This edition of Call and Response features an interview with Bryce Jardine, an up-and-coming Canadian singer-songwriter with a talent for making solid, polished roots rock. His new album, The Kids Are Gone, is streaming on his website for free, and it’s worth a listen. It’ll be released for download September 7th. The album is a labor of love, and it shows, with solid production and guest talent such as Serena Ryder (of whom I am a huge fan) and members of the excellent City of Colour. The highlight of the album is easily “Better Half”, with its solid lyricism and unabashed roots-rock feel. In an era when most indie artists focus on synthesizers and drum loops, Jardine takes great care to make his album with real instruments and real vocals, and the arrangement is noticeably tangible. While there’s certainly room for him to grow as an artist from this album, I’d say the raw potential of this album indicates some really cool music ahead for listeners who appreciate roots rock, country, and, well, Canadian Americana (ha).
1. What was it like working with Serena Ryder, and how did that collaboration come about?
Serena is a pro. She came in, invented the hook off the top of “The Kids Are Gone” and nailed her parts in about 2 hours. She also appears on “Better Half.” We had met briefly at the Dakota Tavern, here in Toronto, before the session. My producer Derek Downham set the whole thing up as he plays drums in her backing band The Beauties. It all went down very quickly, I thanked her and that was that.
2. Your website notes that you were in a band before you decided to go solo. What band and why the switch?
I was in a heavy rock n roll act. I left for various reasons, but mostly to make the type of music I had grown up listening to. I love heavy music and always will but for now I feel most comfortable in a solo singer/songwriter role. It feels honest.
3. Who are the biggest influences on you as a musician, and as a person, and why?
My earliest influence was Neil Young, specifically his record Harvest Moon. That record was the soundtrack of my childhood and I still do this day listen to it all the time.
Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Iggy Pop are just a few of my other influences. They all are writers, and complete individuals. I like songs that carry ideas. I like songs that take risks. I like songs that are timeless. All of these artists have helped me find my own voice and my own path.
4. What are your favorite songs of all time?
My favorite songs change all the time, and I would feel like I am leaving things out being too specific. Arcade Fire, Antony And The Johnsons and Springsteen are on my ipod all the time right now.
5. Why did you choose Derek Downham to produce your record, and what was the process like working with him?
I met Derek online. I sent him my demos I had and he responded quite enthusiastically. We spent time hammering out arrangements in pre-production then hit the studio for six days. It wasn’t until I saw him work in the studio that I became aware of just how fortunate I had been to find him. Derek is one of the most musically gifted people I have ever met. We worked on a shoestring budget. The experience was fast and intense but after all was said and done I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
6. What is the music scene in Toronto like, and how do you think it’s different, if at all, from an American music scene of a similar size?
Toronto’s music scene is vast but if you narrow down what bars specialize in your kind of tunes, the communities there can be quite tight knit. For instance I am going to be playing a pub called The Cameron House every Tuesday in June and it’s basically a one-stop-shop for singer/songwriters. I couldn’t begin to compare the Toronto scene to anything else simply because thus far I haven’t cut my teeth in the States yet. That will change within the next year or two.
7. As an independent artist, what is your goal for the near future with this record?
I want to use my debut as a ticket to go out on the road and be the workhorse and performing troubadour I know I can be. I would like to spend most of next year on the road playing clubs and winning people over throughout North America. I do not dream of over night success and in the short term I see success as just being out there doing it.
8. All your upcoming gigs are in Toronto–any plans to tour a wider area in the future?
I am starting with an Ontario tour in September to coincide with the release. From there the plan is to go national then international. Much of my business is D.I.Y right now, and with only so many hours in a day it can take time for negotiations to unfold.
9. How did the collaboration with member(s) of City and Colour come to be?
Aaron Goldstein, pedal steel player for City And Colour came to be through Derek. Derek likes to joke that he is the Kevin Bacon of the Canadian music industry. I believe Aaron has done session work with Derek before. Aaron was super friendly and put his passes down on the fly.
10. If you could pick one song off this LP to get huge, which song would it be and why?
I would love to see Better Half do something on NPR and CBC. That song is a tribute to my folks and is a tune I have a strong emotional connection with. Serena’s voice kills me on that track and I think the arrangement and production all came together seamlessly. That being said, I think I’d still pick it for a third single behind “The Kids Are Gone” and “Death In Life.” Stream em all on brycejardine.com folks!
Check him out here: