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We talk to Lovelife’s Lee Newell before the UK/NYC band plays Toronto

In Interview, Music on May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am


“Essentially, we’re a pop band. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a dirty word,” Lee Newell says through the phone from a parking lot somewhere in Boston. He is talking, of course, about his band Lovelife, who are currently touring across North America with Capital Cities and Gold Fields before joining The Neighbourhood.

Hailing from London, England, Newell and bandmate Ally Young (previously of Mirrors) moved to New York City last year to carve out a name for themselves. With their current tour in full swing and a recent appearance at SXSW, Lovelife is doing exactly that.

“We saved up what we had; the scraps from the sofa,” Newell says of the relocation. “It turned out to be the best thing we could have done.”

Lovelife chose NYC because of its vastness, but amidst the much-needed isolation, they also found new friends and a music scene much bigger than the one back home in the UK. “Everything is bigger in America,” Newell laughs. “The quality of the smaller up-and-coming bands is a lot better.”

Before forming Lovelife, Newell was a part of a somewhat up-and-coming band himself: Viva Brother, who received plenty of press both before and after their split in 2012. “It’s a natural thing; you shed your skin every so often,” he says of his evolution since then. Current bandmate Young was the catalyst for that evolution, for which he’s very grateful.

While Viva Brother was pure indie rock, Lovelife isn’t as easily defined. Synth-pop is what their music is commonly referred to as, but there’s certainly some R&B in there, too. Their lyrics often centre around failed relationships and a lack of love life—not unlike The Smiths who, along with ’90s pop music, Newell lists as influences. (He credits the latter—both “the really good songs and the horrible, horrible shit”—to growing up with Top 40-loving parents.) As for their musical process, Newell says that it varies song-to-song. The popular “Your New Beloved”, for example, was written in their Brooklyn apartment (while Hurricane Sandy was raging outside, no less) as a sort-of afternoon throwaway song.

Lovelife will be releasing their new EP Stateless next month which, as they’ve done with their previous EPs, is named after the place it was written – in this case, across several different states and continents over the past four months. (Their previous EP 4th Floor was written in their fourth floor apartment while El Regreso’s origin is in Brooklyn.)

“A platinum-selling, number one,” Newell jokes when I ask him what we can expect from the new EP. But with hype building and his band’s first full-length album on the horizon, he might not be far off.

Lovelife play the Virgin Mobile Mod Club next Monday, May 13 ($16 tickets are still available both online and at the door).

* Published on May 10, 2013 at She Does the City


Wildlife’s Dean Povinsky talks to us about SXSW, pre-show rituals, and what it means to be a Southern Ontario kid

In Interview, Music on March 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Photo credit: Wildlife

Wildlife are four friends from Ontario –  Dean Povinsky, Graham Plant, Dwayne Christie, and Derek Bosomworth –  that came together in the name of music back in 2006. Their sound is rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s the kind of rock that makes you feel something; evidence that the band puts everything they have into each song.

It’s been a busy month for Wildlife having released their new album …On The Heart and being a part of the SXSW music festival in Austin, and things don’t appear to be slowing down for the band any time soon. Currently in town for Canadian Music Week, I sat down with lead singer and guitarist Dean Povinsky at Bloorcourt coffee shop The Common to discuss all things Wildlife-related.

SDTC: You guys played SXSW very recently –  what was that experience like?
It was lots of fun. We’d never been down before so it was our first time. It was hot… the shows went well, the people were really nice. It was really hectic; it’s crazy down there.

You also released your sophomore album earlier this month. How does this one differ from your debut in terms of approach and style?

We worked with different people making this record – the last one was sort of done ourselves with our friend Mike. We did a lot of [this record] in the States with Peter Katis and Gus Van Gogh and so we had more at our disposal in terms of sound. It’s sort of an extension of our last record; our last had a very loose concept, everything was supposed to follow a certain arch and this one’s sort of the same. It’s a progression of the themes we dealt with the last time.

What’s your experience with Canadian Music Week been like?

Any of those things where it’s just five or six bands and you go, don’t really soundcheck and you play and you get off – it’s all very cut and dry. It’s more fun to do your own thing but we’ve had some good opportunities doing it.

What five words best describe Wildlife?

Does it have to be five? My stock answer is always romantic and violent. A-combination-of-romantic-violence.

What is your earliest musical memory?

My mom playing the Fraggle Rock theme song on piano and me doing somersaults on the living room floor.

