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Movies Made for Music at the Vancouver International Film Festival

Movies Made for Music at the Vancouver International Film Festival

By Paris Spence-Lang VANCOUVER – VIFF is one of those perennial events that seems to get better every year. “It’s…

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CITY & COLOUR the life of an artist isn’t always a peaceful road

Sunday 02nd, April 2017 / 16:28
By Johnny Papan

Holding on to the love of the artform remains easy for Green even when the work gets hard.
Photo by Alysse Gafkjen

Dallas Green is one of the most well-known contemporary Canadian artists working today. Originally gaining notoriety as the guitarist and clean vocalist of Ontario’s post-hardcore quintet Alexisonfire, Green made a complete stylistic change when he released his first solo record, Sometimes, in 2005 as City & Colour. This acoustic-folk project would soon become Green’s main act, releasing a total of five albums thus far, each more evolved than the last.

Green’s soulfully somber voice often sings lyrics of a melancholic nature, including themes of love, death and self-reflection. “I guess I’ve always used songwriting to kind of ruminate with things in life that I’m trying to work through,” Green explains. “I think when it comes to life and death, those are the two certainties we know in this world. Hopefully between those two things you get to experience love in your life, whether it’s with your family, significant other or yourself.”

City & Colour recently released two new tracks — “Peaceful Road” and “Rain” — which were originally tracked for his 2015 release, If I Should Go Before You, but he decided they didn’t quite fit his vision for that specific record. “I still really liked the songs and wanted people to hear them so I just kind of put them out on their own.”

When asked if over the years songwriting has ever come to feel like “work,” Green responds: “It’s hard to call this work because it’s something I love to do. I’ve had jobs before; this is much different. Does it get hard? Yes, sometimes very much so.”

One of the difficulties Green cites is lack of financial support put forth by major streaming services. “You’re kind of stuck as an independent artist because streaming is how most people listen to music nowadays, but those services don’t really pay the artists. It’s a double-edged sword because you want people to listen to your songs,” he says. “Most people would rather pay five bucks for a coffee from Starbucks every morning than pay a dollar for a song they could keep forever. But as a singer-songwriter I just have to go with that.”

Making a living on album sales alone has become nearly impossible in this digital age. To maintain stability, musicians must tour regularly. Though Green confirms his enjoyment of travelling and touring, he admits it’s not always a glamorous experience, even for artists as notorious as himself. “I like touring; thankfully, people are coming to shows. Sometimes you get to visit these beautiful buildings, and other times you walk into a bar that smells like puke and you don’t get to shower.”

Green is unsure what his career would be like if he had began in 2017, as opposed to 16 years prior. His only advice to upcoming artists is to be honest. “I just write these songs for myself. If I can make myself happy, at least a little bit at first, then maybe someone after that can listen and take whatever they need from it. All I ever did was try to write music that I like and hope that people would get it.”

Green will be doing a solo tour as City & Colour across British Columbia, covering 11 cities in April. “This year I’m trying to spend a lot of time going to places I’ve never been,” Green states. “It’s a chance to go out and play, see if there’s anybody out there willing to hear me sing. Mix things up a little bit; I like doing that.”

City & Colour perform on April 6 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

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