Articles Tagged ‘music’

OUTSIDE VOICE: Courtney Act rises from the spotlight’s mean glare to the front lines for acceptance

The road to self-acceptance is a struggle within many communities. It can be a quiet path or a sensational journey across the planet. Sometimes, it takes enough time to find a place in the world you’re already in.

Pop singer and Drag Gender-queer performer Courtney Act finds self-love with the song "Mean Gays"  Photo Credit : Magnus Hastings

Courtney Act finds self-love with the song “Mean Gays” Photo Credit : Magnus Hastings

Pop songwriter and drag performer Shane Jenek/Courtney Act was already a continental superstar back home in Australia. After auditioning in drag and ending up a semi-finalist on Australian Idol in 2003, Courtney Act (can you say ‘caught in the act’ with an Australian accent?) and her dance-pop singles landed a Sony recording contract with her top 40, tours with Lady Gaga, TV appearances. The readers of FHM Magazine even named her one of the “100 Sexiest Women in the World.”

Moving to West Hollywood in 2010 to further her career, Courtney Act was named Second Runner-Up on Season 6 of the wildly-popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and is now riding a wave of fame this summer. She is the first drag performer to sing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, extended the run of her one-woman show “Boys Like Me”, and headlines in clubs and international festivals, including Ottawa’s Capital Pride this weekend.

Q. I’ve been listening to your songs “Welcome to Disgraceland” and “Mean Gays”, and particularly the acoustic Soundcloud Live and Untucked sessions. Besides your obvious talent and vocal range, I can also hear elements of Natalie Cole. Then I think, with the purity of tone in your sound, you could almost sing a Disney princess. How did you find out you had that voice?

You mean, like “Part Of your World” (from The Little Mermaid)? Thanks! When I was little, I was always being told ‘Shane, sing like a boy! Shane, sing like a boy!” and I guess before puberty, most boys have the high girlie voices. I guess because I was singing all the way through, my voice never ‘broke.’ It was a very gradual process. Unlike other boys, I guess because I was in singing lessons at the time when my voice would have broken, my range remained pretty high.

I only really started singing in drag for a few month before Australian Idol in 2003. Because of Australian Idol, I kept singing as Courtney. With Sony, I was often handed pop songs that anyone could have sung. I wanted to move to songs that nobody else could sing, so I wrote “Welcome to Disgraceland” about my favourite times in Sydney.

Q. When I heard your new single, “Mean Gays”, and saw the video, it was certainly fun, but it reminded me of about 14 people I know. Lines such as: “They’ll take you down with just one look”,  “Too young for Botox”, or “They don’t care what you’re about.” What else can you tell me about the song?

Sometimes I forget that I just didn’t move to West Hollywood, I actually moved there to the other side of the world. With “Mean Gays”, I remember writing it while driving back from Las Vegas. I had started calling a group of friends “Mean Gays” affectionately. It did start as a swingy tongue-in cheek about a group of friends I knew, but it does address a wider portion of the world that is not just that.

Also, for me, it was about my own struggle with my place in the gay world. When I came out when I was 18, I had all these ideals of the gay community thrust upon me, you know, most of them visual – how you should look, how you should act, the right gym, the right hair, the right teeth, having the perfect underwear model body and all that. At the same time, I started doing drag, and so fell in love with performing. Having the underwear model body and the Courtney Act body were mutually exclusive. I struggled throughout my 20s. Oddly I kind of blamed Courtney for some of those struggles and I then I kind of realized I had to thank Courtney because I wasn’t able to conform to the gay aesthetic ideal and therefore had to learn to be comfortable with myself how I was. In some ways, through my 20’s, I thought that Courtney was a detriment but now I realize she was an asset. A Sydney drag queen once said to me me that you have to look at drag as a strength, not a weakness. Now, it’s strangely of the greatest gifts I’ve been given.

Q. Your current success in North America now is largely due to RuPaul’s Drag Race TV Show, but how do you feel about being edited into the TV role of “mean girl” or having been painted as the “pretty over-confident one”?