Who inspires you musically?

My parents do; they definitely inspired me when I was young to do stuff. I think a lot of the same people that a lot of people would say in terms of rock ‘n’ roll – Stars, Bruce Springsteen, and Joe Strummer. I’m a really big fan of Dan Beckner from Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs; I wanted to see his new band down at SXSW but didn’t get to. Robyn I like a lot.

How did Wildlife come to be?

I was in Glasgow doing music stuff in the first version of this band and my friend and I decided we weren’t going to stay; he was going to move to Halifax and I was moving to Toronto. I talked to my friend Graham on the phone and he was about to move in with Dwayne and I said “I’m coming home, I’ve got all this stuff I want to keep working on” and that was when we decided to do it. Then we found Derek, our bass player, on Craigslist and that’s kind of it.

What influence has growing up in Southern Ontario had on your music?

My experience growing up in Southern Ontario has been pretty positive and so being positive is a big influence on it. Not being afraid to be silly and be dumb is a thing that I think a lot of Ontario kids have. They have a lot of freedom.

How does the writing and composing process work with their being several members?

It started out differently than it is now. At the start, it was all of these songs that I had and a lot of things were set and dry, and we sort of just learned them and recorded them. Over time, it’s definitely grown into more of a group participation. Most of the time, I have a song idea and some main parts, and I bring it to the band and we start jamming on it. Then we all just sort of butt heads until it becomes the thing that it is.

Any pre-show rituals?

We’ve got uniforms that we always wear –  so it’s like the putting on your uniform, doing stretches, tying up each other’s armbands, doing a couple shots maybe. Doing a bastardized version of “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts” [from] Friday Night Lights, the show. We do some stupid version of it, it’s like, “clear eyes, full hearts, get loose” or something like that.

How has the band evolved and grown from the time you formed to now?

We started out doing things a certain way and then one day we decided that we were going to try and do everything democratically. That was a really good shift in the band because it sort of centralized everyone’s vested interest in the band. Also, always trying to be conscious of our levels of communication has avoided us having to go to therapy. Trying to be really open with each other; you can fight about things and learn that the other person doesn’t hate you, they’re just trying to express themselves. Stuff can get pent up over months and months and months and then get explosive so we try and deal with things as they come now.

What are your favourite spots in Toronto?

This spot’s good; I like The Common. There’s a taco place I went pretty recently that was amazing called Playa Cabana. I go to The Ossington a lot… I go there for trivia called Brass Facts that my friends do and I usually end up there at some point during the week.

What does the rest of 2013 hold for the band?

We just put our record out and we’re doing a lot of prepartion to get that moving; a lot behind-the-scenes things for the last couple of months. We’re going to be doing a tour across Canada in late-May, early-June and then that will sort of dictate the way the rest of the year goes. I’d like to go to Europe in the Fall so that’s a possibility for us.

(Check out Wildlife’s music video for “Born To Ruin” from their new album …On The Heart and their Facebook page for band stuff.)

* Published on March 21, 2013 at She Does the City

Rising singer/songwriter ZZ Ward talks to us about performing on Conan, making the move to L.A., and getting a puppy

In Interview, Music, Q&A on March 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Photo credit: ZZ Ward

From late night talk shows to mentions in Rolling Stone magazine, ZZ Ward is taking the music world by storm. And really, it’s no surprise—the girl is talented, has collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, and has a song that was remixed by Passion Pit. Her debut album Til the Casket Drops is a unique blend of blues, hip-hop, soul, and pop, and includes the hits “Put the Gun Down” and “Criminal.” Currently on tour with Delta Rae, we spoke to ZZ before her show at The Mod Club (which is tonight!).

SDTC: You performed on Conan recently. What was that experience like?
ZZ Ward: It was the second late night TV appearance that I’ve done, and I had a ton of fun on it. I wasn’t really expecting to go talk to Conan and Andy on the couch at the end and that was pretty exciting!

SDTC: What’s your earliest music-related memory?
ZZ Ward:
When I was a little kid, my dad would always try to get me and my cousins to sing for him. We actually have it on video. I think we were around five years old. My cousin would be too shy to sing but I was a total camera hog.

SDTC: Your album Til the Casket Drops has a unique blend of soul, blues, and hip-hop. Who do you draw inspiration from?
ZZ Ward:
I draw inspiration from a lot of old blues like Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Howlin’ Wolf, and Tina Turner, and then hip-hop like Outkast, Nas, and Jay-Z.

