What is your names?
I’m Kim Barlow. The people in my band, who played on the record are:
Producer/drummer Mark Adam, bass Nicholas D’Amato, guitar Joel Leblanc, backup vocals Heather Kelday and Old Man Luedecke, additional guitar Justin Haynes
What is your genre of music?
Contemporary folk. Also, experimental, pop, rawk.
Give us a little bio about you.
“World travelling, multi-award nominated Kim Barlow is relaunching her musical life in Nova Scotia after many years in the Yukon and a recent parenting hiatus. Creative and intelligent writer of songs, skillful on guitar and clawhammer banjo, Barlow has recorded six albums of her own work and many collaborations. Her newest recording, How To Let Go, features some of the East Coast’s best: Mark Adam on drums, Nicholas D’Amato on bass, special guests including Old Man Luedecke, and strong new songs about domestic minutiae, the larger picture, and a wild slant on some traditional Maritime tunes.”
What made you go in to music?
My grade 4 music teacher, Nancy Kelly, and my Mom, when I was ten. I studied classical guitar and won competitions and stuff, got a scholarship to do my BA in Music. Then I moved to the Yukon and started playing banjo and it all went sideways from there – Whitehorse was a musically nurturing community and I was encouraged a lot to perform, and I started writing songs and then recording etc.
Are you a signed?
I used to be on the Caribou Records label in the Yukon but they shut down, now self-released.
You released your new single ‘ Whitehorse’,tell us more about it.
I used to live in Whitehorse, Yukon, and we moved away five years ago. I miss it! So I wrote about being from NS, going north, and then coming back. It’s an experience shared by a lot of Maritimers – the going away, often for work, and missing home and eventually coming back. And living in the north is an intense experience. I made all my best-friends-for-life there. So, had to write it all down, to say Thank You to that time & place.
What was the writing process like?
I don’t really remember – it was a blurry time, with twin toddlers and not much music. I’d go to my work space after they were asleep and write quietly, trying to keep thinking of myself as a musician even though I was mostly taking care of my family all the time. Now they’re in school, I feel more like myself, the fog is lifting.
What was the recording process like?
Having recently moved to NS, I’m just getting to know musicians here. I met Mark Adam and started recording with him. He’s an extremely accomplished musician and percussion prof at Acadia U, and he was really supportive. His big production ideas on my fledgeling songs got me fired up to start taking my work seriously again. Parental leave is great, and hard. Recording was just the thing – Listening and picking apart the material, arranging, watching the songs take shape. Recording can sometimes be too internal and self-absorbed, but in this case it was better than just throwing myself back on stage. It gave me some clear intent with the songs.
What is the message you want listeners to take from the single?
I want them to feel the bittersweet and recognize it in their own experiences. It’s a reckoning with all the unresolvable complexities that build up in a lifetime of relationships with other humans; loves, breakups, closeness, distance – it’s beautiful and it’s hard.
Describe the track in two words.
Will we see a music video for ‘Whitehorse’?
For sure – it’s such a road-trip kind of song, it will be really fun to make the video for this one.
Will we see a EP or Album this year?
Album is out now! “How To Let Go”, up on Bandcamp, Spotify, etc.
Do you have gigs coming up or a tour in planning?
Yes, close to home and then further later.
If so where are you thinking of heading?
’ll be doing shows around the Maritimes in the near future – the Carelton in Halifax Dec. 6; and a tour with Wax Mannequin through the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario in March. And then festivals next summer.
What else can we expect from you this year?
A few videos, lots of live shows, some new collaborations I hope.
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any up coming artists?
I’m really looking forward to the tour with Wax Mannequin. He’s a strange brilliant mind from Hamilton Ontario. We wrote a song together once in Berlin, so I’m hoping some more songs will tumble out on tour. I have lots of other collaborations brewing in my mind – some to do with the field recordings of Maritime tunes collected by Helen Creighton in the 1940s. Very fired up creatively right now!
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Sure, depending? They would have to contact…me!
Do you play any instruments?
clawhammer banjo, guitar, sometimes cello, and these days I am teaching ukulele, so I’m getting pretty good at that, too.
Who are your influences?
Early influences: Andres Segovia, the L.A. Guitar Quartet (I was a classical guitar student!)…then Mary Margaret O’Hara, Veda Hille, John Prine, Fourtet, a lot of different genres of music….
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Listening to great music. Reading. The news, my kids, having a feeling, and the challenge of trying to encapsulate it in a 3-minute musical form that translates for other people.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I hope I’m playing the hell out of a lot of good music with great musicians and it’s reaching some enthusiastic ears, and balancing that with my family, the garden, and the beach.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
The garden and the beach, with my family. And I teach music, and I’m a little bit obsessed with canning – jams and pickles.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
Good question! I don’t know if there was one particular song that did that. When I first moved to the Yukon, my friend Betsy Sims from Alaska dragged me up on stage to sing backups and play guitar with her. That was what started it all. So maybe her song, the Haines Song.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
I’ve been given a lot of good advice that I totally ignored over the years! Probably the best advice that has finally started to sink in is that this work is not about talent or your “natural gift” – that’s a tiny fraction of it, and 98% is just hard work and keeping at it.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Get over yourself! Especially women – confidence comes from putting your head down and working hard. When you know you’ve made something good, it’s a lot easier to convince other people to listen. It’s hard work but push that self-doubt aside, sister. It’s okay to take up some space.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Lately – Veda Hille’s instructions, “Stay light, go deep.”
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
There are a lot of great places around here, hard to choose! Lot of gorgeous beaches, but I guess the one place I always take visitors is The Lookoff – at the top of the North Mountain, overlooking the Annapolis Valley – you can see the rolling hills, farmer’s fields, apple orchards, the Minas Basin. Must go.
Your coming off tour;
Tricky one – I haven’t been on tour in five years, since my twins were born! When I get back from the spring tour, though
1/ Where do you go first?
probably straight to bed, exhausted
2/ Who do you see first?
my babies (not really babies, they’re five now)
3/What do you eat first?
something to detox from bad road food, probably – miso soup and spinach gomaae
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
1. take ten minutes before the show to be alone and get focused. It’s often hard to make this happen but it helps A LOT.
2. thank the sound person
3. um, the words
4. don’t close my eyes the whole time!
5. try to be real and don’t be boring.
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?