It was odd for me watching it back because my experience didn’t match what I saw on the television. And I thought that it was… I felt a little bit hurt by the way that I was portrayed, because I didn’t feel it wasn’t accurate. It seemed a little obvious . They thought ‘Oh, she’s pretty. Let’s make her the mean girl’.

Obviously, when I see myself on television I’m aware what that world is all about, but seeing the manipulated image on TV was a lot more challenging than I thought, you know, I felt a little bit hurt. I don’t care what people think if what they think is about who I am if I’m being myself. If you don’t like it, that’s completely fine by me. But, when I’m being portrayed as not myself, and people don’t like me, then that’s a challenge. As a result, I’m now traveling around the world more than ever and meeting more people who can get to know the real me.


Courtney Act Carnival Photo Credit: Magnus Hastings

“I was just thinking today while getting ready. I didn’t just go on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I had moved to the other side of the world.” – Courtney Act – Photo Credit: Magnus Hastings

How do you think drag fits into your own sense of gender ?

I do think that drag and gender do intercept. The path I’ve chosen to express myself creatively, it does give a sense of gender. I think for a long time I pretended that I put on drag like somebody put on a uniform. I think that I was in some ways, maybe, scared of admitting that perhaps there was something more than just putting on a costume. I’d say that it was some sort of internalized transphobia in some strange way. There isn’t a full acceptance of drag within the gay community. Living in L.A. has given me a chance to get to learn more about myself and I love the term “gender-queer.” I love the term “queer” for sexuality and I love the term “gender queer” for gender identity, because there’s also a political element to it, refusing to be put into a box for gender. I feel we’re on the leading edge of that civil rights movement now.

Courtney Act performs as part of the Bank Street BIA & Capital Pride Rainbow Party Friday Night Aug. 22 at Barrymore’s. You can hear more of Courtney Act at

PLAYLIST! Stuntman Stu, Jim Watson, Mark Monahan, and more notable Ottawans reveal their Ultimate Summer Song


This sleek little speaker is made in Ottawa by PowerStick. The PowerSound operates with BlueTooth and near field audio to play music from a phone, tablet, laptop, or other media player — and can charge your electronics, so the party never stops. Photo by Christian Lalonde.

This sleek little speaker is made in Ottawa by PowerStick. The PowerSound operates with BlueTooth and near field audio to play music from a phone, tablet, laptop, or other media player — and can charge your electronics, so the party never stops. Photo by Christian Lalonde.

Summer songs have a sort of timeless quality. Their sunny vibes bring to mind the open road, late-night walks, cottage parties, and that tinge of bittersweetness in knowing that it’ll all be over by fall. We’re striking while it’s hot with this list of summer songs from Ottawans of note. Use it to compile your soundtrack to summer.


“Flashback” Jazzanova Remix – Fat Freddy’s Drop, 2005

“DJ Trevor Walker was playing a remix of this tune like mad that summer. It was just a must — I would drop everything I was doing, and I would run to the dance floor and dance to the whole track like a horny teenager.”
Claudia Balladelli, Music Programmer, Mercury Lounge



“Young Leaves” – Attack in Black, 2007

“Everyone in my hometown of Sudbury listened to Attack in Black’s album Marriage on repeat when it came out in the summer of 2007. “Young Leaves” reminds me of late-night barbecues, sloppy bush parties, and group hugs.”
Sarah Bradley, Musician, Fevers



“Here Come the Girls” – Ernie K-Doe, 1970

“I spent a lot of time in Louisiana during the summer of 2010, covering the aftermath of the BP oil spill. I constantly heard this song on the radio, fell in love with it, and that fall my bridesmaids made their grand entrance to a hooting and hollering crowd at our wedding. So fun!”
Robyn Bresnahan, Host, CBC Ottawa Morning