SDTC: You’ve collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Fitz of Fitz and the Tantrums—is there anyone else you’d love to work with?
ZZ Ward:
Yes. I would love to work with Salaam Remi, Azealia Banks, or Gary Clark Jr.!

SDTC: What was it like making the move from Roseburg, Oregon to L.A. to pursue a career in music?
ZZ Ward:
It was terrifying. I really didn’t know where to start—I just knew that I wanted to do music professionally. I felt really lost when I first came down; I didn’t know anyone or have any friends. I just started booking my own shows and going from there.

SDTC: What 5 musicians/bands are you really into right now?
ZZ Ward:
Lately I’ve been listening to Azealia Banks, Lianne La Havas, Gary Clark Jr., Frank Ocean, and Alt-J.

SDTC: What’s it been like touring with Delta Rae?
ZZ Ward:
It’s been really fun. They are all really great people and that’s always really important when you’re touring with someone. We have similar styles of music, so it’s kind of a party on the road every night. Every time fans come up to us afterwards they’re usually really into both bands.

SDTC: Besides touring, what else does 2013 hold for you?
ZZ Ward:
I’m getting a Border Terrier on March 17! I’m super excited and obsessed with my new puppy. I just keep looking at photos of Border Terriers. Her name is Muddy Waters and she’s going to be a road dog and be out with me on tour.

* Published on February 28, 2013 at She Does the City

An interview with local singer-songwriter Ashleigh Semkiw, who dazzled us on Saturday at The Great Hall

In Interview, Music on March 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Photo courtesy of Ashleigh Semkiw

Ashleigh Semkiw is a local singer, songwriter, musician, and operatic soprano who held her EP release at The Great Hall this past Saturday. The venue was packed full of family, friends, and fans, and for good reason: this woman can sing!

Performing alongside her band of 10 (which included violinists, a bassoonist, and a cellist!), Ashleigh sang songs off her new EP, which is a mix of progressive pop, classical, singer/songwriter confessional, and rhythm and blues. (Think Tom Waits meets Kate Bush.) It’s nearly impossible not to be captivated by her vocals; powerful one minute and vulnerable the next. Each one of her songs received cheers from the crowd, but it was her encore of Stevie Wonder’s “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” that really blew me away. There’s very few who can cover a legend’s song and make it their own, but she did.

Though Ashleigh’s new EP has the singer taking a new direction musically, she is still committed to her opera career, and will be heading to Chicago in April to sing the role of  “Vava” in Shostakovich’s “Moscow Cherymoushki.”

I met with Ashleigh the day before her EP release at Sam James Coffee Bar to get to know the woman behind the vocals. Here are some basic factoids:

1. Her musical career began after being cast in her high school’s production for the Sound of Music. A retired opera singer was in the audience and approached her mom afterwards about enrolling Ashleigh in opera singing lessons. “I was pretty hooked right away,” says Ashleigh.

2. Her favourite spots in Toronto include Sam James Coffee Bar, Speakeasy TattooGood Fork, the Red Light (1185 Dundas St. W.), Communist’s Daughter (1149 Dundas St. W.), and the Black Hoof (which she declares as one of the best restaurants in the city).

3. Her top three places to include on a fantasy tour would be Chicago, Hong Kong, and Rappahannock County in Virginia. I hadn’t heard of the latter but she told me it’s one of the most beautiful places she’s ever been to.

4. Her musical taste includes A$AP Rocky, Tribe Called Quest, Azealia Banks, Annie Lennox, Bjork, Sarah Vaughan, Kurt Elling, and Ani Difranco.

5. She loves being on stage: “it’s more vulnerable; more exposing.”

Check out Ashleigh Semkiw’s official website and watch her perform on YouTube.

* Published on March 12, 2012 at She Does the City

Space Ibiza Festival Preview: Q&A with Berlin DJ duo and childhood friends M.A.N.D.Y.

In Interview, Music, Q&A on May 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Photo credit: Ragnar Schmuck

Berlin’s M.A.N.D.Y. consists of childhood friends Philipp Jung and Patrick Bodmer, who prefer to keep an air of mystery around the true meaning behind their acronym; toying with various possibilities such as Me AND You. When it comes to their music, the duo is dedicated to making bodies move; pushing the boundaries of dance music with their “electro kissing house while caressing disco and flirting with techno.” The boys have also created a revolutionary touring show that involves infrared technology and a new mapping technique to project inverted video effects onto their physical form as they perform. Whatever this means, we’re very intrigued.

Heading Space Ibiza Toronto this Saturday, the duo tells us about how their relationship with dance music began, their favourite cities to party in and how they handle creative differences.

SDTC: When and where did you relationship with dance music begin?
In a small town in the South West of Germany right at the French Boarder. It’s called Saarbrücken and that where we met in 85. The first Acid House parties took place in ’89 in our area. So we got hooked around that time.

In your opinion, what makes a good remix?
Ideally you would keep the song structure to some extend and just do your own interpretation of it. I think you should be able to recognize the original song; that is most important and the biggest challenge sometimes.

How would you describe the M.A.N.D.Y. experience in one sentence?
Learnt everything, then forgot it all.

What are some of your favourite cities to party in?
It’s still exciting to come to places where you have never been and get a guided tour from somebody who knows the good spots – doesn’t get boring luckily! Otherwise we love to play in cities where we have lots of friends who we can hang out with and spend some quality time.

Being a duo, how do you handle creative differences?
That is just like in any other long term relationship. Lots of talking, step back a little when you are thinking you are right as you are maybe not, listening and sometimes fighting for your point of view.

What can we expect from your show at Space Ibiza?
Space is always special and always different. We sit down before those shows, but we leave it a bit open. As people change every week on the island you have to be prepared that what was working last time may not work this time.

Check out M.A.N.D.Y.’s Myspace for tracks, tour information and more.

* Published on May 26, 2011 at She Does the City

Folk tales, road trips to Winnipeg and transforming the lives of hipsters with Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers

In Interview, Music, Q&A on April 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Photo credit: Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers

Any band that performs music about “the sexual misadventures of heavy machinery, the nighttime journeys of little boys and lions born of a human womb,” let alone has a name like Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers, is well worth a listen. The sextet of classically-trained musicians from Winnipeg released their premier full-length album, Hans my Lion, in March of this year and have since been touring across Canada to promote it. After you check it out, be sure to take a listen to their original rock opera concept album The Wild Things, inspired, yes, by the iconic children’s story Where the Wild Things Are.

SDTC: Your band name is incredibly cool! What’s the story behind it?           

The ancestry of the name is as follows:
MothaFunkers (2 shows)
MothaFolkers (1 show)
The Dwarf Hamster Big Band (1 show)
Dorian Funk’s Blues (1 show)
Rudolph and the Scarlet Harlots (1 Christmas show)
Flying Fox and the Scarlet Harlots (1 hypothetical show)
Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers (probably at least 2000 shows)

What are some of your favourite folk tales?
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. Maybe not folk tales as such, but a wonderful read.

How would you sum up your new album in one sentence?
Hans (lion + boy) => Mother => sexual education(machines + feelings) => Melodrama (lust + regret) => Epic Orchestral Denouement => Nudity on Cover.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
We try to keep it pretty broad, but if forced to, on this day I would boil it down to J.S. Bach, Tom Waits, Jim Henson, and David Attenborough.

If we were planning a summer road trip to Winnipeg, what are the top 5 places we would have to visit?
The Statue of Louis Riel at the Legislative building.
The Weird Naked Statue of Louis Riel hidden behind a church in St. Boniface.
The Mini-Donut shop at the Forks.
The unfinished Museum of Human Rights.
The Manitoba Museum to see the Nonsuch (it’s a big ship inside an even bigger building, neatest thing in Winnipeg).

What band or musician, past or present, would you love to collaborate with?
I would love to learn from Gregory Kozak, instrument inventor and composer from Vancouver.  I wish someday to do something like what he does.

What can we expect from your live show?
Hopefully improbably large puppet heads, sweat, and a sonic experience that will make even the plaidest indie hipster gain new appreciation for musical theatre.

What does the rest of 2011 have in store for you guys?
1/3 of the band are getting married this year, so there’s that. We’re also hoping that a Best Operatic Indie Jazz Album category will be added to the Junos, for which we expect to be a shoe in.

Check out Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers’ Myspace for tour dates and music.

