Chromewaves | Arts & Crafts Canadian music groups Land of Talk (pictured)…
- Posted on Jun 15th 2011 11:00PM by Marsha Casselman
A workaholic, Powell learned the hard way from her vocal chord ailment in 2009 she needs to slow down once and a while. On the phone via Montreal before Land of Talk's June 17 NXNE performance at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square, Powell tells Spinner she's going through a transition. This period is for rest, gaining perspective and finally, perhaps, embracing adulthood.
It's been a few months since you finished touring last summer's critically acclaimed 'Cloak and Cipher.' Now what?
I'm actually on a hiatus. I'm going to hunker down in Montreal, maybe write some songs, and see what it feels like to be a human being in the same geographic spot for more than a couple months. It started at the beginning of Land of Talk and went full-on for four years. This has been a long time coming, a natural break, pause.
But you'll continue to write new songs?
Yeah, I can't help that, it just comes out of me. I've written a couple of dub songs, hip-hop song and a bluegrass one. But I'm not trying to put my energy towards anything specific. I'm trying to not try, if that makes any sense. At the end of the day, all I write about is what it's like to be a human being. If your always on tour and have your head down plowing through it, I'd be worried the songs would take a different tone. So I'm taking a break to see if I can soak in anything new.
So you are working on "soaking in" Montreal?
I moved here 12 years ago but I don't think I've 'lived' here for more than five when you put all the tours together. So I'm going to see what it feels like to be a Montrealer.
What does that entail?
Maybe I'll write some songs in French.
Oh, you are fluent in French?
It's funny, no, I mean I don't think I am ... but I collaborated and am friends with Karkwa. They invited me to do a benefit concert a couple weeks ago and they sang [the Land of Talk song] 'Quarry Hymns' with me and we did a song which has a bit of French in it. [Karkwa frontman] Louis-Jean [Cormier] kept asking me, "Why do you have just one verse of one song in French?" And I was like, "Well it took me like three years just to write one verse." He was like, "Just keep doing it." So maybe there will be a French album. That would be so cool, as long as I don't insult my Francophone friends.
Karkwa have mentioned singing in French-only can be isolating.
That's surprising because if you go to a Karkwa concert, all you're doing is pure feeling. Plus, I don't know half of what people are singing anyways, even bands I love: Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Julianna Barwick. It's not really the lyrics you're listing to, it's the confluence of all the musical elements and the energy. It's funny because we performed Karkwa's album in English on CBC [Radio] and I sang the songs translated by an English poet, translating the meaning instead of the actual language. I almost felt like a bit of an a--hole. These beautifully composed songs are perfectly amazing in French; it felt like I was hurting the music.
You've collaborated with some Montreal heavyweights over the years. Seems like a random appearance on Sam Roberts' latest album 'Collider' is all in a day's work for you.
I guess it's like a creature: The more I put into the the scene, the more I get out of it. The more open you are, the more willing people are to hang out and bang out some tracks with you ... And it's cool that it's not just one type of scene, like an art-rock scene. Like So Called just put out a new [hip-hop] album, Katie Moore has one of the most incredible alt-country voices, Suuns, and Snailhouse who will be joining us on our NXNE show. It's just cool how the scene is so diverse -- its not just one type of dream everyone's chasing -- and friendly, and we could all end up at each other's BBQs on any given night.
You've mentioned that constantly playing the bar scene can get a little stale.
I love variety. That's the best thing about the summer on tour: You can play smaller venues and then jump on tour with a bigger band playing big halls, then you play a festival. One of my favourite shows was on the last fall tour playing Salt Lake City. It was down an old back alley at what looked like an artists compound, all outdoors, but there was a skateboarders' half-pipe and maybe 40 kids could fit into this shed we played. Super dirty, super awesome. But then I'd also like to play [Toronto's] Massey Hall, and I'd love to play Coachella. Every show has the potential to be amazing. We might play the Paradiso in Amsterdam -- that would be my dream, but if I've already been on tour for a year straight and haven't had a shower or talked to my parents in a while then that completely takes over the experience. I guess what I'm saying is I'm just a super sensitive person.
Speaking of sensitive, you're now 31 years old. Has being 30-ish affected your perspective or lifestyle?
You know what, I was more deeply affected turning 31 [than 30]. Whatever it was, I'm going through it and I don't know how to articulate it ... I'm trying to figure out if turning 30 means something different when you've been touring. Not to diminish the experience of touring musicians [but] it can kind of get into this teenage mindset: Party party party, social social social. And I think a lot of priorities fall by the wayside. A lot of the things that prepare you for adulthood, I think I just missed.
So turning 30, I guess the number hit me because my mom had had two kids by that age, my parents had a dog and house. It's hard to figure out what this age represents to the rest of the world, and if I'm supposed to be that. I'm in limbo. Do I have to act 30 and what do I have to do to be 30 that's not going to completely blow my mind and make me feel like all of my 20s were a disservice because I wasn't preparing for being responsible. So, yes, I feel like I'm growing up really quickly right now. I didn't do it for 10 years and now all the sudden it's like those adolescent growth spurts where your legs grow like three inches overnight. This is more of a spiritual-based growth. I think I'm done growing physically, at least, I don't think I'll grow any taller [laughs].
Land of Talk play Yonge-Dundas Square on Friday, June 17 @ 8:30PM-9:10PM