“Bobcaygeon” – The Tragically Hip, 1999

“Not only one of the most beautiful songs ever written but quintessentially summer in Canada — it evokes the pull of starry summer nights in cottage country, hot city nights, disquieting political unrest, life choices, and love.”
Simone Deneau, Producer –  NAC Presents, National Arts Centre




“Joppa Road” – Ween, 1994

“This song brings all the best of summer together for me. Road trips, slow drives, longing … very nostalgic, and what is summer if not an idea that rarely comes to pass? It’s also pretty danceable in a cheesy, carefree-hippie kind of way.”
Dayanti Karunaratne , Editor, Ottawa Magazine



“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” –  Beastie Boys, 1987

“While not necessarily my favourite song by them, it’s definitely an anthem that evokes road trips and fun times, part of which are necessary for a great summer.”
—Caitlin Kealey, Partner, MediaStyle




“Little Deuce Coupe” – The Beach Boys, 1963

“It’s the first tune that comes to mind when I’m asked what my favourite summer song is — it’s nice and catchy.”
Mark Monahan, Executive Director, Bluesfest



“Smooth” – Santana featuring Rob Thomas, 1999

“It’s my go-to summer song lately. It’s just a great tune!”
Catherine O’Grady, Executive Director, Ottawa Jazz Festival



“Places and Space” Donald Byrd , 1975

“Written and produced by the genius Mizell Brothers, this song has power, man. I close my eyes, and the chillest, most laid-back ’70s vibe comes over me. The lush, soaring strings, the groove, the jazz choir — I can feel the ocean breeze blowing in my hair, the beating hot sun, and peace and contentment. Ah, life is good.”
Marielle Rivard, Vocalist, The Souljazz Orchestra



“Power of Love” (Extended Dance Mix) – Huey Lewis and the News, 1985

“The classic song from Back to the Future has been on my radar ever since the movie came out almost 30 years ago. I crank it up every chance I get, especially on a warm summer day driving around the capital.”
Stuntman Stu Schwartz, Host, MAJIC 100




“Rockaway Beach” – The Ramones, 1977

“Although released almost 37 years ago, “Rockaway Beach” has become a timeless summer classic. I love this song because it’s part Beach Boys and part machine gun, and when it comes on the radio on a summer evening when I’m driving with the windows down … it’s absolutely perfect.”
Slo’ Tom Stewart, Musician




“Here Comes the Summer”  The Undertones, 1979

“Growing up in Ireland, two minutes of sunshine was always welcome. If it was okay by John Peel, then it was okay by me. Fantastic sleeve too.”
Shane Waldron, Co-Owner, The Wellington Gastropub




“Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams, 1985

“I don’t actually remember the summer of  ’69 because I was so young then, but it’s always been a great summer song that still finds its way onto the playlists at events and parties. I saw Bryan Adams for the first concert at the Corel Centre, and I presented him the key to the city in the ’90s.”
Jim Watson, Mayor, Ottawa


OUTSIDE VOICE: Jon Hynes moves keenly to the front with confident “Watchful Creatures”

By Glenn Nuotio

Jon Hynes + cat

Songwriter JON HYNES, a multi-instrumentalist taking his time and building a new community with the release of “Watchful Creatures”


It seems everyone in Canada’s indie music scene should have met, heard, or performed a show with Jon Hynes by now. Since leaving St. John’s (as singer/songwriter of the acclaimed band Trailer Camp) for Toronto in 2008, followed by a move to Ottawa in 2011, his back-up vocals, guitar, bass and percussion abilities have assisted an impressive list of already innovative musical acts, including Betty Burke, Gentleman Reg, Matthew Barber, Hidden Cameras, Hey, Rosetta!, and Jeremy Fisher. Just back from this summer’s Dawson City Music Festival as drummer of Evening Hymns, and about to split after Ottawa’s Arboretum Festival in August for 9 weeks to play bass for The Wooden Sky across Europe this autumn, it’s difficult to keep track of what he’s doing lately and for whom. He managed somehow to also fit in his own debut album launch in Ottawa on Friday, July 25.