* Published on April 26, 2011 at She Does the City

Discussing manhood and music with Adam Cohen

In Interview, Music, Q&A on April 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

After quitting the music biz five years ago, Adam Cohen is back with Like A Man – an album that is not only representative of him giving music a second chance, but a tribute to his last name. Yes, Adam is the son of Canadian music legend Leonard Cohen and after years of trying to be anything but his father, he decided it was time to embrace his roots; his latest album a collection of 10 songs that are both reminiscent of Leonard’s classic recordings and representative of Adam’s intimate songwriting and musical talent.

You’ve said Like A Man is you finally embracing your family name. What made you decide to take this approach with the album? It was just time to be great, or at least try to be; “Great men undertake great things because they are great, and fools because they think them easy.” I was closer to a being a fool my whole life in music, more interested in being successful than good. More preoccupied with participating in the feast and glamour of the music business then working hard to show myself in true colors and carving out a place for myself among (or near) the greats that inspired me. I just wasn’t that great, so I never even attempted to be so.

How would you compare the musician you were when you began your career to the musician you are now? I’m lucky to have been given a new lease on music in my life; a chance to correct the impression some may have come to regarding what I did, who I was. I’m not embarrassed by my past, but I’m more eager than ever to show my present, and more hopeful about my future.

What was the moment when you decided you were going to make a career out of music? It feels like music chose me, or perhaps I just wasn’t chosen by anything else. I went the only place I felt it was natural, the only place I felt called. It was less of a decision than a response to a calling, a loud, clear calling from a voice within and without, that I’ve heard since very, very little, no doubt because of the family I grew up in.

What and who inspires you? The greats inspire me—the greats of music, of film, of novels, of poetry, of sports. Even a good commercial can inspire me. What I do with that inspiration is a different story, sometimes all too little, sometimes (if I’m lucky) I’ll get a good tune out of it.

Favorites of the past: Serge Gainsbourg, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, Randy Newman, Marvin Gaye, J.S. Bach, Prince.

Favorites of the present: Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, Ryan Adams, James Blake, Damian Rice, Jay-Z.

This album has a very romantic feel to it – what is romance to you? A demonstration of affection for a loved one, big or small, successful or not.

What are some of your favourite cities to perform in? I don’t have a favorite place to perform, only good circumstances make for a good show, and that’s all I want, good people, well attended venues, and being on stage with talent the likes of which I’m lucky to have had, many times.

When it comes to songwriting, do lyrics tend to just come to you or is it more consciously done? Or both? I work hard and long to get the lyric right. It’s not easy for me, whilst the music comes quickly.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Work harder than you want to, much harder, when you want to give up; that’s where the real work begins.

For more on Adam Cohen, check out his website.

* Published on April 12, 2011 at She Does the City

Meet Michael Rault, the Swoonworthy Rocker We Can’t Stop Listening To

In Interview, Music, Q&A on November 24, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Photo credit: Ryan Fujiki

Take one look at Michael Rault and the first thought that comes to mind is total rock n’ roll dude. Listen to his music, and you realize he’s a total rock n’  roll dude with loads of talent. At 21, Rault (son of musician Lionel Rault) has already released four albums, been a part of several bands including his most recent, Michael Rault and the Mixed Signals, and managed to capture the musical vibes of the 50’s and 60’s magnificently as a solo artist and multi-instrumentalist. Currently touring across Canada with Bedoin Soundclash and Charlie Winston, the Edmonton native filled us in on life on the road, what it’s like to have a musician as a dad, and why you’ll love his latest album.

Rault plays the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on November 30. Free download of “Lay Right Down & Die” here.

How would you describe your musical style?
I generally just say rock and roll. There are a lot of influences, and they are becoming increasingly vast and varied as I move along from project to project. This album is definitely coming out of a lot of 50’s and 60’s pop, soul and R&B, with some punkier elements, some garage, some lo-fi… I guess that’s a bit of a description.

What are the differences in dynamicsri between being part of a band and doing the solo thing?
You get to do what you want when you are playing solo, or when you are the definitive band leader. Collaboration is great when you find the exact right people who all think alike, but all of the democratic bands that I’ve been in were pulled in too many different directions a the same time. Eventually I decided to go solo, just to try doing my ideas the way I thought they should be done, just to see if it would work, and I’ve pretty much been playing solo, or in my own projects ever since, except for a few brief stints in other bands.

