Where am I from / What is my band’s name origin /What ?
I’m half American and half Canadian. I’ve been living in Europe for the last 8 years studying, performing and recording. I went to Europe for university. I just completed my PhD, in Creative Writing, during which I composed much of my recent Van Wild material, in addition to plays and films that incorporated this music. I’m a transmedia artist—all my work is interconnected. Music is always the core of all that I write, however. I begin with a song and then construct the narratives for the plays or films around these. I develop characters through song.
Van Wild is a variation of Van Wilt. It represents a kind of Bacchalian, Dionysian wildness that is rooted in the Van Wild project. I am always striving for immediacy, to capture a raw sense of liveness and danger in my work. I’ve taken this a step further in Van Wild.
Van Wild technically isn’t really a band, though. It’s a singer-songwriter project that explores alternate historical narratives and contemporary social issues. Sometimes I perform solo, sometimes I perform with an incredible backing band. The project fuses blues-rock with folk and soul. The structure of the narratives is predominantly folk, although the architecture of the songs, particularly the hooks, are pop. The tone, narrative structure and motifs are blues, predominantly. I’ve been composing and writing songs most of my life. I’m also a writer, actress and performance artist. For the last fifteen years, I’ve been writing plays and performance pieces for which my music is the score; the first five albums of the Van Wild project I wrote, predominately, over the last 5 years. I’m not necessarily inspired by any artists. I admire the singer-songwriters of the Civil Rights era, their conviction and dedication to narrative and social activism. The artists I admire most are Neil Young, Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, Blind WT, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry…Neil Young and Pete Seeger are my compases…when I question how to attack a social issue in my music and work…without making it didactic, I look to them. I don’t have any answers, and I know I don’t. I appreciate the way they interrogate topics from the heart–
If you could speak to a young person that was considering pursuing a career in music like your group, what advice would you give them?
Study, Rehearse, Invest, Make A Bloody Good Product & Live Show, Protect Your Rights –And Repeat. Make sure you work as hard as you possibly can on craft and be business-savvy. Make sure you understand how the business works.
The most recent recordings feature Dominic John Davis and Daru Jones of Jack White’s band, Kurt Ozan of Jana Kramer’s band and Matt Gordon of 1092 Studios. They’re a really talented group of musicians, and they’ve done a marvellous job on the records. They had a very immediate and instant understanding of the songs, and I really look forward to doing more recording and performing live.
Where Have You Performed:
I’ve enjoyed performing at all the venues to which I’ve been invited; Stockholm ranks amongst my most favorite cities to perform. I had a great gig at the Amazura in NYC opening for Adrenaline Mob & Bumblefoot of GNR. I’m presently prepping to tour. This year and the coming year will take me to Canada and Europe in addition to a number of American cities. I’m really looking forward to hitting the road and meeting the beautiful people who come to the shows.
The next album tells an alternate historical narrative of North America. It speaks to a woman’s perspective, a gay perspective, of the development of a kind of North American identity. It definitely originates in my own confusion, my own attempt to understand what it means to be both Canadian and American…what this lens on the human experience means, for better and worse…
Fundamentally, I’m just trying to bring together blues tones, folk narratives and gospel choruses. Sometimes the blues elements cross into rock, and sometimes they cross into country. I’ve lived in a lot of places, I have very varied influences, so this project, from one album to the next can be either very Alternative or Indie…and it can be Blues Rock…And then Indie-Blues….I’m trying to follow my instincts and not question how neatly I need to fit into an easily-definable zone. We are constantly evolving; the artists I admire went through drastic changes during their careers. I hope to be able to do this long enough to see many bends and breaks in the structure and form of my work.
In the new album, however, I’ve also attempted to play with the presentation and structure of the material quite significantly:
I’ve experimented with linear and non-linear narratives and have made the storyline multi-vocal. What I mean is that you can listen to the songs in different orders to get a very different sense of narrative. I’ve written the material so that it can be listened to actively or passively. You can be as involved in the narrative as you like…I don’t want the album to be “work” to listen to.
I’m driven by the desire to engage in social issues…this is at the root of everything.
Where can we find Van Wild: