By Paul Rodgers
CALGARY – Jodie Bruce, who goes by the artist name of Jodie B., is a lifelong musician.
At the precocious age of three, her father started both her and her older sister Nicque on music, at first via the harmonica. Though she’s only been creating music under her solo alias for two and half years, she has been busking and playing in a family band as long as she can remember. She’s spent her life playing accordion, mandolin, violin, trumpet, piano, guitar, bass, harmonica, and singing.
As a solo artist who incorporates elements of blues, hip-hop, EDM, indie, and folk rock into a sexy, groovy package, Bruce’s setup and approach to writing has been in a state of constant evolution since she began writing her own songs and performing live.
“I think every time I perform I learn something,” says Bruce.
“Honest to God, I think every time I perform something slightly changes in my performance, so whether it’s a crowd in front of nobody or a few hundred people or even bigger, I’m always learning something especially when I meet other artists and I’m collaborating and picking their brains apart.”
She describes starting out with just a loop pedal and then playing all her instruments through that, performing as a one-woman band.
“Since then I’ve just been trying to tweak it step by step.”
She moved from an acoustic guitar to an electric and added a cajón for percussion (it’s a Peruvian box-shaped percussive instrument). She has since moved on to a drum rack from Ableton Live. She says she is still learning all the idiosyncrasies of the Ableton software but is very captivated by it and plans to record and produce with it in the near future.
“Ideally my goal is to keep live production with live entertainment,” Bruce explains.
“So produce and make all my own music and produce and make all the drums in Ableton but then also perform live on top of it with my guitar, bass, violin, harmonica, sing, and play keys and sounds, whatnot through a MIDI controller through Ableton.”
Bruce has numerous shows impending, including some festival stops. For those performances, she will be keeping her current setup, and then post-summer she will begin the reinvention process once more.
As well as Astral Harvest, she will also be performing for the second time at Shambhala Music Festival this August. She has attended the festival as a ticket-holder since 2009 and was “absolutely ecstatic” to get the chance to play it.
“It was still one of the best moments of my life so far,” she says, gushing.
Playing the festival gave her a big push to take her songwriting to the next level.
“I think in the beginning, I was just writing songs as a form of release, ever since I was a child, at times when things got tough I would just write and write and write, and so I started shaping them into songs and basically Shambhala in 2015 was my deadline of like ‘okay, I need 45 minutes of original material.’”
She says this year she is more focused on critiquing her sound and trying to take her audience for more of a journey and developing herself as a live entertainer, as well as a songwriter.
She had a huge moment of inspiration recently in May when she was in Los Angeles to play the art, car, and music oriented festival known as Boogaloo.
“Everyone that we were camped with and everyone I met, they were just incredible musicians and people that just want to create and share the same passion,” she describes.
In addition to her busy music schedule, Bruce makes time to give guitar lessons. She’s also a journeyman Scaffolder, but says she is definitely shooting to making music her full-time career, and seeing others doing the same at the festival was hugely motivating.
“That definitely inspires me when I see people like that just giving it their all,” she says. “Following their dreams and not being stuck in a mundane kind of lifestyle.”
Jodie B. plays at Vagabond on July 6 to July 10 (Calgary). She performs July 15 at Astral Harvest Music & Arts Festival (near Driftpile, Alberta) and at Shambhala Music Festival, which runs August 11 to August 14 (near Nelson, British Columbia).Astral Harvest Music & Arts Festival, Jodie B, Shambhala Music Festival, Vagabond