SWAIN: You should listen to it

Back to Nan-town we go, and it's another great effort from Christopher Arruda.  SWAIN, is his latest works, a 7 song E.P. serving as a footnote of sorts to his debut full length.

I was lucky enough to chat with Arruda a while back, just before releasing this album.  He had mentioned how proud of it he was, and he had a lot of positive things to say about it.  Now I can see why.

The album starts with a tune called CJ Somers, and I really feel like this was the perfect song to start the album with.  Arruda and his vocals shine on this track.  It really feels bare to me, as though he is laying it all out in front of you right off the hop.  This is me, take it or leave it, and I love it.

As Arruda mentioned last time we spoke, there are no drums on the album, and it does move along at a slower pace.  I don't think this takes away from it in any way though.  It actually showcases the Nanaimo artist and his talents even more-so.  With smooth vocals ever present and some beautiful guitar and keys, this album is a thought provoking gem.

My favourite track is "We'd be good men".  Something about the guitar right off the hop really sucks me in, and there is something about this song that just strikes me as being so raw.

To be perfectly honest, the first time I played this album through, my reaction wasn't much more than "meh".  Maybe I was in a bad mood or something that day, because every time I play this album out now, I enjoy it more and more.  And if you have ever had the privilege of seeing Arruda live, you know the passion he brings with his music.  That passion is very evident on this record.

Arruda has had one hell of a year, and he doesn't seem to be slowing down.  With a second full length in the works as well as a move to a Canadian Metropolitan area, it looks like we are only going to see more from this talented singer/songwriter in the future (check out his new website to see what I'm talking about).

During this time of year, when the days are short and the skies are grey, this is the kind of album you need to get your thoughts going.  Lie back, close your eyes and push play.  SWAIN takes care of the rest.


Connecting with Jeremy Fisher

My latest addition to the Vinyl collection.  As luck would have it,
this was the very first Flood record Jeremy signed (Too bad I
didn't have a sharpie, and it was rainy and windy outdoors).
I think there are very few situations for a musician where forgetting the lyrics can go over well.  For the 50 plus people that packed themselves into the Spiral Cafe in Victoria on Monday night, they can all attest to witnessing this anomaly.

Jeremy Fisher played the first night of his Canadian Tour at the Craigflower Rd. coffee house to a sold out crowd.  It was a huge honour for Island SoapBox to sit down with the now Montreal-based artist before the show.  Arriving in Victoria to kick off his Canadian tour only 2 days after capping his American tour with Lights in Buffalo, NY.  Fisher was tired, but excited to be back on Native soil pushing his new album Flood, in an ever changing industry.

"It feels good to get it out you know, it's been a couple years since my last record.  It was a long time in the making and I did a whole bunch of other things while I was making the record.  So it definitely feels good to have it out.  At the same time it’s a daunting task to get out and tour and promote it.  So I'm tired but I'm happy.

It's different releasing a record now than it was three years ago. Very different.  I mean there are no stores anymore that sell records. Most people don't buy CD's.  It's a much quieter sort of affair. But I don't mind that.  I kind of like music to leak out there and you know find its way.  It's not a huge amount of pressure on release day and I kinda like that, but at the same time, the excitement of it being in the record stores, and it being a real thing out there in the real world, like a physical item.  I miss that aspect cause I grew up with it.  There's a part of me that feels a little bit sad that that's not the way it is, but everything changes."

For fans of the two-time Juno nominee, one of the more exciting things about this last record was the fact that Fisher worked with producer Hawksley Workman for the second consecutive album.  After thoroughly enjoying the process the first time around, the two were equally excited when their schedules synced up, and recording Flood together was possible.  For Jeremy, the quality of work that Workman brings, has been a real motivator.

"It's definitely important. One of the reasons I like working with him is I respect his abilities as a songwriter, performer, player.  You know when I'm working with him, and I'm in the studio with him, it makes me want to try and be that good.  Be the best I can at whatever I'm doing at that moment, so that's probably the best part of it (working with Workman)."