You’re currently touring across Canada so do you have any good stories from being on the road?
Oh man, this is a hard one. I’m on the bus with Charlie Winston and his band and crew, and my sister is here, too.  A lot of funny stuff has happened, but I have a feeling that if I tried to explain any of the stories they would just come off sounding really juvenile. Right now, we’re a day into the epic journey from Toronto to Winnipeg, and we’re stopped in a town called Cochran, Ontario for the next 12 hours. And we only have two more days on the bus until our next show. We plan on passing the time here in Cochran by bowling, hanging out in a hot tub at the hotel…and…I don’t know what else.

If you could jam with three musical icons, past or present, who would they be?
Oh, I just got this question recently in a different interview, but I was only allowed two musical icons… last time I said John Lennon and Fela Kuti, but I don’t know if I’m happy with that choice right now. Okay, for now I’m going to say I’ll stick with John and Fela, but I’ll throw Allen Toussaint into the mix.  I think he might smooth things out. He’d probably provide some arrangements for what would otherwise just be a crazy jam session. Plus he might lively things up a bit, because he’s he only one who isn’t dead.

What kind of influence has your father had on your musical career?
He taught me everything I know on guitar, or at least all the stuff I couldn’t learn on my own. He showed me a lot of cool music, and between the stuff I heard through him, and the stuff that I tracked down on my own, I got to know about a lot of obscure music at a pretty young age. He has also reinforced my perspective on music in general throughout the years.  He’s maintained a pretty youthful, rebellious outlook on life. When you talk to veteran musicians a lot of them are kind of broken by the music industry a lot of the time. It’s nice to know at least one old person who still has a fairly rock and roll perspective on what’s going on.

What are your favourite spots in Edmonton?
I haven’t been hanging out there a lot lately, but…The end of the world is awesome. It’s an abandoned sidewalk and road that collapsed into the river valley. All that’s left is a sidewalk that hangs out over a forty foot drop. It looks like the cover of Shel Silverstein’s “Where The Sidewalk Ends”. Also, there’s an abandoned wooden stairway that makes its way down an almost sheer cliff where the university campus descends down into the river valley. It’s pretty treacherous and you’re technically not supposed to go down there, but on a warm summer night, you can sit on the bottom platform and look through the trees down to the river and you can see the lights from downtown on the horizon. Both of those spots are great for hanging out in the summer. Otherwise it’s best to hang out at whatever venue is the current spot that cool bands play at. It seems to change every month or so.

Your shows seem very intimate and personal – is this something you’re conscious of?
Intimate sounds too touchy feely. I enjoy energetic shows, and I like to feel that the crowd is into it, so for that reason I find that smaller club shows are preferable. I like to actually feel what I’m doing, rather than just act the part of how I was feeling back when I wrote these songs. I think I’m looking for immediacy as much or more than intimacy.

For those who haven’t heard your latest album (Ma-Me-O) yet, what can they expect?
Fun songs about heartbreak and being lonely. A lot of reverb, echoes, yelling, pleading etc. Listen to it, you’ll get the picture.

* Published on November 24, 2010 at She Does the City

An Interview with Leif Vollebekk

In Interview, Music on January 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

A few basic facts about Leif Vollebekk: he’s not from Sweden (although he has a thing for anything Germanic), he’s superstitious and he likes trains.

If you haven’t yet heard of this Canadian crooner, you soon will. His new album Inland, re-released last week at the Cameron House in Toronto, has garnered plenty of buzz along with comparisons to Bob Dylan—a huge compliment for a humble folk singer from Montreal.

“I feel like I found Jesus,” he says about the comparison. “Not that Bob’s Jesus, but he’s pretty divine.”

Channeling early Dylan, Vollebekk’s Inland is a lot like a musical postcard, which makes sense given that most of the songs were written while he was in Iceland. The end result is a perfectly layered album of understated vocals, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and an impressive range of instruments.

Despite his love of travelling, Vollebekk has an even bigger love for Montreal—a city he credits with producing an impressive number of personable records by the likes of Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire, just one of the many reasons he chose to settle down there.

He may not see it yet, but I think it’s safe to add Vollebekk to the list of musical darlings to come out of Montreal. Even more impressive is that despite how musically gifted he is, he is incredibly modest, made clear when I mention how famous he’s becoming. “Really? REALLY?” he laughs.

As for what’s next, Vollebekk has plans to eventually begin touring outside of Canada, along with putting the finishing touches on his next album.

“I thought it was finished, but now I have to fix it,” he said, knocking on wood.

* Published on Jan. 28, 2010 at She Does The City