Read the rest of this entry »

GAME DAY! Time to get pumped with Metallica, The Trews, Blackwell, and more


Songs have been an integral part of sports and public spectacle, perhaps even before music was itself one of the contests alongside the physical events of the ancient Olympics.

A giant inflatable REDBLACKS helmet welcomes fans to the pep rally at Marion Dewar Plaza, Ottawa City Hall. July 17th, 2014. Photos by Glenn Nuotio

When the July 17 pep rally was announced to cheer on the OTTAWA REDBLACKS before their Friday, July 18 sold-out home opener against the Toronto Argonauts, the football fan in me had to check it out. With the added news that popular Atlantic Canadian rock band The Trews were chosen to play Friday’s first-ever pregame show at TD Place, the musician in me wondered how else music would play a part in the festivities.

At one point in the pep rally, mascot Big Joe flipped his axe handle over into a pretend mic and lip-synched a Shania Twain song. That was followed by Ottawa-based country vocal trio Blackwell singing “REDBLACKS style”, a modified-version of their new single “Redneck Style,” which will be released to radio next week.

Questions swirled: With a sold-out stadium crowd on Friday and a diverse city with CFL players from all over North America, would the soundtrack to motivate this new generation of #RNation take a regional Ontario approach?

Not being a huge country rock fan, was I just being a music snob?

Did our new CFL team have an official song yet?

What kind of music did the REDBLACKS as a team play in practice getting ready this week?

What about each player? What music do they need to prepare for the big moment?

I surveyed others at the rally to see if I could find out some answers.

Read the rest of this entry »

OUTSIDE VOICE: Amanda Rheaume on the responsibility and opportunity of writing family stories

OUTSIDE VOICE  is a new feature. It follows musician and writer Glenn Nuotio as he chats with artists, musicians, news-makers and community builders. This new column is published at


Amanda Rheaume plays her 6th Ottawa Bluesfest Friday July 11 at 6 PM on the River Stage. PHOTO CREDIT- KIM VINCENT

I am, at best, an awkward morning person. I get my chance to call songwriter and performer Amanda Rheaume at 9:15 a.m. during the week she’s preparing for her Ottawa Bluesfest performance on Friday, July 11th at 6 p.m. on The River Stage. I’m certain this is her first interview of the day, but she does have to take another call at 9:45 a.m.

Amanda Rheaume: I’m awake early a lot, actually.

Glenn Nuotio: How many gigs are you doing a year right now?

AR: I didn’t count it this year yet, but it’s usually between 150 to 180 or so. It really depends if I have an album and if I’m doing more touring.

We talk about her latest album “Keep a Fire” (2013). Amanda details the early co-writing process of songs with John MacDonald, leading her to learn more about her Métis heritage and interpret her personal family history. Listening to the album’s shift of historical and emotional elements, I notice the differences in arrangements between “Keep a Fire” and her last album “Light of Another Day.” Both were produced by Ross Murray.

AR: I first met Ross years ago. First of all he’s a fantastic musician, but he’s just so good at kinda getting the best out of me, song-wise, but also vocally. I find that’s he’s just so great …  if I bring a song to him, and there’s just voice and guitar, he’s really good at keeping that original essence of the song. His vision is just really good at working with the artist and maintaining the original vision of the music and the songs. He plays drums and percussion and all sorts of other hilarious things on the album as well. It’s just this big, creative, fun time.

GN: What was it like to embody the emotional contexts of your ancestors?

AR: There was a panic that all of this information would leave once people passed away. It became really important to me to have family stories and Canadian stories. People have said to me ‘ Oh I wouldn’t even bother looking back. There’s nothing interesting.’ You know, you’d be surprised. You just have to ask and you just have to look. I mean, we all come from somewhere and somewhere important. Decisions are made for our life to be this way. I think it’s important to honour that.

Read the rest of this entry »

SOUND SEEKERS: New CD From The Musettes

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani   

The Musettes Press photo 2

Ottawa folk trio The Musettes bring The Good Lovelies to mind. The Musettes’ first EP, Wanderlust, has that soothing-yet-soulful quality evident in the work of that other folk trio of international renown.

