I approached David Simard, an avant-garde Canadian folk singer, to do a simple interview and he so kindly agreed. And, even though Simard is a relative newcomer, for the past two years the Canadian press has been touting him as one of the best. I happen to agree and you will too once you’ve read this interview and listened to his new album, Slower, Lower.
CFM: When and how did you first become interested in music? How long have you been playing music? Have you always wanted to be a musician/singer-songwriter?
DS: I was always singing and telling stories as a kid. At a certain age I started writing these stories out. Like a lot of people, I took piano lessons for a while and then quit as soon as my parents let me. When I was twelve, I taught myself to play the guitar and the rest came together so naturally that I haven’t looked back since.
CFM: How does it feel to have your first album out and into the hands of the public?
DS: It’s a great relief, actually. I felt like I was carrying so many songs in me that I was kind of choking on them. I’d joke to other songwriters that there were too many goddamn kids in the house and that I couldn’t wait for them all to move out, get a life of their own, and maybe make some space for a new brood. I’m happy with how the album sounds, and I hope that the songs do well for
CFM: You have been named in Canadian publications as one of the Best Folk Acts of 2009 and Best Singer-Songwriter of 2010, how has this affected you personally and professionally? Has it added any pressure?
DS: It was really encouraging to see that there was a community of people in Montreal actually taking some notice of me. Other than that, it’s just been good press!
CFM: How would you describe your music and songwriting style?
DS: Hmm… I might leave that question to you and the others reading this, April!
CFM: Slower, Lower contains many different styles, tempos, and instrumentations. Why all of the variety?
DS: It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision. Like I said before, there were a lot of songs waiting for this record so the album itself spans about six years worth of songs. Most of them are more recent than that, but there are a few that have hung on throughout some very different periods in my life. Gives it a larger sort of landscape, I think.
CFM: Describe Slower, Lower. What inspired the album? What was your creative process like while making and recording the album?
DS: Slower, Lower was actually our mantra during the recording process. I’d been playing with the Da Da’s for over a year so we didn’t have to think much about the song structures or arrangements too much. We just decided to try to find the tempo and the key where the songs really dug in, which inevitably had us saying, “Well, let’s try it a little slower, a little lower too, maybe.” A lot of the songs stayed where they were originally, but a few really came to life when we had them in the right place.
CFM: What motivates you to write, record and perform?
DS: Writing is a necessity for me – singing as well, but I don’t often write just for myself. The idea of an audience changes things. Something that’s being observed takes on a very different quality than it had before. I’m fascinated with that concept and how it relates to songwriting. So, the writing generally comes from a very personal place, then it becomes conscious of itself, and then it has to run it’s natural course by being recorded and performed for an audience.
CFM: What’s next for you?
DS: Well… The album is out now and I’m kind of cheering it on from the sidelines. The Winter months should be calm ones, and when the Spring comes I’m planning to move into my family’s shack in Northern B.C. For the summer, I’ll be chasing the Canadian festival circuit around the country.