Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Hello and welcome to my first blog post! It is my hope that this blog space can give people (well, whoever’s interested!!!) a more intimate look at what I’m up to these days. I thought it would be appropriate to start with an introduction of who I am as a singer/songwriter/PERSON and what lead to the release of “July for the Whole Year.” I’ll try to keep it brief because I’m sure we’ll get to know one another better as time goes on.
Okay, for starters: I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, though I’m not quite sure when I began writing songs. I think I started writing tangible songs when I turned angsty (maybe 10-12 years old). In any case, I’ve always felt things very deeply, and I’ve always felt an inherent urge to expel these feelings through songs and written word, more generally.
Some major musical influences throughout my life include (listed in chronological order from my earlier memories to my later ones): Norah Jones, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and most recently, Maggie Rogers. These are artists that I have consumed in a feverish, listen-on-repeat-for-months sort of way. Shania Twain was a particularly feverish phase when I was 6 or 7. I remember mouthing the words to “That Don’t Impress Much” in a pretend-the-mirror-is-camera kind of way in the solitude of my childhood bathroom, silver & pink CD player whirring in the corner.
Throughout my life I’ve been in and out of singing lessons, dance lessons, performance groups. (Piano lessons didn’t stick; my teacher excused me as his student by saying, ever-so-gently, “You never learn anything when you come here… You just cry and talk about your problems. I think what you need is a therapist, hon…” I was an emotional wreck for most of my early adolescence. Poor guy.) My parents have always supported me in my musical pursuits, and I owe everything to them.
When I was 14, I was mentored by Bruce Innes, former member of the Canadian folk group “The Original Caste.” I plan to dedicate a whole blog post to Bruce (because he deserves it), but for now I’ll say that he was an amazing mentor to me. He helped me produce a demo CD of 10 original songs. When it was done, I refused to show anyone. I don’t remember this at all, but my mom says that I made a huge fuss about it. I didn’t want anyone beyond close family listening to it. Looking back, I honestly don’t know why. I remember being extremely hard on myself, emotional, anxious. And I think the whole situation was probably heightened by the fact that I was a terrific prima donna. (I don’t know why I’m writing in the past tense as if I’m not still an anxious prima donna at 22…)
I took a break from “doing” music shortly after that time. I kept writing songs for the love of it, but I stopped taking singing lessons, ceased my lessons with Bruce. I finished high school, applied to Queen’s. I joined some cool clubs at university that allowed me the opportunity to sing here and there. I played a couple shows in Calgary; once I opened at King Eddy for country artist Cole Bradley, and another time I sang at the Bella Concert Hall with Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (known by his fans as “MBF”). Those were very special moments for me, but I think what really catalyzed the uprooting of my entire plan-as-I-knew-it was when I started gigging this year.
During my final semester at Queen’s, I spent my Tuesday nights singing at The Brass Pub, a beloved student hotspot. Every week I brought an enormous binder filled with feel-good songs that I could cover with my average guitar-playing skills. I had a pretty good idea of what songs would humor the crowd of mostly-students based on the extensive experience I’d had partying at that point in my university career. Some nights I would play my original songs and people actually sang along. It was an incredible experience. Gigging at Brass made me realize how much I wanted and needed music to be a part of my life moving forward. So, I decided that after university ended, I would release something.
I started working with a producer (Michael Goldchain) in Toronto during March, right before COVID-19 started to seriously ramp up in Canada. We managed to squeeze in two in-person sessions in a studio before everything closed down. When Queen’s switched to being online, I went home to Calgary to self-isolate with family and I finished school from there. After that, I spent the summer riding a HUGE learning curve as Michael and I worked to finish “July for the Whole Year” over Zoom. I invested in some recording equipment, taught myself how to record and comp vocals in Logic, learned what the heck a distributor is. I cried a lot. And after re-recording the “final vocal” three times and employing my sister to take some pics of me frolicking in a field, I released “July” to the distributor to be released on September 1st.
I never expected my first release to get as many streams as it did. It was so surreal and unbelievably validating. So, at the end of September, I ditched my plans of going to school for copywriting, packed up my shit, and moved to Toronto to pursue music full time. Since being here, I’ve been writing new songs, working with a vocal coach, learning how to produce demos on Logic (sort of), getting connected with cool people in the industry, working with Michael on some fresh tracks for 2021, and learning as much as I can about the industry that I’ve newly joined. Along the way I’ve been reminding myself to celebrate personal victories, check my fucking privilege (!!!), and trust the slow burn. I know in my heart that this is what I’m meant to be doing with my life, at least for now, and I’m so excited to see what happens. I would be honoured if you, dear reader, would join me for the ride.
Wishing you a very happy (and healthy) holiday season,