By Keir Nicoll
Metric’s Emily Haines is a powerful and enigmatic voice in Canadian music. She staked out a place for herself in the realm of indie pop and rock with her alternative harmonies in Broken Social Scene, but with seven albums now under her belt as Metric’s leading lady, Haines has cemented her legacy as a powerhouse of conceptually oriented, visionary and poetic music for a generation.
“The thing is I don’t expect people to have been listening to all my records from the beginning, because people have other things to do, but this is what I’ve been doing all along,” Haines says on the phone from Kansas City where the band is currently on a co-headlining tour with fellow Canadian indie stars July Talk. “Even when I was a kid, the first drawing I drew was a picture of a huge square and below I wrote, ‘what’s wrong?’ then signed my name.”
Haines has always been one to acknowledge the existence of proverbial boxes and the act of thinking right outside them. It’s perhaps what drew her to Amy Milan and Kevin Drew at Toronto’s legendary Etobicoke School of the Arts. The friends eventually went on to form Broken Social Scene, who together developed their own long legacy in Canadian music, but Haines has been fighting that boxed in notion, shouting her prophecies from the rooftops alongside her trusted Metric bandmates for more than a decade.
“Well, that’s exactly it. What’s in the box? Nothing’s in the box,” she says. “There’s nothing new in my writing, though the through line has been the same. I think people are now a bit more aware of their lives and how the state of the world affects their personal lives. I haven’t changed the way I’m writing but people are thinking about it a little bit more, which is great. We can only have so many love songs.”
Haines recounts the visions captured on their most recent offering, Art of Doubt.
“I’d say Art of Doubt is coming to the revelation that everything good and meaningful in life comes from questioning not only yourself but also the world around you and constantly going toward what’s weakest in you,” she says. “It’s like with the title track — at its best, it’s all the art of doubt. It’s all we’re trying to do, never be full of shit.”
Haines is always getting people to think more about their lives, which is a vision she brings her talent to bear on, with poetic acuity. Her lyrics don’t shy from politics and what she sees in people and society, as she says, these are all a part of love, not just the trite love songs we are fed by the entertainment industry. She’s audibly excited about talking about her lyrics and music on this tour and her recounting of her interactions with people is heartfelt and genuine. She is impressed with how much people are taking in the words and ideas she is presenting.
“It’s just coming to the revelation that everything good and meaningful in life comes from questioning not only yourself but also the world around you and constantly going toward what’s weakest in you, not what is self-aggrandizing and growing some huge out-sized ego. Pursuing narcissism and vanity will rewarded infinitely in our culture but ultimately will lead to a very distracting fate.”
With their egos in check and their friends in tow, Metric are looking forward to creating more mindful music and bringing their sounds to life in a town near you for years to come.
Metric perform with July Talk on April 18 at the Pacific ColiseumArt Of Doubt, metric