The Musettes play fiddle, guitar, ukulele, drums, melodica and mandolin — and use their own voices as instruments — on the five-song EP produced by Jonathan Chandler of the band Amos the Transparent. They also have a knack for whimsy and well-chosen cover tunes. Their version of I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons has more than 35,000 YouTube views.

They’ll bring those group harmonies and foot-stomping sounds to St. Luke’s Church on Saturday, June 21 for their EP release party. Ahead of that gig , Sound Seekers asked The Musettes a few questions.

Introduce everyone? Who is in The Musettes?
The Musettes are Rachel Harrison, singer, guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire! Meaghan LaGrandeur (singer, fiddler and songwriter!) and Lora Bidner, who is an amazing singer, piano player and songwriter.

When and how did you come together?
We all met at Canterbury High School and graduated from the music program.

Read the rest of this entry »

SOUND SEEKERS: Festival season begins!

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani   

SABphoto crop

 Dave Forcier, Steve Adamyk, Davey Quesnelle. Steve Adamyk Band play Club SAW June 14 for Ottawa Explosion

Ottawa Explosion kicks things off, plus a new track from Steve Adamyk Band

Festival season is upon us. The following weeks offer plenty of opportunities to catch live music. The bouncing and beer-drinking starts with the annual punk fest known as Ottawa Explosion.

At that festival, which takes place June 12-15 at about 10 different venues in the city, you can catch a number of punk/grunge/rawk acts, including hometowners The Steve Adamyk Band.

The trio’s new album is called Dial Tone and their label, Dirtnap Records, recently posted this new tune called “Crash Course in Therapy.” Check it out. It’s a minute-and-a-half of Gabba Gabba goodness from the band’s fourth album, to be released July 1.

See the Steve Adamyk Bank at Club SAW Saturday, June 14 and find the full Ottawa Explosion lineup here .

On the subject of concert lineups, we took an office poll of Ottawa Magazine editors for hot picks from this year’s festival rosters. Here’s who we want to see.

Ottawa Explosion: Steve Adamyk Band, Big Dick, Pookie & the Poodlez, Mother’s Children, Kappa Chow

Westfest: Fevers, A Tribe Called Red, The Peptides, Pony Girl

Ottawa Jazz Festival: Austra, DJ Rekha, The Bad Plus does Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Bela Fleck & Brooklyn Rider, Holly Cole, Colin Stetson, Sandra Nkake, Socalled, Aretha Franklin

Bluesfest: Sly & Robbie, Drive By Truckers, St. Vincent, Andrew Bird, Blondie, The Killers

Ottawa Folk Fest: Lorde, Jill Zmud, M. Ward, Wooden Sky, Lora Bidner, The Milk Carton Kids.

What are you seeing on the live circuit this summer? Comment here or tweet us @ottawamag

SOUND SEEKERS: Free Music! Fevers “Dance Cry Dance” gets remix love

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani   

Fevers. Photo by

Fevers. Photo by Shooter McNally

Fevers release remixes of their banger track

Ottawa indie-electro band Fevers has a new remix EP. You can get it for free by liking their Facebook page. On the album, there are a handful of reworkings of their banger track “Dance Cry Dance,” one of the poppy highlights from their dark-pop full-length album No Room for Light, which was released last summer.

Upon the record’s release, Sound Seekers said:

“The album wavers between revelry, melancholy and back again as captured in the song, “Dance Cry Dance” with its anthemic wail about forgetting all your problems. The full-length album is a stunning, outta-the-park debut from the city’s top-shelf indie-electro band.”
Out of all the album’s songs, “Dance Cry Dance” is an obvious candidate for remixing, both from a technical aspect — there are plenty of spots to drop in beats or change up the the pace — and also from a sense of song. The tune’s mix of pathos and party gives producers plenty of options for amplification and embellishment of either mood.

There are fine takes on the song from Adam Saikaley, who gives “Dance Cry Dance” a disco-bounce aesthetic, while Dialoog adds an out-there ambience that’s pretty magical. There’s a version redone by Legion of Green Men, plus a transformation of the track “In Your Bones” that was helped along by star producer Damian Taylor (Bjork, The Killers, Austra).

To help explain the album, we turned to each member of Fevers to ask them to champion a track from the album.

Here goes:

Track One: Dance Cry Dance (Radio Edit)

Jim Hopkins (bass): “It’s the original — you can’t go wrong! Joking aside, we did cut it down a little bit for the radio. You know those guys don’t like you going past four minutes!”

Read the rest of this entry »

SOUND SEEKERS: Push Play for Party

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Photo cutline: Ouimet and Pedersen Take Time Out to Twerk; a studio session

Ouimet and Pedersen: a studio session

Recently, musician Matt Ouimet sent a note around looking for shares, retweets and the like. It was for a new project he’s calling The Party Band.

The email told a story of a time last summer when Ouimet and his pal Craig Pedersen got together to do some beer drinking. It was a rather efficient session. After two hours, the duo had knocked down a few dead soldiers and written some 22 hits.

Later on, with some sober second thought, Ouimet and Pedersen took another listen to the tracks. They did some arranging and weeding out, and then asked around for a few extra musicians to play on the recording of what would become The Party Band album.

“We embarked on making a record the exact wrong way you should,” Ouimet wrote. “By inviting our friends to mail their parts recorded at home — or visit one at a time in the studio, while only referencing some very basic follow tracks.” Meaning, once they arrived at the studio (or started recording at home in the bathroom-as-sound-studio), players were playing as they thought they should, without hearing themselves in context of a full band.

Once he had all the musical pieces together, Ouimet mixed, massaged, and mastered the project and posted it online here.

Have a click on the Bandcamp link and let the thing stream. What you’ll hear is some noodling that works its way up to a master jam track by track.

It’s not just any ole beer-drinking, male-bonding, ritual-happy, accident project. The album started as a fun idea and was helped along by a long list of Ouimet’s and Pedersen’s pals who happen to be “Local Musical Heroes,” as Ouimet put it — with the capital L-M-H.

Herewith, the list of LMH contributors to the new party band album:

  • Craig Pedersen (trumpet, vocals)
  • Matt Ouimet (drums, bass, guitar, keys, percussion)
  • Tyler Harris (sax)
  • Detonator, feat. Ryan Purchase and Mike Schultz (trombone)
  • Phil Shaw Bova (drums)
  • Metronome & the Time feat. Dave Dudley, Matt Godin and Ouimet (percussion)
  • Jeremy Fisher (tambourine)
  • Stuart Watkins (bass)
  • Phil Victor Bova (bass)
  • Blake Jacobs (guitar)
  • Pat Lawler (guitar)
  • Wayne Eagles (guitar)
  • John Higney (guitar)
  • Don Cummings (organ)
  • Steve Boudreau (keys)
  • Renee Yoxon (vocals)
  • Sherri MacLeod (vocals)

Given the logistical nightmare of wrangling a dozen or so musicians together, (herding cats etc., etc.) The Party Band doesn’t plan a live show. This one is a click-and-party type thing.

Ouimet and Pedersen take time out to twerk

Ouimet and Pedersen take time out to twerk

SOUND SEEKERS: Searchlight Brings the Spotlight

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani


high res

Ottawa’s very talented Erin Saoirse Adair. She made it to the Top 4 spot in the recent CBC Searchlight competition, which sought out the best musicians and songwriters from around Canada. She plays a pass-the-hat show at the Lunenburg Pub, May 22 at 9 p.m.

Ottawa singer-songwriter Erin Saoirse Adair represented Ottawa well on the national CBC Searchlight contest, aimed at discovering new Canadian talent. She was listed as one of the top 4 Canadian artists in the contest, which closed earlier this month. The winning band was Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk from Calgary, Alta.

Sound Seekers spoke to Adair about the contest.

