Jaimie Milburn (JM): What does your album Painting With Tides mean to you?
Kim Wempe (KW): Well, Painting With Tides came out of generally the move I made to Nova Scotia. I grew up in the prairies, in Saskatchewan, and lived in Alberta for a few years before I moved to the east coast. The whole album was written on the east coast and kind of about the change of mind and the change of my life and what has happened over the couple of years that I’ve been here. It came out of the influence I gathered from the east coast and the people here that I gained inspiration from. It’s very important because I’m so passionate about where I live now.
JM: What is it about the east coast that you loved so much and made you stay?
KW: There wasn’t one thing, you know? I’ve always pictured visiting Nova Scotia but never living here. Two months before I was supposed to move I found out I was travelling to Nova Scotia. I feel in love with everything, literally. I finally found a music scene where I fit into. I found a home in the music scene and I found a personal home. I’ve met so many great friends and the kind of people you want to meet, and the kind of people you want to know. Everything was a combination that made me instantly know this was going to be where I called home.
JM: How would you describe Painting With Tides to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
KW: The voice is always forefront for me. I tried to make it have a raw, rootsy feel so all the vocals are the first and second vocal takes with very little compression and auto-tuning. So everything you’ll hear is very on-the-spot and real with the passion that comes through. That was really important to me when we were recording it. The meaning behind the album was me making the choice to surround myself with more positive people and looking at life in a more positive way to come out on top. I think it’s a really inspiring album in that way.
JM: What was the process of recording this album compared to recording your EP a few years back? Did you want there to be a difference?
KW: There was a big difference, and I wanted there to be a difference. The EP was very rehearsed, very planned, and a lot of the vocal takes were done until they were totally perfect. I wanted to move away from that and as I said, make a more down-to-earth, rootsy record where I use my first and second vocal takes. Those to me are the most passionate vocal takes and those are what I do live. That’s what I really wanted to happen with this record. They were both recorded very differently with very different people, in different studios. I think both have their place but I wanted to do something different and step out of my box and do something very rootsy this time around.
JM: Obviously you have great collaborations on this album including a track with Joel Plaskett, but who would you still love to collaborate with?
KW: There’s a lot! I’d probably like to do a collaboration with the whole band Deep Dark Woods because the organ player, Geoff Hilhorst, is on the album but the whole band could really add something special.
JM: What is your take on the current state of the music industry in Canada?
KW: I think it’s a period of change. I think it’s one of those industries that is constantly changing. When you hop in it you’ve kind of got to know that. There’s many things changing from traditional album sales that used to work, to musicians touring as a main method of income now. I think the basics of the music industry will always be the same it’s just the business and machine that will change around it. I think touring and music is still just as important as ever, and audiences will always need that interaction.
JM: Where do you find inspiration?
KW: Change is a big one for me. Whenever anything in my life changes it’s songwriting time pretty much. I think if you’re in your safe zone anywhere you’re not being challenged. I don’t have a lot of songs come out of me if I stay home but if I’m out on the road, take a writing retreat, or move across the country, that’s when songs starting falling out of me.
JM: What advice would you give to aspiring singer-songwriters?
KW: Just write. Don’t criticize what you’re writing at the time, just let it flow out of you. You can always go back and look at it later. The biggest no-no you can do is just stop a song in the moment because you get really down and picky about a line. Just keep writing and write about as much as you can because you have to write a lot of songs to get to the good ones.
JM: Is there anything that you’ve yet to try musically that you’d still love to try down the road?
KW: I’d love to eventually record a blues album someday. It’s what you’re influenced with at the time. I’d also love to have the time to learn other instruments, like learn to play the banjo, or the mandolin, or the fiddle, or the electric guitar. I have a bucket list of all these instruments I’d love to learn as well.
JM: Out of curiosity, what music have been listening to lately?
KW: Recently I’ve been picking at my old library trying to figure out what I really want to bring back. It’s been awhile since I’ve really gone through my playlist and picked out my old favourites. Recently I picked up an old Jamie Lidell album and I’m getting really inspired by the real bluesy-ness in his voice there. Another girl I’m going I’m going to be touring with, Gabrielle Papillon, her stuff is lovely. I’m really inspired by her and I’m excited to be touring with her. I’m constantly looking for new artists and going through my old library.
JM: What’s next for you into the fall and winter?
KW: This summer I’m here at home playing a lot of festivals and concerts on the east coast. I’m looking forward to the cross-Canada tour come the fall with Gabrielle Papillon. I’ll be bringing a lot of Painting With Tides songs out of the road, done differently. There’s a real cool tour that I can’t announce yet but I’ll be heading out in January 2012 again. On top of that hopefully recording some sort of live album too. There’s lots of things to look forward to!