By Sarah Kitteringham
BeatRoute.ca is proud to present “Stolen Song,” the sixth track from Rae Spoon’s latest album, Armour, which releases February 19th via Coax Records. They state about the track: “A couple of years ago, a band put out a music video with a gender variant protagonist. I felt like the portrayal only perpetuated stereotypes about trans/gender-diverse people. It really upset me because no one in the band or the actor was gender-variant/transgender. It felt like my identity was being treated like a costume to make the band appear more interesting. Then I realized that there are a lot of these examples in the music/arts industry. I have also mistakenly appropriated culture from other people. ‘Stolen Song’ is a call to folks, including myself, to stop using identities that don’t belong to us in our art. Musically, the song is upbeat and has some great drum programming by Berlin artist Alexandre Decoupigny. I wanted it to sound optimistic and positive.” Listen to “Stolen Song” below and scroll down to read Sarah Kitteringham’s interview with Rae Spoon.
CALGARY — “I had this moment where I went ‘where do I go after this revelation?’”
It’s a question that prominent Canadian indie pop musician Rae Spoon levelled at theirself following the release of the deeply personal, harrowing and gorgeous 2013 documentary and soundtrack My Prairie Home. The film conceptually chronicles the life of Spoon; their devoutly religious upbringing in small town Alberta under a schizophrenic, Evangelical Christian father and experience with gender dysphoria, interlaced with visually arresting music videos. In their 15 years as an active musician, Spoon has transformed their sound and location, emerging as a country roots artist in Calgary. They now reside in Victoria and their music converges pop, indie and electronica. They’ve released albums constantly while becoming a figurehead in the LGBTQ community and beyond for their advocacy and authenticity.
“When My Prairie Home came out, it ended up going more places than I expected,” they elaborate. “I was thinking a lot about acceptance. For trans people.”
For those confused by the pronoun, Spoon prefers the term “they” to avoid being labelled as male or female.
“For trauma, for whatever happens to you and wherever you are, you still need to live your life after.”
The result of continuing on is Spoon’s brand new album, the sublimely beautiful Armour. The 10-track record is a continuation of the precocious 2012 full-length I Can’t Keep All Our Secrets, a stark contrast to the acoustic folk of My Prairie Home’s soundtrack. Inside are deeply evocative, rich lyrics alongside cascading synths, contrasting guitar, clacking drums, the gentle coo of Spoon’s soft, sweet voice, and the occasional cello accompaniment. With drum programming from long-term collaborator Alex Decoupigny, the troubadour wrote the album in Montreal, Victoria and Calgary.
“Armour was more coming to terms with all of these things that I’d been discussing. But I also wanted it so that it could be armour for other people [in whatever situation] they find themselves in. I didn’t want it to be so personal, or at least so specific. It was just the feeling of growing armour, if you need armour, and just those boundaries,” they continue.
While lyrically it’s not as personal, musically the album is more so. Rather than have an outside producer, Spoon decided to take the reigns.
“That was my way of making myself responsible to my sound. You know? It was scary; because I had final say on everything. I want to produce other people’s albums, so I thought I should produce my albums myself before I offer to produce other people’s albums.” Spoon giggles and continues, “There [were] more hardware things, more analog synths, I got a lot more into my guitar sounds. I used different guitars…. I gave myself more permission to experiment with the sound. The goal with the instruments was not to do electronic programming, but to have it sound more organic. I wanted it to be hard to tell what was being played by a guitar or drum kit versus a drum machine or synth. So I was trying to blend those roles, and that specifically helped me really get into it.”
While Spoon has had an intensely prolific half-decade (in addition to My Prairie Home’s film and soundtrack, they wrote and/or contributed to two novels), Armour marks a difference in volume of output (at least for the near future).
“I realized I really like writing songs and so I decided to focus on that. That’s what I’m doing now – making records.”
They conclude: “Because after all that, I was like, ‘Okay, you know, I would love to make another big project one day, but the nice thing about songs is that they are so short.’ You know? You just get onstage and play them, and people like them or they don’t, then they are over.”
Rae Spoon will headline an album release party for Armour in Calgary on February 16th at the Ironwood. Spoon will also perform at The Mercury Room in Edmonton on February 17, at Le Relais in Saskatoon on February 18th, at OUT Saskatoon on February 19th, and at the Good Will in Winnipeg on February 20th. Armour will be released via Coax Records on February 19th.AB, Alberta, Armour, Good Will Social Club, Ironwood Stage & Grill, Le Relais, Manitoba, MB, Mercury Room, OUT Saskatoon, Rae Spoon, Stolen Song