JENN GRANT’S GOT CHAMPAGNE PROBLEMS
In her latest album, the Canadian singer-songwriter delivers a deeply collaborative post-pandemic meditation
smART MAGAZINE | HALIFAX | HOMEGROWN
JUN 26, 2023 | ISSUE 12
“Reveal yourself. Reveal your deepest darkest truths and your bravest qualities. That is the rebellious move.” JENN GRANT
TUESDAY 11 - SUNDAY 16 JULY
Halifax Jazz Festival 2023
THURSDAY 27 - SUNDAY 30 JULY
Calgary Folk Music Festival 2023
Prince's Island Park, Calgary, AB, Canada
SATURDAY 14 OCTOBER 7:00 PM
Pontypool, ON, Canada
Pontypool Community Centre
SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER2:30 PM
Perth, ON, Canada
Maberly Community Hall
WEDNESDAY 18 OCTOBER7:30 PM
Paris, ON, Canada
Dominion Telegraph Event Centre
THURSDAY 26 OCTOBER7:00 PM
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Babs Asper Theatre
LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN
sM | There’s an extra administrative component to a collaborative album like this, and as a producer on this album (alongside Daniel Ledwell), how were you able to stay in both the creative and the logistical camps without muddling both?
JG ─ I had to schedule and organize it, but then when it was time to start writing in the sessions, there were no thoughts about logistics or coordination. It was all creative, and that's just the way that life is, especially as a parent. Sometimes it was stressful because I was a very busy mother of two, with a very small infant and a one-and-a-half year old. It was a lot, but I'm a project-oriented person, so for me to keep my joy up, I like to be creating alongside motherhood, which I really love – so I just didn't really stop working.
sM | This project is ambitious in the geographical spread of your collaborators. In Halifax alone, you invited Kim Harris, Aquakultre, Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen), Ria Mae, and Joel Plaskett. You invited Toronto’s Basia Bulat and Amy Millan; on the West coast you called for Dan Mangan; and also featured Nunavut’s Joshua Quamariaq. Was there a deliberate effort to create something that is broadly Canadian?
JG ─ Yes, it was completely intentional.
sM | There are two artists of colour on this album — Lance Samson (Aquakultre), Quamariaq — which is of note in light how folk spaces can often feel exclusively white in demographic. How do you approach being intentional, without being performative, in regards to making this space more diverse?
JG ─ I think that's just something that is good to ask yourself when you’re creating. Josh Q and I met when I was up in Iqaluit for Thanksgiving for a show in 2018. And there was this living room gathering where he sang and I was really moved by his voice. And I kept saying, “Oh, I just wanna sing with you.” And I don't know if he thought I was serious or whatever, because he seemed pretty shy to me. And then I just asked him if he wanted to do this, and he said yes. And I was just so excited about having someone from Nunavut on the album because it's really important to me if I'm making a Canadian collaboration project to represent as much of Canada as I can, but in an organic and natural way.
So, as you said, it’s not about forcing diversity, but just having it in your life. Art represents life, and records for me represent time capsules of my life. An important thing for me as a human being - and how I raised my children - is to always be open and excited for diversity. And so it was very important to me that the record also demonstrates that. With Aquaculture, we became friends when our kids started hanging out, Lance has become one of my dearest friends, and same with his whole family. And Lance is just such an incredible talent, so it was really important to me to try to write a song with him. It was just one of the funnest things to write that song together, and I just can't wait to perform it. So I think it's just art representing life, and making your life as diverse and inclusive as possible. Cuz if not, you're just missing out on ife, you know?
BOYS OF SUMMER
sM | Your take on Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” is a really compelling cover of that song, and it seems the subject matter seeped into Champagne Problems. The album closes with “The Closing Down of the Summer”, and opens with “Judy” (feat Kim Harris) wherein the main character drives the same car famously mentioned in Henley song. To what extent is this album in dialogue with “Boys of Summer” and to what extent did you want to make this a specifically summer album?
JG ─ Take for example my album Compostela, a lot of that album is about losing my mother, and I wanted to kind of process all of my feelings around that and then create something that had lightness to it. I'm not interested in making art that is heavy and is all about the sort of dark sides of grief and then letting that be the thing that lingers forever in the world. I wanted to make something that can lift people if possible. So these stories and these songs with my collaborators were all born outta the pandemic, all written during the pandemic of course, but the after-effect of the record is to be something that is more like the summer and coming out of something dark. And I also wanted to wait to put it out until it felt like there was a space in the time that we're living in to have something like that, where we're ready to be lifted. So the timing of it is very intentional.
I really like your connection with the “Boys of Summer”, because I did not know that. I did not think about that. “Judy” is a story of Kim's parents, it is a record of her family history. We decided to give her dad a Cadillac in the song, but he didn’t have a Cadillac in real life.