Thursday, November 7, 2013

Canadian singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell bringing intoxicating vocals to new album



By ERIC SCHELKOPF
 
With her intoxicating voice, Canadian singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell takes listeners on an adventurous journey on her debut full-length album, "Hunt and Chase."

I had the chance to talk to Bonnell, meganbonnell.ca, who performed in Chicago on Nov. 4, about her new album.


Q - Great to talk to you. Of course, your debut full-length album, "Hunt and Chase," was recently released. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals? Did you want to build on your EP, "Maps"?

I had spent the last two years leading up to the album, writing it. I had a bunch of songs that I knew really meant something to me and I felt ready to sit down to a create a full length album. 

During this time I was introduced to producers Chris Stringer and Joshua Van Tassel, who ended up producing my album. We sat down together and discussed the songs, the direction we wanted them to go. 

I feel as though the songs very much took their shape and color in post production. It's very stylized and atmospheric. 

There is a real mood around the album in its entirety. It's brooding, adventurous, unpredictable and heart felt. I think we really pushed ourselves musically and I feel really proud of that.

Q - The video for the song "Hunt and Chase" was filmed in your hometown of Caledon, Ontario. Was it important to you to make the video there? What was your vision for the video and does the video live up to your vision?

I think it just made sense. So much of the album is a sort of ode to Caledon. 


That place has defined me in such a huge way. I draw from it heavily, lyrically, so I think shooting the video there was a really natural thing to do. 

The song, "Hunt and Chase" really lent itself to the country landscape. It was loosely inspired by "Alice in Wonderland," so there is that playfulness as well as a bizarre kind of haunted element. 

The day we shot was super foggy and rainy and it really added to the overall feel.

Q - How do you think you fit into the Canadian music scene? What other Canadian acts have inspired you? 

The Canadian music scene is very intimate. Everyone really doing something is very well connected.

There is a real sense of community and comradery within it. There is so much good music coming out of Canada. It's a really innovative time here, musically I would say.  

Q - I understand you started teaching yourself piano when you were 4. Was it hard to learn? What drew you to the piano in the first place?   

I did. There was a big old piano is our basement and my sister took lessons. 


 

I was stubborn and refused to take lessons, but I wanted to be able to do what my sister did, so I would teach myself by ear the songs she played. At the time is was a real outlet for all the energy I had.

I would play everything extremely fast and hit the keys way too hard. It was so fun for me.

It wasn't until later on that I learned to be graceful when I play. 

Q - I also understand that you and your sister would listen to "I've Got Rhythm" on a record player owned by your grandparents and do the Charleston, and that your dad played The Beatles when you were growing up. How did those musical experiences shape your songwriting? 

Music was a huge part of our family. Some of the happiest moments in my life have been based around it.

I think music is one of the few things that has the power to transport you right back to a moment in time when you listened to a certain song. It's incredibly powerful.

You remember the feeling, the smell, your mood, the people. It's all so vivid and to think its all triggered by the coming together of sounds..it's so cool.  

Q - Are you looking to make more of a name for yourself in the United States? How would you say the U.S. music scene differs from the music scene in Canada?

With this album of mine in particular, I have been coming into the States a lot to play. I don't think that the music scene in the U.S. differs all that much from Canada. 

There is a lot of great music coming out of all corners of both countries. I do think that a lot of Canadian bands don't perform in the States as much due to U.S. immigration restrictions on musicians entering the U.S. to play.

It can be pretty tough. To some degree, we are somewhat forced to stay in our own little bubble up here. 

Q - What are your short-term and long-term goals?   

My main goal right now is to tour around the world promoting my new album "Hunt and Chase." I'm headed to Europe next week for my first European tour. I'm so excited! 

There is no greater joy to a musician than to play, and that's what I want to do...sing my songs.