Mixes, Round 1

About two months after leaving the studio, we received the first mixes of the album. I was thrilled, and immediately walled off a block of time to listen without interruption. My art project! I had a (rough) copy of my art project, at long last!

I wish I could tell you that upon first listen, I felt proud of what I’d created, that I felt gusto and all of the “hell yeah” steam in the world. Mainly I just felt small. Who was I to have any business writing another album? What talent do I even have? Am I even a real musician? What if all the time, energy and money spent was for nothing?

A high (the mixes!), a low (I’m crap!). So it goes.

The mixes were fine. Still some work to be done (major work on a couple of tracks). But hearing them through this time around surfaced every one of my insecurities.

Fortunately, I’d also been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s soothing voice in Big Magic for the second time. It’s a book all creatives should read. It put me at ease. It allowed me the mental space to think, “even if this isn’t perfect, I’m still proud.” To think that, even if this album amounts to nothing, or everyone hates it, it was still a worthwhile pursuit, one that filled my soul with pleasure and grew my character.

Recording this album, just like with These Blue Walls from 2012, will be one of my favorite memories and one of my proudest projects. I know that to be true. These Blue Walls wasn’t perfect, but it was the best of what we were that moment in time. I feel that this new album is the best I have at this moment in time, and that’s a wonderful thing.



To move, or not to move?

I’ve been thinking about moving.

This isn’t a new thought. I’ve moved many times over the years, most notably to Austin and Toronto. I love living in big cities; Toronto is in my Top 5 favorite places on the planet. Despite the cost of living and the traffic, I treasured my time there and have frequently considered going back in the nearly six years I’ve spent away.

Saskatchewan is my home. It’s where my people are, and where my roots run deep. Being here, my toddler gets to see her grandparents often. She gets to play with her cousins and spend many of her days at a small farm, outside in the clean air and without screens. I don’t take for granted the closeness of my dear friends and family. This closeness is what I missed most when I lived thousands of kilometres away from home. It’s why I moved back (that, and the expense of the city).

But is Saskatchewan a place for indie rock acts?

I could certainly argue it’s a great place for some kinds of musicians. Cover artists and country artists do well here. But indie rockers?

To be certain, some stellar hustlers have made it work. I think immediately of Rah Rah, Library Voices, Def-3, and further back, Wide Mouth Mason. Most of them, at some point, moved away. But they started here. They pulled it off.

Moving to a big city isn’t a guarantee of success. It’s probably the opposite. There’s so much more opportunity, but that opportunity comes at the cost of accessibility. Everything is more difficult: jamming and rehearsing, getting into venues to perform, the higher costs of frequently going out to live shows, the longer transit times, and on.

Michael and I made that mistake the first time we moved to Toronto in 2013. We were starry-eyed idealists chasing a dream. But the dream died when we scraped up against reality. The reality being that we were broke, lonely, and in way over our heads.

I’d like to think I’m smarter now, that I could plan instead of daydream, that I could take action instead of sitting around. I’m better at risk-taking than I was. I’m less afraid. But it’s so easy to kid myself into thinking that the Big City is a cure-all, the single thing that’ll make everything else work. I already made that mistake once, and still I want to believe it’s true.

The pragmatic approach is to stay in Saskatchewan for a while. Hunker down and use the low cost of living and stability to my advantage. But the dreamer in me – the one who craves excitement and a rich storybook life – wants to dive into the bright lights and loud noises and small living spaces and crowded streets, to hell with it all.

At the very least, I’m staying put until 2021, in no small part because of Covid. After that, all bets are off.


Releasing an album is a lot.

Staring into the future of my album launch is something like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking out over a seemingly-unending seascape. I have to jump in the water, and I have to swim. It’s inevitable and it’s scary. I don’t know how far it goes; only that I can’t see the land on the other side yet.

I’ve been a musician for as long as I can remember, and I know a little about music. I can play Beethoven and write a pop song and improvise in a room full of musician-strangers. But I don’t know anything about the business. How it all goes. How an album is birthed into the world. All these years, focusing solely on the product – the music – with no attention to everything else.

That’s the mentality of the hobbyist. Someone who writes music and jams and plays shows purely for fun, purely for the love of it. I love music, no question there. But I’d also love to share my music, and connect with people who listen to it. Without any business, without any marketing, without any plan, my album will be a tiny drop in an ocean that’ll disappear as soon as it arrives.

That’s how it went for The Criminal Kid’s first album in 2012. Our band broke up mere months after our studio recording sessions, and our album release came and went without much fanfare. No one had the heart to promote it. We were idealistic kids who had no idea what we were doing.

So here I am, a month out of the studio, staring at the ceiling and saying fuck. What am I doing? How do I do this? How do I share this?

There’s a knowledge gap. How am I supposed to plan for something I don’t understand?

I could keep staring at the ceiling – staring at the sea – or I could understand. Learn to swim, and learn to swim well.

That’s where I’m at right now, my friends. My face buried in books and piles of notes. I’m going to figure this out. We’re going to do this thing.


An album announcement video!

​Hey friends!

This announcement has been a long time coming. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been steadily working toward recording a new album – getting all the prep work done (marketing plans, grant applications, hiring the team). And now we’re nearly at the fun part: recording!

Here’s a video I just published about it.

This video was filmed and edited by my friend Rob, who works on film sets in Vancouver, BC. He’s going to be the producer of The Criminal Kid’s second album (and was the producer of the first album as well).

My friend Rob and I go way back. I joined his band in 2004, a nervous vocalist and keyboardist who’d never jammed with anyone before. The stars aligned with his family traveling to Saskatchewan over the summer, so we decided that now’s the time. 

I’ll be sharing videos and updates of the process, so stay tuned for that! We officially go into the studio on July 3rd.

Come hang out over on Instagram if you want to catch daily updates!

Talk soon, lovely people!


Beginning Again.

January is the time for resolutions. I optimistically set mine just like everyone else. In January, I declared that I would make 2020 the year of “courage, songwriting and recording an album”.

In the winter, this declaration felt vague. I worked toward recording demos of the piano/vocal parts of my songs and finished five. But I didn’t have a vision for how it would all come together, and if I’d even be capable of recording another album this year.

Then, Covid. Guess I won’t be performing this year. I decided to drop the music project altogether, opting to focus on writing and my business.

But the music wouldn’t leave me alone. I left it, but it kept coming back to me. I’d look at a mile-long to-do list and still somehow find myself on the basement keyboard, writing and singing, beyond my better judgement.

Last month, something shifted. Perhaps it was the big emotional wave of the last half-year settling. My feet landed on the sand and I felt, yes, I need to do this. I recorded five more demos in a week. I connected with the producer of my first album, and we began hustling for album grants and patching together a lineup for studio recordings.

Now, a couple of weeks later, with a grant application submitted, a marketing plan created, and recording dates in July booked, it’s all very real, very quickly.

Michael Van Betuw and I will be the main performers on the album – the longest threads. As for the rest, we’ll see.

This afternoon we’ll be working out a schedule and setting up some Covid-friendly jams for the end of the month. Fortunately, my province has been relatively sheltered from the pandemic – we can convene to practice and record.

Looking forward to sharing the journey with you.