adequately. The last birthday she planned was my ninth, so in line with that party I was expecting friends from school, pizza and two litre bottles of pop. She didn't disappoint -- it was a wonderful memorable evening.
Three years ago the cake was in the shape of a Jameson bottle, two years ago I ended up with a case of Jameson as a birthday gift. This year I got an e-reader. I quickly asked my friends if they'd delivered on my birthday wish list: decaf coffee, stevia, a Staples gift card and one of those oven mitts that looks like an alligator.
Three weeks ago I released a record called I Wanna Make It With You.
Thank you to all of those that have downloaded, streamed, shared and listened. I have been fortunate enough to be on this musical path for quite some time and have never been more proud of a collection of songs. So many wonderful people are involved in the project -- We have an incredible production team and band. Many of them came to the party and they are the kindest, most supportive group of people I have ever met.
We made the record at OCL studios, mixed both home and away and mastered the songs at Lacquer Channel. The single, (also called) "I Wanna Make It With You" has been charting on the Canadian alternative radio for the last 13 weeks. Stream the record, download it or order CD/Vinyl through our website. I'd appreciate you requesting the song at your local alternative station (belated birthday gift).
My record is a collection of hope-lined heartbreak songs. As I wrote it I was unsure of where the story would end and the songs are evident of that. Looking back, I think hope was the hardest part to write about. That feeling of hope is also the most relatable. Living in uncertainty, life on pause, longing for an off-chance possibility is a hard thing to do. We all do it. There are moments of steadfast determination, open roads, darkness and pain. The intimate honesty in the songs connects to people in a way I've never experienced as an artist.
A few of them are still tough to get through live.
We took cues from Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Don Henley and The War on Drugs -- dressed the songs in big drums, heavy guitars, strings, moog and backing vocals. The lyric is honest, simple and at times conversational. Staying true to those songwriters we didn't shy away from writing about love, highways, canyons, pickup trucks and thunder. Almost cliché at times, but the lyric never tries to be something its not. I call it music to get a speeding ticket to.
But don't take my word for it I'm quite biased.
In a cyclical way I feel music discovery now is like it was pre-internet, when people bought singles on 45. The internet and technology have made it easier than ever to record, release, download, stream, share, playlist, shazam, post and blog. There is so much music available -- it is really amazing.
The influence now, I believe, falls back on the individual. We curate our lives, and share these brands, art and culture choices in real time through the micro-communities and following we've built through social media. It's just as easy or hard to discover a song today as it was back when a friend had to put a 45 in your hand and say, "listen to this."
It is a time to get behind and celebrate the things you love -- be a part of the community and the story. I'm a believer that energy is as viable a commodity as anything else.
There is so much amazing music coming out of our country. Tobias Jesso Jr and Wintersleep made amazing records, We are the City was inspiring with the making and release of "Above Club." The Zolas are touring and making great songs.
In the east The Strumbellas are taking over with "Spirits." We've got Bahamas, Half Moon Run, Juno award winning Braids and the Arkells to be proud of. Elliott Brood is mapping and charting highways on the road -- I'd gladly catch their show every day of the week.
Sure we've got Drake, Bieber, Arcade Fire, The Weeknd, and Alessia Cara but we've also got Scratch Bastid and (in my opinion) the kindest man in Canadian music (and most prolific songwriter) Joel Plaskett. (It should be noted that Jim Cuddy watched us play during Juno weekend and he is as nice as it gets, too).
I guess it isn't the best idea to talk about other artists in an autoreview of my record but I think the message should be that whatever you're into is wonderful. Spread the word, share energy, go to shows, email and connect with the artists that move you. I'd love to meet you, listen to your favourite song and meet the people that make up your community.
A heartfelt thank you to the team of people around me. Thank you to my friends, my family and the Huffington post for the ongoing opportunity to engage with people through this community they've created.
30 feels good.
Photos by Allison Seto (@ajseto).
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