Friday, February 27, 2009

Northern Heights

One could furiously scribble the endearing tales of Christianne Kearns happenings into a best selling promotions guide, but in deserved respect, lets keep tune with the topic at hand. Born and molded in Blind River, ON. and having a prototypical musician’s upbringing: standing out in church choir, winning talent shows, taking on open mics, scratching at venues for openings, searching out for love of a joined sound,.. Christianne could easily be blurred in the over capacity of singer/songwriters offered. But, with that voice and a propensity to not be bothered with industry thoughts in reaching her means, she finds herself gracing legendary stages (horseshoe tavern) and tackling noteworthy festivals (North By NorthEast) in support of her debut effort with a full fledged backing band.

Is this presently a full-time gig? How you supporting yourself?

Would love for music to be my full-time gig, but in the beginning you have to be patient. A lot of people say the business is about who you know, and I’m sure it plays an integral part in success, but overall I think music is still about how good you are, and whether or not people can relate to your material. Cecil Youngfox, this incredible aboriginal painter once said: 'You have to have peace of mind to paint well and for that comfortable feeling you need to be able to pay the bills.' I waitress to pay the bills, for that peace of mind needed to play well.

How did the recording of the debut come about? How did you finance it? How long did the recording process take?

My debut 'Doomsday Lovers' was essentially an accident. I moved into my apartment in Toronto and quickly became good friends with the couple (Sam and Gord) living downstairs. Gord happened to be this incredible musician who had toured Europe and north America in the 90’s with different ensembles, and we would often jam together. One night we came up with a really great arrangement for my song 'Wildfire', and I decided to finance the recording of that song myself. We went into studio 92 on the east end, and we developed a great chemistry with the sound engineer and the process came naturally. It became an addiction of sorts for me, I wanted to hear all my songs fully arranged and realized, to get them out of my head and into something tangible. It felt like every song was a dream come true. The album took 8 months to complete.

Admiring the willingness to alienate from the majority by showcasing "songs spiced with flamenco, reggae, Middle-Eastern and Afro-Cuban ingredients", how do you plan to rope the public in?

I’m not trying to alienate the majority, but it’s obviously important for me to feel like I’m bringing something new to the already incredible diverse portfolio of human music. My songs and my style are a reflection of the music I love and admire, and most of that music is coming from outside the Anglo-western world. I bought this Rough Guide to Gypsy Music before the recording of the album, and fell in love with the Roma percussion styles and the general spirit of their songs. Such collaboration and fierce passion! Here are people who have been persecuted and chased away where ever they’ve settled, but have relentlessly maintained strong communities held together by music. I hope to rope the public in with that same spirit of community, that people can feel like they’re part of something when they’re at my shows, because music belongs as much to the listener as to the performer.

Taking in stride that an artist is unlikely guaranteed a stable salary, rather must consistently petition their merit and worth over on strangers. How is this lifestyle more appealing than getting the traditional nine-to-five and using free time to alleviate the passion stress free? Why is there a need to have others hear your music?

When God blesses you with a talent, it’s your responsibility to develop that talent and cherish the gift by sharing it with others. Turning your back on your vocation is next to impossible if you intend on living an honest life. The traditional 9-5 would not be an honest choice for me simply because I would be channeling my energy and efforts away from the gift. There are more important things in life than a paycheck, although I’m in no way naive enough to believe it’s irrelevant. A person’s got to eat and have shelter. With music you may not be rewarded with a stable salary, but you’ll have your dignity in tact and your priorities in order. Success is completely relative to each person, I get my sense of success by staying true to my passion to sing and write.

How are you handling the business side of this cruel industry, learning on the job or leaving that in someone else's hands? Have the dreams diminished or been tainted by cold realities of the industry?

I’m currently self-managing the entire operation, and I’m learning everyday. I play in a band with 7 people, and getting so many people together for a single night is always a challenge, but they’re great musicians and I just feel so privileged to have them on stage. I try not to think about 'the industry', I’m well aware that most of the music on the radio is uninspired and completely redundant, and I’m also well aware that this kind of music is what will provide the big green. Who cares. It’s just about playing as much as you can. In my opinion if you’re playing 5 times a month, you’ve made it. Being a big fish in a small pond is much easier than being a big fish in a big pond. The industry is an ear soar.

