You have been in the music scene for a long time now, being involved with numerous projects and bands. In 2010 you decided to write own material, which eventually turned into Saltland and the release of your first album this year. What made you start writing your own songs?
I wanted to challenge myself in new ways artistically. I actually had to get asked to perform solo to get the courage to try. Three years ago, the Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival in Montreal invited me to open up for Julia Kent, one of my favorite cellists - and I could not say no (even though the idea was nerve-wracking). After that I started to pull together different compositional strands and impulses that had been part of my playing over the years, and managed to get into the Banff Center for a couple of weeks, pretty much just isolating myself in one of their cabin studios and demoing ideas that became the framework for a record.
What is the story behind the album title?
This album is about the power of community. It weaves in themes of sustainability, climate change, environmental degradation, urban agriculture and hope for new beginnings and fostering a sustainable path forward together. Images of salt-land deserts and innovative urban designs, like the High Line in New York were on my mind while composing this record. I was also thinking about Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, which is were I grew up.
Does playing live as Saltland have a totally different meaning and feeling for you? Or do you carry the same motivation and feeling with you on every band and project you are involved in?
Saltland is a very personal and intimate project for me. It's the first time I've written lyrics and sung any sort of "lead" vocals so has been very scary but also very rewarding. Music is something I need to do in my life to feel healthy and this is feeling is at the core of what drives me to keep making music. Esmerine offers a different type of musical challenge as it is a really fun opportunity to explore the cello in different ways and collaborate with such beautiful instruments and talented musicians.
Saltland has a more easy-to-access sound and song writing compared to your other projects. Is Saltland kind of like an awakening of different side of your musical taste?
Perhaps, it really is just what came out of me. I was excited to explore looped cello and vocals and writing lyrics. The songs took about two years to get to a place I was happy with. Mark Lawson produced the album and has been a true inspiration to work with - he very much helped shape the overall aesthetic of the record.