Ideas should shape the song: Q&A with musician Larra Skye

Larra Syke will perform tonight in Kemptville

Larra Skye is a singer/songwriter from Toronto.  She is a vegan, and lover of books and bicycles.  Her album of original music, The World Disappears, was named the #1 bestselling independent jazz album of 2006 by HMV Canada. She’s now recording her second album in June, and is currently touring the Ottawa and Montreal area.

Tell us a bit about how you found music.

It’s hard for me to imagine when music wasn’t a part of my life.  One day I decided to pick up the guitar and learn it (there was always a guitar in my house growing up).  I think I was around 11-years-old.  I started to learn classical guitar from the books in my parents’ bookstore, and I was listening to their music collection — Simon & Garfunkel, CSNY, and the Beatles.  From there, I started to write songs, formed a band, and performed in venues until I recorded my solo album, The World Disappears, with a team of people when I was 21.

How would you describe your sound?

It’s intimate, folk/pop, with some jazz influence.  It’s a mix of sounds that’s hard to define, but it’s definitely on the softer, mellow, side. Some people have said my voice reminds them of Feist, St. Vincent or Sarah Harmer.
We’re told you have  musical roots in Ottawa, can you tell us about that?

One of my first outdoor music festivals was in the Ottawa area when I was 19-years-old  (the now-defunct Women’s Voices Festival). We were about to drive there when the drummer’s car broke down, so my Mom actually drove us in her minivan all the way to Ottawa from Newmarket.  We arrived at the gig 15 minutes before going on stage. The crowd at the festival was lovely, appreciative — and all women. 
The next day, I remember driving into the city and seeing the Parliament buildings for the first time.  Took my breath away.

Photo Credit: Keidi Photo

Have you spent a lot of time in Ottawa since? What do you think?

I love Canada Day in Ottawa and, of course, Bluesfest.  My favourite restaurant in the entire world is in Ottawa: Zen Kitchen.  I was on tour last fall in Portland, Oregon, which is a mecca for vegans, and I would still choose Zen Kitchen over all the food I tried there, and I love the fact that they have many non-vegan fans.  Their food is accessible to everyone.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming album?

It’s called Wishing Tree and it’s going to be produced by Marc Rogers, who has worked as a bassist and/or producer with Canadian artists Sarah Harmer, Justin Hines, and the Philosopher Kings, among others.  We made some demos last fall that I put online, and I’ve started a pre-orders page to help fund some of the recording costs.
We start recording next month — it’s a very exciting time!
I’m also writing a French song for my new album with a songwriter who resides in Ottawa — Marcel Aymar, from the Franco-Ontarian group CANO.

Who are your favourite musicians? Who inspires you?

Photo Credit: Keidi Photo

There are so many.  I love Joni Mitchell and Aimee Mann. And Mark Lanegan and Leonard Cohen.  This week, I’ve been listening to P.J. Harvey’s new record, some Janis Ian, and Donovan.  I love all music, from classical to hip-hop.

Where are you hoping to take your career?

I’d really like to tour in Europe once the new album is out next fall.  In five years I hope to have released a few more albums/EPs, continuing to make music and write new material.  In ten years I’d like to be producing other artists as well.  I’ve always loved the recording and production side of making an album, trying new sounds and ideas to shape the song.

Larra Skye will be performing a solo acoustic concert TODAY at The Branch in Kemptville (15 Clothier Street).  For reservations, call 613-258-3737. And it’s FREE admission, and opens at 7 p.m.