What are your roots?
My dad started drilling Joni Mitchell songs into my head as an infant. Our musical roots are so dependent on our parents, and Dad was big on the storytellers; Gordan Lightfoot, Stan Rogers, John Prine, and queen Joni. Fox family parties involved lots of instruments, Mooselights, (I’m a Saint Johner) and the first two verses of all our favourite songs. That circle was my first stage. Alternatively, my mom signed me up for theatre school when I was seven, and I was in plays and musicals every year until graduating university. Theatre holds a huge part of my heart still, and I don’t know who I would be without growing up valuing the art of play and self-expression learned through studying theatre.
Where do you currently reside?
I live in Fredericton, NB.
When and why did you start playing music?
I have books on books of songs I wrote as a kid. It’s funny how I can remember the tune to most of them. I took piano and voice lessons at the Royal Conservatory level but it wasn’t until I started playing guitar when I was eighteen that it all came together and I really started writing songs. I started mass producing playing vulgar joke songs to satisfy the small liberal arts school crowds at weekly open mics. The more I wrote, the better I got and the easier it came, and I ventured to writing about anything, things that mattered more to me, things I found funny or upsetting, and falling in love with the puzzle of being articulate and creative within a concise structure of a melody.
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
I still enjoy making people laugh, but I’ve learned that often the stuff that’s the funniest is the stuff that’s true, relatable, and hasn’t been pointed out yet, so my humour has become more subtle. I’ve grown to value the the musicianship more as I become a better player and strive to find innovative, or at the very least catchy, melodies to support my stories and poems.
What are the challenges involved with the vocation?
It’s a challenge to find a work-life balance. There is always a new song to write, an email to send, a show to promote, and making boundaries as to when to turn artist/entrepreneur off and partner/friend/family member on is essential and often very hard.
What are the rewards?
It’s rewarding when an audience member approaches me after a show and shares how they related to one of my songs. It’s rewarding to tour and see small towns and parts of Canada that I wouldn’t otherwise visit. It’s addicting to get into a flow with a song and with your band and create an energy exchange between music and a live audience.
How have you evolved as an artist over time?
You must evolve! Evolve or die. I have evolved in beginning to open my sound to the possibilities of other genres outside of folk. I’ve evolved because I’ve gotten better the more I tour and collaborate and I’ve become a stronger vocalist, player and thinker.
This year my career highlights include opening for Bahamas at Area506 in Saint John, and touring Newfoundland with Braden Lam.
What went into the new recording?
I recorded it with Dale Murray at his home studio in Port Howe, NS. I went up to stay with him and his wife Christina Martin for three weekends in the Summer of 2019. The band Jason Vautour and Jordi Comstock came down for one weekend to track the bulk of the record and we would work all day and play cards in the evening. It was a really wonderful experience.
Do you have a favourite track?
Cradle Me is my favourite track because it is so rich in colour and imagery. When I sing it, it’s like looking through a photo book of my tour of the West coast in 2019.
What has the response been like so far?
Great! I’ve been getting great feedback on my songs, vinyl are selling, and folks are coming out to shows. I’ve started getting a lot of avocado knick knacks from friends and fans - haha.
Is your creative process more "inspirational" or "perspirational"?
There are different ways it happens. Sometimes I get a great idea for a song concept, and maul it over and create from that. Other times its very intuitive and out of body and seems to happen by accident. I write a lot in my head while I’m driving, or something mundane like dishes, and then take it to the guitar or piano after the melody is thought out.
What makes a good song?
I am a lyric snob and respect a good story told in a concise and creative way. Alternatively, having a great, hooky chorus is also essential at times. Music serves many purposes, and a great song for its lyrics might lose its appeal in the face of a crowd hoping to dance.
What makes a good live show?
My favourite live shows are the ones where you can tell the audience is listening to the stories. There’s an exchange taking place when my band and I offer a slick groove, or I sing about something relatable, and the audience offers back their attention and their energy. I like the quiet, listening room crowds as much as I love the loud, crammed club crowd.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Atlantic Canadian music scene?
I think I have a false sense of knowing everyone and everyone knowing me. Social media probably lends to that, and the sense that the Atlantic Canadian music scene feels like our own entity apart from the rest of the country at times. As we pull ourselves out from being out of work for so long, great emerging acts are getting stronger and touring harder. This world is small, and we are all looking out for each other.
How can it be improved?
My hometown, Saint John, needs a music venue! New Brunswick artists are supported by great people, but not supported by many great venues. Venues took a sure-fire hit over the pandemic.
What's on your agenda for 2022?
I’m currently writing and rehearsing to record my next record, hopefully to begin recording in April, and releasing in the Fall. I’ll be touring Newfoundland again in June, and BC in July. I want everyone to see my hot hot band, and we’ll be making ourselves present around the Atlantic Canadian festival scene over the Summer.