There is a definite vibe around Fisher throughout the entire night.  He carries himself with a very calm demeanor, answering questions thoughtfully and openly.  He also has a ton of charm.  Telling stories of picking food from dumpsters, and forgetting his lyrics during parts of his set (fans sung the lyrics to him so he could pick himself back up), these were things that actually made the show more enjoyable.  Not to mention the man can flat out play, and his voice filled the room amazingly.  It's a very human connection with Fisher, and it's clear that fans eat that sort of thing up.

Connecting with fans on a personal level is just how Fisher gets down.  From telling the Cafe a story of his manager actually walking out of his own show (due to a not-so-charming lyrical issue), to creating his own music videos, these are just different ways he shares.  Although creating a video and writing a song may sound entirely different, Fisher says the inspiration comes from the same place.

"The way it feels to get a song idea, or a video idea, the idea to rearrange the furniture in your living room, it's the same feeling. It's just the feeling of making something new.  Taking what you already have, and going out in the world and taking pieces of experiences and distilling them into art.  Technology has come so far in the last few years, now a total hack like me can make his own videos.  It was something that I always wanted to do.  All of a sudden it became available to me, so now I'm doing it."

One of the many side projects fans loved in the past year was the Malahat Revue.  The Canadian Super group (consisting of Aidan Knight, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas & Fisher), toured over 500 West Coast KM on bicycles, playing to packed houses throughout Southern BC, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  Fans couldn't be the only ones that really enjoyed it, as Fisher told me there would be exciting news regarding another Malahat Revue tour coming sometime in the New Year!

As the 10 year vet worked through his set, fans mostly nodded along, a few singing under their breathe, but everyone was smiling in the intimate setting.  Fisher was having fun, and it spread through the Spiral Cafe like Wildfire.  The ability to laugh at himself and roll with the punches saved him from time to time, and most certainly added to the experience for most.  For a guy who has been at it for over a decade with ever-growing success, it's still that basic love of music that keeps him going.

"Sometimes I'm very aware of the fact that I do it as a job.  You know and that's really weird.  It's a weird thought to have when you're up there.  The key is to never really let it feel like a job in the way a job can feel mundane day after day, night after night or whatever it is. 

I think the main reason I do it is just because I love the feeling of playing the guitar in particular, singing and especially performing."

The love and enthusiasm he shows for music is evident both in the interview and especially on stage.  Jeremy Fisher has plenty of tour dates left as he makes his way across the country (Miss Emily Brown is opening for him, and she is awesome!).  It was an incredible experience to be able to sit down with the talented musician, and one I won't forget.  The even better part though, it doesn't take media credentials or interviews to connect with Fisher.  You are part of the conversation the minute you become a fan, and it's that connection that makes this Canadian talent as loved as he is.


Lyme Aid 5 a great night out

Well I know it was a few days ago now, but I'm on Island Time here :) Victoria Events Centre was the stage for a great fundraiser helping support Jean-Luc Giroux, a Victoria local, and his battle with Lyme Disease. The bands and the venue were both fantastic, and it was a night that did not disappoint.

Ellisa Hartman started off the night with her super catchy tune "Smitten". It was a good crowd right from the get go, and Hartman made everyone realize in a hurry they had made a great choice for their night out. It was good to see her play, as the day before I helped Cyler Parent out on a photo shoot with Ellisa. She was just playing a few songs for the camera, but she was so awesome that I couldn't wait for the show! She is a great act to get out and see, and a fantastic way to start the night.

Next up was Christopher Arruda. I was extremely excited to see the man play live, and he exceeded my expectations in a big way. He played his keyboard the same way a mad scientist would concoct some sort of test tube Armageddon. He really commands attention and has a great voice. The show was only half over and I think we were ready to call it a winner.

Here is a surprise, Steph Macpherson was on the bill (We just can't seem to get enough of her!).  Katie Schaan and Vince Vaccaro accompanied her on stage, as well as Flugelhorn (I most certainly had to ask what type of horn it was) player known simply as Olivier.  It was yet another fantastic performance. I don't know what to say any more to be honest. Schaan and Macpherson were absolutely brilliant throughout the set, and Vaccaro added that perfect touch. It was the set of the night for sure.

