Musicians Jessica Rhaye and Dennis Ellsworth have been touring the Maritimes together each celebrating the release of a new album.
The Rhaye/Ellsworth tour will arrive at The Carleton in Halifax Wednesday night; in a couple weeks it will travel to The Guild in Charlottetown. Arts East caught up with the two Atlantic Canadian songwriters in anticipation for this week’s show and upcoming collaborative performances.
Yesterday we posted our interview with Ellsworth.
Today we hear from Rhaye, whose musical career has taken her to stages around the world, from the Francophone Games in Niger and the Winter Olympics in Vancouver to shows for Prince Charles and the Mariposa Folk Festival!
What inspired you to start making music?
JR: Music has always been a part of my life. I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t singing or making up my own melodies and lyrics. I played the ukulele in elementary school and then moved on to the guitar in my teens. I was inspired by folk music at a young age. Songs such as “Blowing in the Wind”, “Four Strong Winds”, and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” were a few of my favourite songs my Mother taught me to sing and play on guitar.
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
JR: I write and sing music today because I really just enjoy doing it. It’s not something that I need to be inspired to do so much as it is simply enjoyment.
What makes a good song?
JR: Music is art so it’s a matter of opinion really. Someone can love a song or style of music while another person might not like it at all…In my opinion, the best songs are the ones that are simple, and have a catchy melody that either move people to feel an emotion or physically. A good song is one that people can relate or make a personal connection to.
Is your creative process more 'inspirational' or 'perspirational'?
JR: It can be both. Most of my writing stems from inspiration. I get in a creative mood and just let my emotions flow onto paper and my guitar. However, when it’s time to start getting down to business and prepare for an album, I can push myself to write which can sometimes feel less relaxed.
What went in to Far Gone Lullabies, the new recording?
JR: A lot of different people’s talents went into the recording of my new album Far Gone Lullabies. I spent a great deal of time writing and co-writing and when we got down to recording we had a bunch of people lend their talents, from Gordie Sampson, the Saint John String Quartet, Ron Sexsmith, Royal Wood and others who played or sang on the project.
What were the challenges of the process?
JR: I have two small children, so juggling time schedules and meeting tight deadlines was a little challenging during the recording and of course coordinating the release schedule has been more difficult than in the past.
What were the rewards?
JR: I think completing a recording that I’m proud of from start to finish.
What did you learn from the process?
JR: I learned that I can let go and not have to worry so much about every little detail and can allow the people who I’m working with to shine through doing what they do.
How did you feel when it was done?
JR: I felt a great sense of accomplishment. The project took a bit more time than recordings I’ve done in the past but only from an overall time frame perspective. If I actually compared how much time it took to make Far Gone Lullabies, it was really a quick process, because we didn’t spend a great deal of time worrying about the process, as I might have done in the past. So when it was done it felt great and ready to show to the world.
Do you have a favourite track?
JR: Each track has its own meaning and of course is very special to me but I’d have to say I really enjoy playing “You Know Me Better”, “Little Folk Song” and “We’ll Get By” live, so they might move to the front of the pack for me.
What has the response been like so far from those that have heard it?
JR: So far anybody who has heard or reviewed the album has had great things to say. The reviews have been very positive, which is always a relief, because you never want to come out of the gate swinging with a new album only to get negative feedback. People and reviewers seem to genuinely be enjoying the album.
How will you promote and market it?
JR: I’ll be rolling the new album out on a region-by-region basis. Right now I’m promoting and working it in the Maritimes by doing some live dates and generating press and reviews in local media around the dates. If the response is strong we will than roll it out to other regions across Canada and hopefully other countries. We have produced a series of videos for many of the songs. There are five complete so far and they will be on my website over the coming months. Videos seem to really connect with people when they are looking to discover new music.
What's on tap for you for the rest of 2013?
JR: I have a series of shows lined up until the end of October in the Maritime region and once they are finished I’ll assess the impact and success of the release in the area as I look to expand my outreach and work on more live dates in different regions of the country in the new year.
Upcoming Shows featuring Jessica Rhaye and Dennis Ellsworth:
Wednesday, October 30 • The Carleton, Halifax • 8pm
Saturday, November 16 • The Guild, Charlottetown • 8pm
For more information, visit:www.DennisEllsworth.com