By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON — When BeatRoute reached Doug Hoyer to discuss his new album Stepping Stone, a little Star Trek talk was unavoidable. A longtime fan of the show, Hoyer’s new album includes the track “My First Star Trek Convention.” The song is a playful glimpse into his solo day spent at a convention in Atlanta, GA, a quick drive away from his current home in Athens. The song is far from cryptic in describing Hoyer’s experience at the convention, including talking to Gates McFadden (TV’s Beverly Crusher) about her time as choreographer for the movie Labyrinth and what it was like to work with David Bowie. While the theme of this song implies that the entire record will be wistful and charming there are welcome moments of vulnerability.
The majority of Stepping Stone was recorded by Hoyer in Athens, GA, a city geographically disconnected from his comfortable collection of collaborators in Edmonton. “It felt a little more homemade than usual even though I do often record myself,” he explains. “Back home in Edmonton I could call someone up and ask them to do a part for a song. I’ve met musicians down here, just not in the same familiarity, so eventually I realized I could use my own skills and develop some new skills along the way. Instead of violins you get harmonica. Instead of a horn section, you’ll get some slide guitar.”
Another shift for Hoyer in creating the new album was aiming for more of a personal feel. The intention is noticeable in tracks like “Into the Wild,” which is a lovely ode to his wife, who works as a biologist. The song incorporates slide guitar and endearing imagery like feeding the cats to pass the time while she’s out in the wild working.
Within the desire to create a more personal record, Hoyer reveals his fear of the sound being too somber. “I was kind of worried that I’d be bumming people out. But after sending it to friends and hearing it’s the funniest record I’ve done… it makes me question a little bit what it is I made! I think it does reflect a wider range in my personality. I think it reflects who I am and where I am today.”
It may not be long before we get another record from Hoyer, who is currently finding work as an extra for film and television productions. Taking on the roles of different characters, he’s been inspired to tell the stories of these fictional people. “Working on Stepping Stone there were pieces that fit together and some that didn’t,” Hoyer recalls. “Working as an actor I began writing a bunch of songs from these perspectives that weren’t my own. I realized I had two different albums on my hands so my goal for the rest of the year is to finish writing this second record which will be called, Background Actor.”
It appears as though music is Hoyer’s primary focus but as he puts it, “music is a pretty enticing distraction.” Hoyer intends to direct his focus at the distance education program he’s currently enrolled in while preparing to move from Athens. “Our visas expire in August so legally we’ll have to leave,” he laughs. “We’re going to go wherever my wife finds work. It could be anywhere, you know? We’re just waiting on where life will take us.”
Doug Hoyer’s Stepping Stone release party happens Saturday, February 11th at 4 p.m. (free entry) at The Empress Ale House.AB, Alberta, Doug Hoyer, Empress Ale House, Stepping Stone