A 50/50 winner was announced before Lindsay Bryan closed the evening with her set. In the true spirit of the fundraiser, the winner of the $58 dollars was kind enough to donate it back to the cause. A class act.

It was my first time really hearing about Lindsay Bryan. She has a great voice, and she had some great support on stage. She was funny and dropped a few F-bombs, which I always find humourous. I would have liked to see Lindsay play somewhere else in the line-up. Not to take anything away from the Victoria talent, but after a set like Macpherson's, you could really see the experience gap in Bryan's. Definitely a raw talent to keep an eye on.

It was obviously a very successful event. It showcased a lot of local talent, and raised some funds for a good cause. Another shining Example of local music doing good in the community.

100 Blows... It's a good thing

I gotta be honest, I'm getting spoiled over here with people sending me music.  This latest gem showed up in the mailbox a couple weeks back.  Vancouver's Henry and the Nightcrawlers are responsible for 100 Blows, their debut full length.  I have one word for it. Fun.

The group is led by Henry Alcock-White, who wrote and produced the album.  There is something unique about his voice that really adds to the fun of the album.  It engaged me immediately, and really struck me with a sense of wonder.  It's another case of music that I would not have listened to on my own, but am I ever glad that I did.

I keep thinking I have a favourite song on the album, but it changes every time I listen through.  It's a 9 song effort (plus an "edit" version of On a Week Night, making 10 total), and it's another listen that won't tempt that "skip" finger.  Right now, my favourite tune has got to be Fan the Flames.  I love the bass groove off the top, and singing along with the chorus makes me a highway rockstar.

This has got to be one of my favourites of the year.  It really does zoom by, and intrigues me as to what the group will get up to next.  They are currently on tour and have the big Record Release party scheduled in Vancouver on Saturday November 27th, at the Billy Bishop Legion Hall.  Picking this album up won't disappoint, and if you are in Van City on the 27th, the party would be a dynamite place to grab it.


Island SoapBox recommends Katie Schaan and her album "Close to Me"

Island SoapBox was lucky enough to sit down with the talented Victoria musician just last month, and with her album release just around the corner, it's a great time for more recommended listening.

Close to Me is the name of Katie Schaan's debut album.  Admittedly it's a more "Poppy" spin than I usually go for, but Schaan's talent pulls me right in.  Her voice is smooth, and the music behind her changes quite a bit keeping you interested.  I'm not sure what it is, but I think her voice would lend itself to Jazz quite nicely (that's my random one-off).

One of my favourite things about the album is it hooked me from the first note of the first song "You".  It's amazing what that first impression can do for you, it really sets your mood and expectations in a hurry.  The way her voice sounds, along with the first riff instantly put me in a great mood with positive expectations.

I think it's a dynamite debut effort.  The album shows a great range in the Vancouver Island Singer/Songwriter talents, that at the very least will create an interest to see her live show. She has a tour starting up soon in support of the 9 song effort.  With her charming personality as well, I imagine these will move nicely for her.

Making music is what Katie loves to do, and doing it for herself is her absolute passion.  It's an exciting time for both Katie and her growing fan base, and there's no reason to think this isn't the first of many Katie Schaan album recommendations.

**Island SoapBox looking to hear from you.  I'm wondering if you like the album recommendations? Do you find them helpful? Or perhaps you would like to comment on something else?  Essentially with the Album Recommendations I'm hoping to generate an interest and that you will go check it out!  So basically I'm asking, is it working? :) Comment below or feel free to email me. Thanks all


Island SoapBox Movember

Ok, so I've figured out how Island SoapBox will participate in Movember, and in true West Coast fashion, I'm announcing this November 5 :)

It's really quite simple.  For every follower Island SoapBox gains on Twitter this month (Also all comments below will garner donation), $0.25 will be donated to Movember.  Where I need your help is sending in suggestions and pictures for who the money should be spilt up amongst!  Send in your favourite staches and I'll get them up on the blog.

As of November 1, there were 618 Followers, so that's the number we'll consider 0 :)  As of November 14, 644! Thanks everybody!

Feel free to post links to your own personal Movember pages at the bottom.  This should be lots of fun, thanks for participating guys!