Friday, 12 May 2017

Interview: Jenn Grant

Jenn Grant Interview Paradise
Photo: Daniel Ledwell

Jenn Grant - Galaxies

Info: 'Paradise' is the follow up to 2014's 'Compostela' which earned Grant two Juno nominations in her native Canada - for both Songwriter as well as Contemporary Album of the Year. Grant and husband, producer Daniel Ledwell, took a year in their home studio to craft 'Paradise'. 'Compostela', was written after the loss of her mother and whereas that record was "of the stars" and based on her own personal experience of loss, 'Paradise' points the compass towards the epic and intimate. It marks her most adventurous and deliberate work she's ever done.

Hailing from Nova Scotia, Canada, Jenn Grant is an established contemporary folk-pop act in her home country, with new album Paradise set to earn her new fans from further afield, complimented by tour dates in England, Scotland and three Irish dates commencing on the 23rd of May (details below). The album's opening title-track is immediately attention-grabbing, melding folk guitar with a pleasing ambient soundscape, initially not a million miles away from the quieter moments on Massive Attack's Mezzanine in terms of sound.

Latest single, 'Galaxies', opens with a lovely rolling keyboard progression, it's defiantly a contemporaneous pop track, interestingly the verses lead very nicely into the chorus, and provide the perfect balance to push them forward, and as the track progresses it veers more into euphoric alt-pop territory, across the board it's a well executed and structured piece of song-writing. The rest of Paradise sways between authentic-sounding country-folk such as 'Lion With Me', and beautifully airy sounds and tones like those found on 'Hero' and 'Legacy', as well as the soulful strength of 'Dogfight'.

Jenn Grant - Paradise

Ahead of Grant's three Irish dates in Belfast (Black Box, 23rd May), Dublin (Whelan's, 24th) and Galway (The Black Gate, 25th), we chat about the passage of time between her debut album Orchestra for the Moon (2007) and Paradise, latest single 'Galaxies', and her return to Ireland.

Remy: It's almost exactly 10 years since the release of your debut album Orchestra for the Moon, and since then you've released an additional 5 albums, an impressively consistent output. What do you consider to be the most noticeable shift (if any) in your sound since then up until your new album 'Paradise'?

Jenn: When I look back on my first album, it's like looking back to an old friend. I think it was a good first attempt and I had some great people around me (the heavy blinkers) but I was young and not fully aware of my own voice or what sounds I would really grow into. With each album I feel I've delved a little deeper. Whether it is more into a folk world like in Compostela or with the new sounds of a more electronic, r n b, and still sometimes folk Paradise. The colours of music are darker to me now, more vast, with ten years under them. 

Remy: From your perspective, do you feel that music critics / reviewers have become lazy when it comes to describing the particular genre you operate within, there seems to be a default position of describing everyone as being 'for fans of' Cat Power / Laura Marling / Florence & The Machine? (Agree / disagree?!!)

Jenn: I really like all those artists and would be happy to collide into that shoebox. I've never really tried to fit or fit into any one genre but after a decade that's now maybe becoming my thing and I'm happy with that. 

Remy: You've previously cited the influence and inspiration of your late mother on your music, tastefully captured in the video for your 2012 single 'The Fighter', do you find that source of motivation evolves differently over time?

Jenn: I think that my connection to mother evolves as we are physically separated, and that she continues to be a constant source of strength and inspiration. 

Remy: 'Galaxies', the lead single from Paradise has received widespread international airplay and a very positive critical reception, deservedly so, can you share some insights into both the track and accompanying video?

Jenn: On this song I went to some outer world places to feel the inspiration, and found a far away connection to home. Home is something I don't take for granted and that is sometimes just a little off in the distance. so I went to outer space or to the stars to make that feeling happen in a bigger way. 

The video was directed by Adam Goldhammer who leans to the sci-fi realm in his films and is a collaborator of my brother, Daniel Grant, the cinematographer. This was an amazing opportunity for me to work with my brother who I completely adore and respect. He's got an amazing sense of light and a special sense of me, and they created an beautiful story that now feels was birthed in the song. 

Remy: From a personal perspective, I think that Irish music fans find Canadian contemporary folk so relatable as much of its inspiration is drawn from the landscape, has that been an influence on your own music?

Jenn: Absolutely. I've been very motivated by landscape since I began writing as a child. On Paradise, the song 'Working Girl', is inspired by a sacred Irish landscape that I know. Ireland has become an important place to me and to my creative journey. 

Remy: It's three years since your last live performance at Whelan's in Dublin, what are you most looking forward to from your return visit?!

Jenn: I've got Daniel Ledwell, my producer and husband with me, and my drummer Mike Belyea. They are playing the parts of several people each, while making it look easy, and allowing me to be really free with the songs. I'm also excited to have Hannah Georgas with us. She's a good friend and I am also a downright fan for years. I'm so happy to return to show off Dublin and Whelans to these guys.

Remy: Once the current international tour is completed, what is next on the Jenn Grant horizon?

Jenn: More shows, more planning of more shows, and swimming with my dogs in between.

Tickets for Jenn Grant's three upcoming Irish dates are available at the below links;

Tuesday, 23rd May, Black Box, Belfast - Click here.

Wednesday, 24th May, Whelan's, Dublin - Click here.

Thursday, 25th May, The Black Gate Cultural Centre, Galway - Click here.

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