Interview: Terra Lightfoot
Hitting Australian shores for the very first time, exuberant Canadian signer-songwriter, Terra Lightfoot, has just released her most ambitious record yet, ‘New Mistakes’. Chatting with Terra before she hit the Brisbane stage, we spoke about finding her musical soulmates, Australian audiences and embracing mistakes.
First time in Australia—how’s it been? How’ve the shows been?
It’s been amazing. I think we’ve been here for two weeks. All the shows have been good. We played two festivals and they were great. I’ve seen kangaroos and I’ve been stung by a blue bottle. I feel like I’m a real Australian.
How do you go playing in front of brand new faces each night on this Australian tour?
Well, William Crighton, who were are touring with, he is a very intense performer and although he is very different from me, I think the fans that he’s brought out to the shows have been very open to what we are doing. That’s what I found with all the audiences—people are just very open and receptive to our rock set. They are having fun and singing along, we really appreciate it.
Is that a surreal experience? People singing along to your songs, halfway around the world.
Oh sure. Of course it is. It’s a pleasure just to be here in the first place. I never thought I’d get to come to Australia, at all, let alone to play music.
Not long ago you released a live album. I really appreciated that because I feel like I’ve been seeing less and less live albums released. Do you kind of feel the same way too?
Yeah, I think people are shying away from them, it’s sort of an old school thing to do. You have to be really secure with yourself and your music to record a live set and then release it. I thought I would just get it out of the way early, so that I wouldn’t have to do it later. I feel like most people do it late in their careers, when they have a reason to. But we just wanted to get it out of the way.
What are some ways you convey your songs differently on a live stage, rather than on a recorder in a studio?
Oh, that’s a great question. I think it’s to do with my band—I bring the same band everywhere and they’re very, very talented players. When we play live, I can kind of do whatever I want and they’ll follow me. If I want to make an intro longer, or make the guitar solo crazy long, we can do that. I think there’s more space for just kind of spontaneity and doing things intuitively together—not really worrying about the structure of the song that we played on the record.
How long did it take to find your current band?
I had my drummer for my second record. But the band that I have now is not the same as any I’ve ever had before. It’s kind of like I’m hitting my stride, finding the best players that I wanted. I picked them because they all play exactly how I want, all the time. They play the notes how I want to hear them played. They know how to back me up in a way that elevates my music and my songs, in a way that I find appropriate. That’s a really beautiful and difficult thing to find.
I think in the music business it’s very easy to find so many talented people. Everyone’s talented. But, are they talented in the way that serves your music best? That’s the question that I’ve been asking. My guys are just perfect for me. It’s kind of like finding your soulmate or something. I’ve got my soulmates in my music.
You said, about this record, you don’t want to apologise for any of the mistakes. Could you elaborate on that?
Well there’s a silly little line in Stars Over Dakota—the guitar line, it sort of sounds almost like a carnival or circus. I thought that was a really funny mistake that I made, but the guys liked it so we left it.
Could you talk about your studio time with this new record? Is it all kind of built in one particular time and moment?
Some of the tunes we wrote in the studio. Two Hearts, I had half of it and then I kind of sat down at the piano with the bass player in the studio and we worked out the rest. The end part, the whole last movement of the song, wasn’t actually part of it until we were in the studio. I said I have this chord progression and I want it to belong in the song somewhere, but it just doesn’t go anywhere. We just tacked it on the end. I went loud with the vocal and I think it was one of the coolest parts of the record. It’s a cool part of our live show as well.