I interviewed Jason Collett recently and have already posted the article I wrote afterward. However, for those of you that are interested, I’ve decided to post the transcript of the interview.
We talked about the state of the music industry in Canada, the importance of musical community, drinking and writing up at Feist’s ranch, and the artist Collett deems “a national treasure” and “the best songwriter of [his] generation.” It was a really insightful 30 minutes, and Collett had a lot to say, so get ready for big paragraphs of text!
With Jason Collett’s musical repertoire, it’s hard to believe he’s a carpenter by trade.
A veteran to the Canadian music scene, Collett’s toured with powerhouse collective Broken Social Scene, collaborated with artists like Feist, Emily Haines, and Hawksley Workman, and garnered critical acclaim in Canada as well as across the border.
But Collett isn’t quick to forget his humble roots.
Collett says he was skeptical of having the luxury of time to write when he made his transition from musical hobbyist to full-time musician after joining BSS.
“But it allowed me to really appreciate the little things, and I felt it was a real blessing to get,” he says.
However, Collett doesn’t have much free time in his schedule these days. This year has been one of the busiest for the indie rocker.
He’s been touring all year and released Rat a Tat Tat, his fourth full-length solo album, along with the companion EP To Wit To Woo in March. He released Pony Tricks — a collection of stripped-down acoustic recordings of some of his songs — just last month.
Rat a Tat Tat, a collaborative project with Mike O’Brien and Carlin Nicholson of Zeus, also made the 2010 Polaris Prize long list, spawning the catchy bass-driven single, “Love Is A Dirty Word.”
“It was more of an organic project that way,” Collett says of the collaboration. “We’ve developed a really good rapport as friends and musicians. They know me well and I trust them […] so it was a natural fit.”
As a result, the writing and recording process this time around varied from the familiar structure of past albums. Collett wrote songs with actual players in mind instead of having a revolving door of various musicians coming to play on the record.
“We just went in the studio and messed around,” Collett says. “And I find working that way really fruitful because you’re getting first impressions […] and nine times out of ten, if you’re going on good instincts, that’s what you want — that’s where the magic is.”
And for Collett, the magic itself is really in the mystery of songwriting.
“There’s a real element of mystery to [songwriting],” he says. “It’s like, where the hell do these things come from? Because I feel like I’m more of a vehicle than an inventor of songs.”
Recording in various studios and different environments, including an obligatory 48-hour “classic late night shambolic” recording session at Feist’s ranch, also added to the feeling of spontaneity on Rat a Tat Tat.
“[When] you’re up all night, tipsy and tired, and your brains are smoked out, you get to a very disarmed place where your intellect is fried,” Collett says. “So you’re just going on pure instinct.”
He hopes to expand on the intimacy of instinct on his current solo acoustic tour, aptly titled the “Undressed Tour,” where one can expect a reworking of his vast catalogue into stripped-down sessions of just him and his guitar — much like on Pony Tricks.
Bringing along Al Tuck, a musician he praises as “the greatest songwriter of [his] generation,” Collett is excited to play London’s Aeolian Hall — a venue he says really lends itself to a listening room.
“I find that I really like being able to play that way, be really vulnerable, and have less distance between the stage and the audience,” Collett says. “I think it’s ultimately what you’re trying to achieve — to have some kind of communication with who you’re playing with.”
This article was originally published on WesternGazette.ca
**Transcript of interview can be read here.
Thursday night at the El Mocambo was Holly Miranda’s second visit to Toronto in the past 9 months and her first headlining show in support of her debut solo album “The Magicians Private Library”; and the young up and coming artist not disappoint.
Having it been my first time at the local iconic venue, which has hosted The Rolling Stones and Stevie Ray Vaughn, I was pleasantly surprised by it’s clean open space and good sight lines. My only gripe would have to be its muddy sound system that seemed be more of a problem for opening band, Braids. Luckily sound issues got sorted out by the time Holly Miranda was in to her second song.
Canadian act Braids seemed a good match to open for Miranda as their music has the same layered ethereal sounds and textures and haunting vocals. Although they played to quite an empty venue, those who gathered near the front of the stage were engaged–including Holly. And the band seemed unfazed by the small size of the crowd and content on playing their hearts out for whatever number of ears were in the building.
The audience had grown by the time Holly hit the stage at around 11, but the Elmo still wasn’t at what you would call full capacity. Regardless, her set was full of heart and passion, and that was evident in the way she sang her words and the way she closed her eyes as she lost herself in the music. Her songs were were sonically lush and thick in texture and reminiscent of a humid summers night, perfectly mirroring the weather that night, but there is something else in her music–a sort of wide-eyed wonder, if you will–that seems to be ingrained in the melodies. In-between songs, the man beside me turned to me and said, “I’ve never heard of her before, but she’s amazing!” The late-night concertgoers were clearly into the music as they swayed with the music, beer in hand. Highlights of Holly Miranda’s performance were “Waves,” her cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “Pelican Rapids”–her new song about how ‘everyone should be allowed to marry whoever the f–k they want’. If there’s one thing I was a bit disappointed in, it was the lack of banter; but then again, it’s really all about the music in the end, isn’t it? The girl was a sweetheart, the music was good, and it didn’t hurt that she was easy on the eyes as well.
Check out Holly’s previous musical outfit, The Jealous Girlfriends.
I’m not going to lie. I’m a huge sucker for beautiful harmonies and I have a thing for adult contemporary music – it’s weird. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to music that is simply sugary sweet.
So I give you Dala, who is Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther. Their moniker comes from the last syllable of their first names. Smart.
With crystal clear voices that melt together to create the most beautiful harmonies, it seems as though the pair were made to sing together; it’s breathtaking, really.
Plus, they were the only Canadian act to play at this year’s legendary Newport Folk Festival which has played host to some of the great folk musicians like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell.
They met in high school and have been making beautiful music together since 2002. Dala has been around for a while on the Canadian music scene, but I just happened to stumble upon then recently. Enjoy!
For fans of: Chantal Kreviazuk, Indigo Girls
Take a listen!