May. 16, 2012 - Issue #865: Road Trips
Nothing’s gonna stop him now
JP Hoe discusses the making of his latest album, Mannequin
Mannequin, the new album from Canadian singer-songwriter JP Hoe, is a collection of tunes with a melancholic edge accompanied by sharp lyrics and bold ideas. Prior to his stop in Edmonton, Hoe filled Vue Weekly in on some of the details of the making of the record.
VUE WEEKLY: How long did it take to make Mannequin from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
JP HOE: All in all it took roughly three years. That's when I wrote "Conversation" with Luke Doucet, and the bulk of the batch of songs arrived that first year and a half. Then, it took another half a year to acquire enough funds, then another year to record, send and receive mix feedback and finally settle on art work.
VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them in a particular way?
JPH: Generally, I love approaching songs music first. I'll have a rhythmic melody caught in my head for days. The first chance I have to grab a guitar and figure out what the melody is I will. Then, once I figure what the tone of the song is, I usually steal a moment from someone else's life, make it my own and write it down in a relatable situation to listeners. I only have a handful of songs lyrics first, but I have such a difficult time doing so.
VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album?
JPH: The recording sessions were smooth. We tried to leave no stone unturned and approached each song from a few angles until we found the one we wanted to keep. Some started as a live-off-the-floor band track, but they didn't fit. We chose to rely less on a "band" and focus more on individual elements and building a song from the ground up. We added tiny moments here and there and I think we achieved the most singer-songwriter record in my discography yet. I should note, we faithfully followed the heavy incorporation of strings like Elliot Smith, Aimee Mann or the Beatles have. That's why I'm bringing a cellist and violinist on tour, to try and capture as much of the record as possible.
VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
JPH: We had a batch of 25 songs, then whittled them down to 15—they were a best of. Then we demoed all 15 and tried to figure out which 11 would suit to create a "journey" on the record. I'm an album music fan and really wanted to make sure that people could start at track one and make it to the end. That's so important.
VW: Did you have an idea of what you wanted Mannequin to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
JPH: All I knew is that I wanted the record to sound cohesive and focused. I wanted to showcase the different pop aspects that influence me, but ultimately could fit well together. As it turns out, the record is a darker, melancholic offering, with a few light moments. The song selection helped that, but it wasn't a particular goal. We thought, these 11 songs work really well together. Or maybe I wanted to give people a good cry. I guess I'm like Oprah in that way.
VW: If you were to trace the musical map that led you to Mannequin what would it look like?
JPH: I would say it started on the acme of a mountain, coming off of the Jann Arden cross Canada tour and a couple of Western Canadian Music Award nominations. Then off a cliff into a wooded valley, a bit lost and trying to figure out which direction I wanted or needed to go in. Finally, I found a path that gave me confidence to try and reach my goals, climbed through the Fred Penner log and arrived in a good place emotionally and better prepared than ever to achieve the next set of goals. V
Fri, May 18 (7 pm)
With Poor Young Things, Go For the Eyes
Haven Social Club
$10 (advance), $12 (door)
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