SOUND SEEKERS: What was it like to be named in the top 4 and get an endorsement from Torquil Campbell (Stars)?

Erin Saoirse Adair: What an incredible experience Searchlight has been. It was huge ego boast to receive endorsements from all the judges and Torquil Campbell in particular. To have my music appreciated by such incredible songwriters such as Sarah Slean and Torquil Campbell was very inspiring and definitely showed me that I am on the right track with my career. Sarah Slean tweeted me the other day and said she enjoyed listening to my CD while she was cleaning her apartment. That made my day.

SS: What has it meant to place fourth? Have you seen any ripple effects from all the publicity around the contest?

ESA: Being in the National Top 4 for the CBC Searchlight competition has showed me how much support I have from my friends and fans. I could not be more grateful for this support. Thousands of people across the country heard my music and whether they hated it or loved it, they had a strong reaction and this showed how far I made it in the competition. I found the reaction to my music has been overwhelmingly positive, and this is shown in the expansion of my social media presence and in many new gigs to be performed this summer and fall.

SS: What would it mean to have won?

ESA: If I had won, I would have been able to buy a new keyboard and some more gear. Though I didn’t win the entire competition, I feel like Searchlight was very fruitful in how it expanded my fanbase. Being played several times on CBC Radio and getting endorsements from the judges was definitely a win.

SS: What kind of comments have you heard? Why do you think you placed so well?

ESA: I worked very hard at promoting my entry in the competition. I created videos, memes, and constantly tweeted. After this initial push for votes, the support I was receiving snowballed. I received many positive comments, and some negative comments. I feel like listeners either had a strong negative or strong positive reaction to my music, and this polarized reaction is what pushed me forward in the competition. As a good friend of mine always said, “Whether they hate you or they love you, they’re still talking about you.”

SS: What’s happening at the show on Thursday (May 22)? Is it part of the Searchlight contest?

ESA: No, the show isn’t part of the competition. It is my first solo show in a long time, and I am very excited to showcase my new material. I have several new songs, and have been experimenting with new arrangements on the piano. The show on Thursday is part of the FREE Acoustic Thursday’s series at the Lunenburg Pub. I am sharing the bill with local musician Chuck Karn.

SS: Were you aware of the other musicians in the Top 4 before the contest?

ESA: I had heard of Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, but I hadn’t heard of the other two. I have been living sort of under a rock for the past few years, and most of the music I listen to is as least 40 years old.

SS: Tell us about your second album.

ESA: I am currently working on releasing a second CD. This record, more than the first, will deal with my experiences with sexual assault, mental health issues and poverty. Most of the songs are deeply political in that they directly address these issues. One of my favourites is a song I wrote about my experiences with alcoholism, and in particular, how substance abuse issues can directly stem from being abused in your workplace. Substance abuse problems are often stigmatized, mainly in how they relate to poverty. If you’re poor and are exploited by an employer on day to day basis, you will want to drink after work to “wind down,” and when you’re being constantly abused in your workplace, you will turn to substances as a way to escape from your life. The tentative title of this song is “I Want Drugs (Fire Your Boss),” and I plan to release this as a single in September. The CD is set to be released in the spring of 2015.

Many other songs on my album are about rape culture, as this is something that I deal with as a sexual assault survivor. I write songs to challenge the misogynists and rape apologists who tell me that I should be silent. I think we should live in a world where sexual assault survivors are able to openly talk about their experiences without being slut-shamed or blamed for the abuse that has been perpetuated against them.

There are many other themes that I work on in my CD such as anti-racism, indigenous issues, and cultural appropriation, and this is different than my debut CD because I will be singing more songs about social justice.

I am currently working on creating a crowd-funding campaign through to release my CD. This will be finished within the next two weeks.

Erin Saoirse Adair plays a pass-the-hat show at the Lunenburg Pub, May 22 at 9 p.m. Check here for more details.


Erin Saoirse Adair: “Whether they hate you or they love you, they’re still talking about you”