Drawing on influences from old-time jazz standards, folk balladry and traditional country, Halifax's Jill Barber has become one of Canada's most distinctive young voices. The success of her critically-acclaimed 2004 EP, Oh Heart, brought her both accolades and awards from across the country and around the world. Barber has just released her long-anticipated sophomore album, For All Time. She spoke with Soul Shine's Stephen Clare this past week.
SS: What were some of the highlights of recording For All Time?
JB: Collaborating with other people after having spent the last couple of years playing on my own...and working with some of this country's finest musicians.
SS: What were some of the challenges?
JB: I sometimes found it challenging to capture an authentic performance in an isolated vocal booth. As a result we ended up recording much of the record live off the floor, in order to capture the energy of a live performance.
SS: What has initial response been like from family, friends, media, and the general public?
JB: Really positive. I have a lot of people rooting for me, and I'm very grateful for it.
SS: Is the creative process more one of inspiration or perspiration?
JB: I'd say the former. I'm a lazy sort of songwriter...not very disciplined. I usually wait for a song to come to me, and when it eventually does come my way, it usually comes pretty easily...I find if I labour over a song too much, it tends to sound kind of forced.
SS: What are your thoughts on the Canadian music industry?
JB: I think that the Canadian Music industry is extremely healthy. We have plenty of great acts representing the nation.
SS: What are your thoughts on Canadian music?
JB: I'm very patriotic when it comes to my taste in music... I think that most Canadian music is exceptionally good.
SS: In your opinion, has the internet helped or hurt the music industry, and in what ways?
JB: Ultimately I feel that the internet has helped the music industry÷it's an amazing tool for musicians. It all depends how it's used. It's undoubtedly caused some trouble for record labels, and I feel for the people in the industry whose jobs have been jeopardized by the advent of music downloading... However the "music industry", like any other "industry" is just a big game. At least it feels that way to me sometimes. Anybody who wants to stay in the game has got to be a brave player, and grow and change with the times.
SS: You have enjoyed great ECMA success ...how does it feel to be recognized by your peers in Atlantic Canada?JB: It feels great, and it reinforces my belief that it is possible to have a successful music career living in the east coast...and it endears me even more to my adopted home.
SS: What, if anything, have the ECMAs done for your career?
JB: They have certainly helped raise my profile regionally, and opened many doors for me... opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise received. For instance, a UK booking agent was in attendance at an ECMA industry showcase that I played last year, which resulted in a three and a half week tour of the UK and Ireland this past Fall.
SS: Why are they so important to the region, and to the country?
JB: I think it's important to pause to celebrate the incredible range of talent that exists on the east coast... and to show off to the rest of the country.
SS: What have been some of your more memorable ECMA experiences? JB: It was really great to take part in the Socan Songwriter's circle last year next to some real heavy-weight songwriters...that was a highlight... another highlight would be getting to go to St. John's back in 2004... I haven't yet had the chance to go back since then.
SS: What are your thoughts on the Maritime music scene in general?
JB: I think that this region has the richest musical diversity of anywhere in the country, if not the whole world. The Maritimes have always bred great musicians and creative people÷ I feel lucky to be considered a part of that scene.
SS: What are your thoughts on the Halifax/Dartmouth scene in particular? JB: There's so much amazing music created there, that's a given...but sadly there seems to be a shortage of great venues in which to play.... I'd also like to see more early and all-ages shows...live music needs to be more accessible to people with kids or those who work early in the morning. I think that there are a lot of people that want to support local music but who don't necessarily go in for the late-night bar scene.
SS: Who are your favourite east coast artists?
JB: Joel Plaskett has always been a fave... going back to my teens I was a huge Sloan fan, Hardship Post were also top of my list. These days I am listening a lot to Rose Cousins, David Myles, The Museum Pieces... I also think that Mardeen and Two Hours' Traffic are great bands.... oh, also the new Amelia Curran album is amazing...yeah, too many to name.
SS: Have you been writing new material?
JB: I've been coming up with lots of ideas for future projects, and coming
up with some new material.
SS: What's in the works for you over the coming months?
JB: Mostly just touring, and being a woman of the road and playing as much
as possible to support my new album.
For more information on Jill Barber please visit www.jillbarber.com.
Writer: Stephen Clare