Toronto songwriter Jay Pollock is a man of balance. He loves playing and performing music, but it is far from the only important thing in his life. In a refreshing turn from a lot of our conversations, Jay took issue with the myth that one has to quit their job in order to be a true artist and talked a lot about how his mindset for songwriting has changed since he’s become more financially solvent.
Toronto singer-songwriter Erika Werry can pump you up with an anthemic rock hit or induce goosebumps with a heartfelt folk song. She has made a name for herself by consistently writing great songs and putting on an honest and energetic live show with her band Erika Werry & The Alphabet. Her introduction to music came through classical and modern dance and she’s been releasing records for more than a decade. In one of the more process-focused episodes to date, Derek and Travis sat down with her to talk about allowing yourself to evolve as a songwriter and to learn as you go.
Stage fright nearly grounded Kira May’s music career before it even got underway. Now her stage presence is a big part of her appeal. Kira sat down with Derek and Travis to talk about overcoming her fears, discovering how to use her voice as her instrument, and the inherent risks in live performing with intricate looping.
For a man who finds himself a member of one of the most established and successful rock bands in Canada, Big Sugar’s Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe is eminently humble. Not only is he one of the country’s best harmonica players, he’s got some real songwriting chops and is steeped in the country and gospel tradition. The Windsor native sat down with Travis for a look back on his career which didn’t get underway until well into his 20s and didn’t become his full-time gig until well into his 30s.
With Delta Will’s new record Weathering, hot off the press, Derek and Travis sat down with its front man Charles Tilden in the living room of the Toronto home he shares with future guest Kira May. In one of the podcast’s more emotional conversations, Charles opens up about the tragedy that struck his former band Parks and Rec, about how that event shaped his musical career, and about the sonic evolution of Delta Will.
Corinna Rose started in folk music as part of a unique ensemble band in an all-girls private school, but didn’t start making a true go of it until she was in her early twenties. She has since quit her job and is a rare full-time musician. She sat down with Derek and special guest co-host Rachael Cardiello to talk about the role of academia in songwriting, how Corinna came about her distinctive songwriting style, and the relationship between performance and mental health.
Brendt Thomas Diabo is both an established actor and an established singer-songwriter steeped in the country and blues tradition. By way of the Kahnawake Reservation on Montréal’s south shore, Diabo now resides in Toronto where Derek and Travis caught with him to talk about, among other things, the songwriting process, what makes a good character-driven song, and his uncanny ability to write anywhere.
Max Marshall has undergone no small transition over the last few years. From trying to make a go of songwriting in Toronto, to studying folklore at Memorial University in Newfoundland, to becoming a father and moving back to the Windsor area, he’s grown as a person and a musician. Derek sat down with Max in his quaint Essex County home after a meal of steak and lobster to discuss authenticity in songwriting, pursuing art while raising a family, and folk music’s lack of place in contemporary culture.
The first time we sat down with Ron to record an interview over a year ago, we caught him between construction shifts, exhausted, and frustrated with balancing those things and a music career all at once. The interview never aired and we promised we’d come back to it when the time was right. That time is now as Travis sat down with the consummate career songwriter for a do-over in his Windsor apartment. Ron opened up about the precariousness of working construction and trying to maintain a music career, transitioning back to music full-time and getting to work on his third full-length album with producer Andy Magoffin.
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Kevin Head, but there are few songwriters in Canada who’ve accomplished what “The Original Salt Cod Cowboy” has. The Nova Scotia native been writing and recording music for nearly forty years and has performed alongside some of the best musicians in the country. Derek sat down with Kevin at The Tranzac Club in Toronto to talk about the challenges of making music and art your full-time job, the many hats songwriters must wear to do this, and how playing live music has changed over the years.
After the interview, we preview next week’s episode with Ron Leary by playing clips of an interview we did with him last year that we never aired.