Generally multi-language albums exist to appeal to and attract a wider market, was that the aim behind implementing French, English and Spanish into your debut effort?

I don’t think words like markets, industry or salary were even part of the equation in the recording of this album. I’m bilingual, and some of my favorite artists are French speaking. Jean Leloup, Francis Cabrel... I listen to as much French music as English. I knew that my mother and my family would appreciate a song or two in French, because we’re very proud to be Franco-Ontarian, even though we’re a dying breed. I sing in Spanish because I spent a lot of time in Colombia, and again... was influenced by their domestic music and wanted to integrate some of its flavor into my songs.

With the stigma that an artists music diversifies and grows as time logs on, peering into the review mirror where has your music seen significant progression or change from the past.

I suppose the more you play, the more confident you become in your craft. This confidence leads you to take chances and experiment with your sound and your style. I’ve been driven to write music with a message from the very start, and I still am. It’s just formulated differently now. My writing has become more fluid and less stagnant. I used to be that girl who writes and only writes folk ballads. I prefer a beat and a grove now... but who knows, maybe I’ll come full circle in the future and return to just me and my piano, or me and my guitar, but for now I’m really enjoying the big band, and the energy created from so many fingers playing together. It feels more like a celebration.

If at all, how has the small town upbringing added depth to your music?

A small town upbringing added depth to my music because it added depth to my person. Blind River is a town of 3,000 people, you practically know everybody. Whether they come from well off families or struggling families, whether they are Ojibwa or not.. it didn’t really seem to matter, we were all going to the same schools and drinking at the same local bar. I’ve often thought that being from a small town you are much more exposed to the suffering of others, because you can’t isolate yourself by joining or creating a certain group. There aren’t enough people. This lack of disconnection results in a real sense of community, which is why I enjoy being a musician, I feel part of a community. There’s a song on my album called Northern Souls, which is all about the juxtaposition of the North’s natural beauty, and the poverty and hopelessness of some of its people. Every-time I go home and reconnect with its unique nature, I feel inspired. That inspiration is what led to me to write songs in the first place.

In now calling Toronto home, curious how you see this arts scene favorable over the noise in Montreal?

I don’t call Toronto home, it’s just where I live right now. Northern Ontario is and will always be home. I’m sure there’s great music in Montreal, because it’s a beautiful city. There’s great music in Toronto too, because it’s a very unique metropolis. I don’t think there’s a hierarchy of good music scenes, good music is good music whether it’s around a campfire or at the Gladstone Hotel.

In regards to sound on this go, I chose to highlight the best of the lesser known at the upcoming Coachella lineup, unfortunately the lineup overall proves pretty weak this year, yet I found some treasure.

Alberta Cross - lucy rider
my favorite of the bunch. Definitely feels like driving out to Lake Louise, quite the vision for a band not even from the oil province, rather they call Brooklyn home (or maybe they don't, apologies Christianne).

Alberta Cross - the thief and the heartbreaker
more, more, more and myspace here. And see 'Low Man' (yes, physically they look a little too much like a Kings of Leon/Nickleback cross, but it’s the music that counts right?)

Ghostland Observatory - sad sad city
this ones for you brother, sadly I think they sound a little too much like a weak band from about five years ago in BC..'Hot Hot Heat' anyone(ouch)!

I Was A King - a name that hurts to say
maybe lulled in with other indie rock, but at least it erases time.

Jenny Lewis - fernando
reminds me of 'Wayne's World', when Cassandra is playing 'Ballroom Blitz'.
"like when we used to climb rope in gym class".

No Age - eraser
Obviously this Los Angeles act is receiving enough of a push right now, they don't need attention here, but its all about recognizing what deserves recognition.

Peter, Bjorn & John - nothing to worry about
okay, so we all know about this band, but I must pay respects for the willingness to shy in another direction after the big hit.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

No comments: