CEV Artist Interview


Allison Crowe

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CEV talks to Allison Crowe

CEV:  What role did music play in your life growing up? Did you ever have formal voice/instrument training and if so what instrument did you enjoy the most? 

AC:  Music was a pretty major element in my life growing up. THE  major element. :)

I was in classical piano (Royal Conservatory) from around age 5 or so, on and off until I was about 14, then I quit in mid to late high school, and took some jazz lessons and was pretty much  self taught from then onward. I also took classical voice lessons and from time to time and probably still will! Other than that, I took lessons in bass, guitar, drums... and even played the flute in concert band. Aside from singing, piano is my favourite instrument.

CEV:  Tell me about where you grew up and whether your environment or surroundings had any influence on the music that you eventually started to create.


AC:  I grew up in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada surrounded by music and the ocean for basically my entire life. Those things  inspired me to do what I do now!

CEV:  What other artists did you listen to back then and were they instrumental in helping you figure out what you wanted to do with your own music?

AC:  I listened to a LOT of Counting Crows, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Pearl Jam, Ani DiFranco... I think they all inspired me to take on music as a way of life. They were all definitely instrumental in figuring out what I wanted to  do! Some, like Adam Duritz of Counting Crows made me want to write original songs. Ani DiFranco, her whole way of doing things inspired me. Each contributed to a different aspect of my path.

CEV: When was it that it became clear to you that you wanted to make music as a career?

AC:  It was in late high school that I really considered that it was  what I was actually going to do, and that there really wasn't any other way for me. 

CEV:  What do you like most about writing and performing music?

AC:  I love the therapeutic aspect of writing and performing, and the aspect of communicating with an audience, and hopefully helping them in any way. And even just entertaining!

CEV:  If you had to describe your music to someone without resorting to using single word niche descriptions what would you say about the songs that you write and sing?

AC:  Luckily, I am completely unable to use a single word niche description to explain what I do.. haha. You're the first person, I think, that's asked me NOT to! So! I would say that the songs themselves and time dictate what the style of them will be.

Happy, angry, bluesy, jazzy, whatever... it's whatever the music wants to be. Cornering yourself into one genre when you're writing can be a mistake. It's cool to see where things just naturally lead.

CEV:  Where do you draw inspiration from when it comes to what you write about in your songs?

AC:  I draw inspiration from life, really. All parts of it, my own, other peoples, what's going around in my brain. I can't stand my own brain but, it helps me write due to its inability to relax.

CEV:  How much of you shows up in your songs and is it difficult to sing songs that have deep personal feelings attached to them in front of an audience?

AC:  Pretty much all of me shows up in my songs, maybe more so than in my day-to-day life. It's DEFINITELY difficult to sing some songs at different times. Some I just don't. Some change their meanings as time goes on. Some I get over.

CEV:  Do you remember your first performance in front of a live audience and how you felt during and after the performance?

AC:  I remember a bunch of them and being really little, and an overall feeling - excitement, terror - and a really bizarre NEED to do it.

CEV:  As you work on a project or a new album are you consciously trying to tie the songs together with an underlying theme?

AC:  Nope! Not really. As with genre, it's kind of a process of letting the songs map themselves... song order on an album is a lot like writing a story! Some suit a beginning, some suit a middle, some are like a finale. It all depends, really. Once the songs are created, they find their own place.

CEV:  Your latest release is called Little Light which came out last year. Tell me about the music that listeners will find on this album.

AC:  Little Light came about when I realized that I had enough songs recorded to put out another album, really. They're a mix of a few different life stages that all happened kind of fast. I moved from Canada's Pacific coast to the Atlantic and I was living without a piano. So, there are more guitar songs than usual on this album.

CEV:  How did you go about choosing the songs on Little Light? Is it difficult to narrow down the songs and choose the 11 songs that would make up this release?

AC:  It's always a little difficult to narrow down what songs to put where, as they all have a place, in a sense, where they fit. Little Light was pretty easy, when it comes down to it! They all existed, plus some others, so the hardest part was figuring  which ones to put together.

CEV:  Were there any song(s) on Little Light that you were more proud of than the others?

AC:  Hmmm.. not really! :) I never really listen to myself, so, I'm proud of the whole thing and the work that went in to making all those songs!

CEV:  Do you have help in creating your music (engineers, other musicians etc) or are you a one woman kind of show?

AC:  I'm pretty much a one woman show when it comes to making music. I write the songs, sing, play, arrange, engineer, produce and mix them. I'm working with a band right now doing some really cool arrangements of songs that I've been doing solo for a long time, so that's a lot of fun!

CEV:  What do you listen to these days when you just want to relax and forget about things for awhile?

AC:  Fleet Foxes, Loreena McKennitt, Stevie Wonder, and Vampire Weekend have made me pretty happy lately. That's just a few. I have my entire iPod on shuffle with a ton of music I hadn't heard mixed with a bunch of older stuff. That's been a lot of fun.

CEV:  Do you ever feel like your music is a job that you have to do to survive or will it always be more than that to you? Why?

AC:  Music HAS to be more than a job I have to do to survive, cause it's not very lucrative. Thus, there must be a better reason to do it, or else, I wouldn't. I think that reason is that it's just who I am, and I live for it, one way or another. I can't say touring is my favourite - with all the cross-border headaches and airplane travel. Performing IS my favourite, though, so it's a tricky balance!

CEV:  With the advent of all the social networking sites and of the Internet in general how do you feel about the connections you have to your fans and potential markets around the world for your music?

AC:  I think the Internet and all of the social networking sites are priceless when it comes to the connections I have, and the world is basically one giant potential community. When it comes right down to it... the Internet makes the world a very small place, indeed.

CEV:  How much are you involved with the mixing and mastering of your music after the initial tracks are laid down?

AC:  I do it all, at this point. I record on to my laptop, and mix and master after recording all the initial tracks!

CEV:  What do you like about performing live in front of an audience? What do you take away from each show?

AC:  I love the connection and the reaction from the audience, and I take away that from every single show, in one way or another. Also, I always try to improve myself as I go!

CEV:  When you are covering another artist's songs what is it that you try to bring to the song to make it your own?

AC:  I just try to do the best that I can do with the song, and express how it makes me feel.

CEV:  Do you ever do collaborations with other writers on the songs that you write and if so how does that work compared to when you sit down to write a song yourself?

AC:  I've done a little bit of that, and it's an interesting experience and can be pretty fun, but, I really like writing on my own.

CEV:  From a singer/songwriter perspective what are your thoughts on the good and the bad of digital music and file sharing?

AC:  I think it's pretty much all good, from my perspective. I want to get my music out there, really, so the more people that hear me, the better!

CEV:  What is next for you and your music? Are there any goals you have for your career or things you'd like to try with your music that you haven't already?

AC:  I'm ready to do some more writing, and there are many things I'd like to try and experiment with musically! An orchestra perhaps?! Maybe at some point in the future. Who knows? 

CEV:  Thanks Allison. I'm glad that you were able to take time out to talk to me and I do wish you much success I the coming years. I hope to see you out there making your music for a long time to com.