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Interview: Land Of Talk

After releasing their last album back in 2010, Land Of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell planned on taking a short break to work on a solo album. After a series of events over the course of seven years, including her computer crashing and deleting a whole album’s worth of demos and her father suffering from a stroke, Land Of Talk is back, stronger than ever with their new album ‘Life After Youth’. We had a chat with Elizabeth about her life over the past seven years, the impact it has had on her music and what we can expect in the future.

You’re just about to release your first album since 2010, what’s been happening?

A lot of life living–I left my musical town in Montreal and headed back to my hometown north of Toronto, which is six hours away. I went from a big city back to a small town thinking maybe I would put my head down and making a solo record. But instead my laptop crashed, so I lost everything that would have been on the solo record, so that was pretty discouraging. So after that I ended up looking to different ways to fill my time and became a baker for a while and just took a bunch of odd jobs. Unfortunately during this time my father suffered a stroke, and it wasn’t until his recovery and during our time reconnecting after his stroke that we spent a lot of time listening to music, and that kind of brought me back to my own musical life. It’s hard to break all of that time, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.

When you say that you lost everything on the laptop, did the computer just completely crash or did something happen with the recording program?

Well I was recording everything on GarageBand and one day GarageBand just wasn’t there. The file had completely disappeared along with all my recordings and about fourteen demos. I’m not super prolific, so it would have probably ended up being a ten song album had I not lost them. But mind you, a lot of the melodies and chord progressions, they were still in my muscle memory, so they were still sort of floating around in my brain, so when it came time to write again on the keys, a lot of those melodies came out. So in a way I feel like the solo stuff snuck its way onto the new Life After Youth album.

So with everything that happened to you in those seven years, how much of an impact do you think it had on your music and the way you write?

Completely. The way I approach lyrics, I think my earlier approach was to make things quite abstract and I would try to distort the vocal, even in terms of the recording quality. I like and found comfort with my lyrics being more obscure and difficult to decipher, whereas this record is an attempt for me to be clearer, even my vocal quality. Also, with my lyrics, they are a lot clearer, and I find that I’m trying to get to the core more of what I’m actually feeling. With my earlier work I think I was more trying to get lost in the music, and now I think I’ve found myself, so I’m trying to reach out with my music and make more of a connection.

When you came back to start writing and recording after being away from it for so long, did it feel strange or did it come back naturally?

It was super natural, I think that enough time had run its course and any feelings that I had about wanting to stay away or avoid going back to the studio, any of those fears just melted away once the body of songs started to emerge. I think it was after my Dad’s stroke when I saw how the music was working on him and how it was working its magic with me, so I was naturally inspired to write again. It was just time. If anything, I just wasn’t forcing anything for seven years, when I came back I wanted it to be a sure thing. It just took me a long time to come back and make this record I guess.

How does your Dad like the new album?

He totally likes it. So when he was still in recovery in hospital I would just bring his demos. This one time I bought him a demo which was essentially just me looping the guitar with the verse chord progressions and I was just humming the melody and repeating the lyric, “I don’t want to waste it this time,” which had been harmonised a little bit on GarageBand. He just really responded to that, and so that’s when I started taking all the demos to him and playing him little excerpts of everything, and seeing him get excited about them is what encouraged me to keep going with it. So I really used him as my sounding board.

The album is coming out in about a week and a half.

Oh my gosh yeah, finally! I’ve been anticipating the countdown with the singles coming out each month, but I can’t believe it’s almost here.

Yeah it’s real close now, how are you feeling about the release Are you nervous at all?

I think, if anything, it’s more of a relief, like I can finally let go of the reigns and unleash ourselves. I’m so excited to get out there and play all these songs live.

How have people been responding to the singles that you’ve shared from the album?

So far the response from the singles has been really positive–overwhelmingly so. If I didn’t feel grateful and lucky to have the fan base I had already from seven years ago, the fact that I can come back and everyone is still there is amazing. I turned the Facebook page back on and everyone was still leaving comments with so much support. It’s been so overwhelming. Even just based on our pre-orders that all sold out within a couple weeks, so I’m just so excited to back and play to all the towns where I started and be able to say thank you to everyone for waiting.

You’re touring around America and Canada later this year. When you were on the hiatus, I’m guessing you didn’t play live at all?

Not really. Well, I played for my best friend’s wedding, so I would play personal stuff and very small things. I used to play at the bakery where I worked, my boss was so supportive and really championed me and my music. She’d basically be like, “Okay you’re done baking now, it’s time for you to go play some music.” She was so encouraging and would set up shows for me. But I didn’t play anything to do with Land Of Talk, I still was engaging in music and playing it, but I wasn’t making it a Land Of Talk endeavour.

It must be exciting to be able to go back on tour then.

Yeah it really is. I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to go on tour. Usually it’s the opposite but it’s a lot more meaningful this time around.

Would you ever come tour Australia?

Man I wish–I’ve always asked for some kind of Australasia tour! Every band that I’ve spoken to that has toured Australia has absolutely loved it, so I would love to. If I was given the chance, absolutely yes.

So once you’ve finished with the tour and the album release has cooled off a bit, what are you plans for after that?

I’ve actually got a whole new record on the go. I was super backed up, now I’m like we’ve got to get another album recorded stat. We joke, we’re like, “Anyone up for summer recording?” So we want to rent some sort of summer beach house. I think the idea now is to just keep it going at a nice sustainable pace and we’re looking into a fall tour and some summer festivals and recording another record. So as long as people are listening then I would love to just continue to making music.

Written by Emily Mathison