Interview – Kathleen Edwards

Interview – Kathleen Edwards

KE-528a

In the 12 years since her debut release, Canadian singer/songwriter, Kathleen Edwards, has been riding a wave of critical acclaim whilst never quite finding the mainstream success many feel she’s worthy of. With three fine albums under her belt and a fourth due in January 2012, Kathleen is currently back on the road opening for Bon Iver. Brum Live’s Steve Gerrard caught up with her backstage at the Manchester Apollo for a chat.

BL:
Hi Kathleen. What state of mind are you in at the moment?

KE:
I’m in a really good state of mind today. I’m excited to be on tour. I did some shows opening for Bon Iver in September and I think I had a lot on my mind, I was juggling a lot, and this time around I feel so much lighter and happier to play every day.

BL:
Is that because at that point the album was still in progress and now it’s ready?

KE:
I think that’s part of it, for sure. I think it’s that people are hearing the record now. We finished it in June but we were being really careful and keeping it very close to us.

KE-508

BL:
I heard something about you finding out about somebody having the album on their computer and you didn’t know how they had it…?

KE:
Oh yeah! It’s a totally hilarious story. I was in my hotel room in California and I opened up my iTunes to listen to while I was getting ready and somebody’s shared library comes up and I’m like “Oh cool” and I click on it and I’m looking through and thinking he’s got some cool stuff and then I’m like “Oh, he’s got me!” And I look and I’m like “I wonder what record he has” and he had my new record and he had the album cover art and I’m thinking “Oh my god! Who’s this guy?!” and that somebody had illegally downloaded the record. And then I got in the car with my label guy and we were driving and I said “The weirdest thing happened…” and he said “Oh, that’s my shared folder” and I’m like “Ahhh, ok”.

But it definitely feels so much better now, knowing that people are hearing the record, even though it’s not out til January. It’s better talking to people and they’re saying “Oh, I’ve heard the record” and the vibe has been really positive. It feels a little reassuring. You put everything into this project, and it was years coming together, and then it’s done and it’s like you’re in an airplane in a holding pattern over the airport and all you wanna do is get your feet back on the ground. It’s great knowing that people are now hearing it and it’s a relief that I feel like I just landed back on the tarmac, which feels good.

BL:
It’s been about three and a half years since Asking For Flowers. Does it feel like a long time to you? Are you ready to go through the whole process again?

KE:
Yeah. And also the material to me feels very different. There are songs of mine that I’m playing at these shows, and I’m not playing all new songs, but it’s sometimes hard to go back into your old catalogue when you have all these new songs done and you wanna play them, but you don’t wanna play them all.

KE-140

BL:
The thing about these shows is that they all sold out really fast on the strength of Bon Iver so a lot of these people are probably unaware of who Kathleen Edwards is, so they’re not here to hear their favourite songs of yours. Does that mean that you can play whatever you feel like playing on the night?

KE:
Yeah, and it also feels like a challenge but in a good way, because you go out every night and it’s like I’m here to win these people over and I’m not playing to people who are here to hear me. There’s something fun and challenging about that.

BL:
Are these the biggest shows you’ve played in the UK?

KE:
Yeah and I’m over the moon about it. Bon Iver’s fans are people who love music and are really open and receptive to things.

BL:
Some of your music is far more on the rock side of things. Do you tailor your set because you know Bon Iver fans might be more into your mellower songs?

KE:
Well his live show is pretty big right now. It gets pretty full on and loud and so I don’t feel that tentative. I think I always think about who I’m opening for though. I’ve opened for John Prine and I’ll sing lots of my narrative, singer/songwriter stuff but tonight I get to play songs like Goodnight, California, which, as an opener, I’d never think that’d be a song I’d play, but it is very appropriate for this.

KE-134

BL:
So when you think back over your career, what are the moments you remember where you think, “Wow, I can’t believe I got to do that”? Do you have many highlights?

KE:
I’ve taken so much time off that I sort of forget that I spent almost ten years touring and doing all this fun, crazy shit. Like last night we were on the bus with a lot of the guys in Bon Iver and we were talking about Bob Dylan, and Matt McCaughan, the drummer, says “Everyone knows that you can totally hear the influence of Willie Nelson on Bob Dylan” and I just said “Yeah, that makes sense. I toured with Willie” and he just looks at me in shock. And here’s a band doing so brilliantly well at the moment, but I’m like “Oh yeah, I’ve done some really cool shit, like I’ve sung with Willie Nelson. That’s amazing”.

I got to do that show where the Stones and AC/DC were on the bill. Even getting to play venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco. I wouldn’t say there’s one particular highlight but getting to a point in your career where you have the phone number and consider yourself a friend of one of The Heartbreakers and I get to watch Tom Petty from the side of the stage…. I’m like “I’m so proud of myself!” (laughs)

BL:
It’s funny you bring up Tom Petty actually. I wanted to ask if there was one artist you could tour with where you really think you’d expand your audience, who do you think that would be?

KE:
I think opening for a legend, you do it because it’s a reward for you, but it’s not really an opportunity. I opened for Dylan once and I was thrilled to do it but you could tell the crowd were thinking “21 minutes ‘til she’s over” and that’s just part of the deal. It’s how you cut your teeth and figure out how to play for people.

KE-521

BL:
But is there any crowd you think would give you the time and it’d be a great place to show what you do?

KE:
I mean, Neil Young should definitely call me! There’s no doubt that should happen. (laughs)

Kathleen’s new album, Voyageur, is released on 16th January 2012. It’s preceded by the new single, Sidecar, in November. She plays Birmingham Academy with Bon Iver on November 9th and returns for a headline gig at The Glee Club at the end of February.

Words & photos – Steve Gerrard

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply


George Ezra @ Resort World Arena, 17 March 2019

An array of generations pooled around the Resort World gates, anxiously chattering away before the opening of the arena doors. […]

The World of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration in Birmingham

Legendary composer Hans Zimmer has announced a spectacular new tour, ‘The World of Hans Zimmer’,  which reaches Birmingham next Thursday […]

Album Review – The Very Best of Newton Faulkner….So Far

Sit back, relax and immerse yourself with this best of album, which is as relaxing as a candlit bath. Newton […]

Larkin Poe @ The Glee Club- 11th March 2019

Boasting 15 years as a music venue The Glee Club has opened its doors to an intriguing sister duo from […]

Blood Youth @ Mama Roux’s – 7th March 2019

With the smell of nearby Digbeth Dining Club creeping in through the doors, Birmingham based openers Overthrone took to the […]

Marsicans

Fast rising indie pop rock quartet Marsicans are no strangers to our Birmingham Live readers. We stumbled on the band […]