Last weekend we kicked off the 2017 Safety Meeting series with beautiful performances from Kym Gouchie and Marin Patenaude, with her band the Follow Through.
It felt great to get things going with back-to-back sold out nights — thanks to everybody who came out!
For episode two on Jan. 27, we are going to rattle the floorboards of the Arts Centre with something completely different.
I first caught wind of musician Andrew Judah when ArtsWells artistic director David Harder was up to his elbows booking last year’s festival.
David was blown away by Judah’s submission and sent me a YouTube link.
I couldn’t believe we had somebody doing stuff like this in our own province.
A few months later I was lucky enough to run sound for one of his sets at ArtsWells. The band’s live energy was so far beyond anything YouTube could possibly capture.
He was immediately on my wish-list for the 2017 Safety Meeting lineup.
“Yeah it can be a challenge to describe,” Judah said in a recent interview when asked to describe his musical style.
“But I guess it’s a mix between more progressive bands like Radiohead or Arcade Fire, and then throw in some weird folk elements like Sufjan Stevens, with kind of a throwback vibe to it. But yeah, it is hard to describe, but progressive indie rock pop. I love rhythm, so there’s a lot of danceable rhythmic stuff going on too.”
Andrew Judah is joining us for the second instalment of the 2017 Safety Meeting concert series on Friday, Jan. 27 at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre.
Opening the night is Rowan Dolighan and band.
Rowan is easily one of my favourite songwriters and singers to come out of the Cariboo.
He takes the stage with an understated grace, then knocks out these amazingly crafted songs with perfect precision. I started bugging him about opening a Safety Meeting around the beginning of the summer, and since then we have put together a sweet band, if I do say so myself.
Joining Rowan is guitarist Lyndon Froese, singer Molly Lamb, drummer Brent Morton, and yours truly Brandon Hoffman on bass. It has been the easiest material to work-up, ever. From the first practice we already sounded like a band.
Think Wilco meets Whitehorse, with songwriting akin to the Shins.
Tickets for the Friday, Jan. 27 performance of Andrew Judah and Rowan Dolighan are available at Red Shreds for a suggested $20.
A bar is provided by the Cariboo Festival Society. Doors at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre next to city hall open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
The following is a recap of a telephone conversation I had with Andrew.
(Brandon Hoffman) – So you were working today, do you have a day job outside of music?
(Andrew Judah) – Just music, it’s my day job as well. I do music for TV and film, so I do a lot of freelance composing during the day, and when I’m not working on that it’s the “Andrew Judah” stuff.
(BH) – Anything I would recognize?
(AJ) – I did the Lincoln commercial, the Matthew McConaughey one that Jim Carey spoofed on SNL.
(BH) – Wow, hilarious, and you do this right out of Kelowna?
(AJ) – Yeah, I have a recording studio at my house, and I work freelance for a lot of companies that are mostly based out of Los Angeles or New York.
(BH): I had no idea, that’s cool. But let’s talk about the actual “Andrew Judah” project.
I still have a tough time describing your sound to folks, but I keep coming back to the word transcendental. How do you describe your sound?
(AJ): Yeah it can be a challenge to describe [laughs]. But I guess it’s a mix between more progressive bands like Radiohead or Arcade Fire, and then throw in some weird folk elements like Sufjan Stevens, with kind of a throwback vibe to it.
But yeah, it is hard to describe, but progressive indie rock pop. I love rhythm, so there’s a lot of danceable rhythmic stuff going on too.
(BH): I’m sure a lot of that comes from your drummer too, what’s his name?
(AJ): Zac Gauthier.
(BH): How about inspiration? What inspires your music and lyrics?
(AJ): Well, I’ve been doing this 6-EP project, [Metanoia] where I release an EP each month for six months. I just have one more to release, which should be out in the next few weeks.
With that project, the lyrics have to do with changing your mind.
So personally, it has to do with changing my faith. I was raised in a fairly religious home, but as an adult I’ve been kind of drifting away from that.
So the lyrics have to do with reshaping my belief system, going from a Christian home to becoming more of an atheist as an adult.
(BH): Wow, that’s got to be pretty huge. Has that change had a big impact on your community life?
(AJ): Yeah, it does with some people, it depends. A lot of the people in my circle are pretty open minded, but it’s difficult for some.
Some of my family, um – but it’s been a very gradual thing that’s been happening for years. I’ve kind of come to terms with it, and it’s been good.
(BH): I notice a lot of religious references in some of your older music too, so this seems to be a thing that occupies a lot of your mental space.
(AJ): Totally. I’m almost tired of writing songs about it [laughs]. But that was kind of the point of the project as well, with these six EPs it’s the topic of most of the songs, and [writing music] is kind of my way of dealing with it.
(BH): That’s an insanely ambitious project, six EPs in six months. Where can people find that?
(AJ): Anywhere you look for music, iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, it’s pretty much everywhere.
(BH): There are a lot of gear nerds that would love you to go into intense detail about your live setup, but try to explain what goes on up there like you’re talking to a five-year-old.
(AJ): We have a lot of electronics on stage, but we also try and keep a lot of traditional band elements. So there are guitars and drums, but everything gets run through effects processors and loopers, and we try and make as much of it live as possible. So there’s percussion, there’s vocal effects, there’s all kinds of manipulation happening. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot can go wrong [laughs].
(BH): Do you leave yourself some room for improvisation, or is it quite strictly orchestrated?
(AJ): There are parts that are very heavily orchestrated, that we stick to every time, but we also leave quite a bit of room to explore. Especially towards the end of the set, we make room for quite a bit of improvisation. But there are sections of every song that come out a little differently every night, to keep it feeling fresh.
(BH): Your set at the Sunset Theatre [during ArtsWells 2016] was off the hook. That place was lit up. And you played in the Basement as well – how was that?
(AJ): It was really stinky, there were so many people crammed in there, and it got really sweaty but it was an awesome set. Yeah it was really fun. Those were my two favourite gigs of last year.
(BH): I only have one other question, and this is kind of putting you on the spot, but do you have any suggestions for people looking to stay safe in the home? Any specific dangers people should be on the lookout for?
(AJ): Well, I mess around with electronic equipment quite a bit, trying to make weird sound-experiments, plugging this into that. And yeah, sometimes I electrocute myself… I’ve definitely given myself a few really bad shocks over the years, taking things apart, that specifically say on them that you shouldn’t take them apart. So maybe be careful if you’re into that [laughs].