Manitoba based folk singer Ingrid Gatin is following in the footsteps of what she calls the “prairie tradition” of making music.
A lifelong musician, Gatin brought her eclectic blend of folk, soul and indie music to the Music on the Mountain festival this past weekend at Fort St. James’ Murray Ridge ski area.
Born in Saskachewan, Gatin currently makes her home in Winnipeg as well as spending half of her time in Montreal with band mate Ryan Dupchak.
Currently on tour across Canada, Gatin and Dupchak stopped in at Music on the Mountain as one of their last stops before heading back east.
Gatin’s second time performing at Music on the Mountain, this year the duo played sets on both the opening night and Saturday afternoon.
Gatin’s performances were welcomed reprisals that brought soul and refinery to an otherwise fundamentally country-folk festival.
Gatin and Dupchak’s stage presence had the quiet charm of artists that are both hopeful their music will move and that need no reassurance that it will.
Musically, the duo transcend the normal boundaries of geography, demography, genre and age that fans so often shackle musicians with.
One of the most audibly noticeable things about Gatin and Dupchak’s music is the way it defies our notions of what a prairie artist should sound like, instead evoking a much more maritimes and eastern aura than expected.
Gatin and Dupchak blend their genre choices well making for something that plays out with fluidity but leaves us wondering where to place the genre in our categorical minds.
One of the unique things about their performance was its ability to capture the attention of the crowd. Gatin’s music is less raucous and rambunctious than her Music on the Mountain peers and yet despite the tipsy audience and rambling energy, Gatin took the stage and as she did so she seemed to quietly demand the attention and admiration of her audience.
Gatin’s latest album, 1000 Lives, is a departure from her previous work with a more stern and introspective feel that is less folksy and more exploratory than her previous, accordion laced tracks. The album was recorded and produced in Montreal by Arcade Fire alumni Howard Bilerman.
“I really wanted to work with someone on a production level that could explore different sounds and Howard had done work on a lot albums that I really liked,” said Gatin of teaming up with the Montreal based producer. “He ended up engineering, producing and playing drums on five of the tracks.”
Gatin credits her new sound with the freedom to explore her self musically.
“With 1000 Lives I was doing the album with Howard and I also received a grant from the Canada Council for their recording program, so I felt I could just have it be whatever kind of album I wanted it to be, I didn’t have to please anyone” she said. “I felt like I really explored some different artistic options and a lot of different sounds.”
Gatin and Dupchak’s presence at Music on the Mountain was muted in their modesty, they quietly deny any expectations of what they’re supposed to sound like while continuing to explore genres and personas. There is something both punk rock and crushing about Gatin’s music, perhaps found in its stubbornness and refusal to conform to any given definition.
Below is a full transcription of the Caledonia Courier’s interview with Ingrid Gatin.
Caledonia Courier: You recently worked on your album 1000 Lives with the Arcade Fire’s ex drummer Howard Bilerman,how did that manifest?
Ingrid Gatin: “I think when I first wanted to record my next album I really wanted to work with someone who could be on the production side and explore different sounds and Howard had worked on a lot of albums that I really liked so I contacted him and sent him a few demos and he really liked it and agreed to do it.”
CC: How does 1000 Lives differ from your previous works?
IG: “Well, I think 1000 Lives, because I was doing it with Howard and had received a grant from the Canada Council through their recording program, I felt I could just have the album be whatever kind of album I wanted it to be. I didn’t feel that I had to try to please anyone. I really feel like I explored some different artistic options that I may not have otherwise. For instance the first track on 1000 Lives is based off of a piece of poetry I wrote.”
CC: What has your creative process been like, is it structured, fluid?
IG: “It’s been pretty fluid recently. I’ve been doing most of my songwriting with Ryan Dupchak, which is great because Ryan is just kind of always playing instruments all the time. I’ll hear something and be like ‘oh, I like that’ and he’ll say ‘oh, you like that? Want to write a song?’ It’s been really fun; we bounce off of one another.”
CC: You have a very unique sound and style to your music, where does that sound come from and why are you compelled to make music?
IG: “I think because I’m such a huge music love. I’ve got such a big passion for music that when I hear music it makes me want to make music. I guess you just know as a song writer when something feels like home for you. You’re just like ‘oh, I love that.’ I want to create this sound because it intrigues me and it makes me want to be a good writer. I think we all just choose what really speaks to us.”
CC: Your current home of Winnipeg is often viewed as rough city but there is such a flourishing music scene there, why do you think the prairies have been so supportive of music and created so many great artists.
IG: “I grew up in the prairies so it made a lot of sense for me when I was starting to play music to be in WInnipeg. It’s a very supportive place musically, I think the prairies are in general. Everyone that I knew played music, I think it’s kind of a prairie tradition. In my home town, almost everyone I knew played music. I think there is a part of the prairies that is just musical; sitting at home through the whole winter and not having anything to do except to play cards and play music.”
CC: What do you hope that your listeners get from your music?
IG: “I hope that there is a mix of a romantic feel with some philosophical ideas. I think my biggest thing is making people feel something. A lot of the time there isn’t a time when we’re encouraged to just feel what we’re feeling, it’s actually kind of the opposite. I just really try to encourage people to feel.”
CC: When did you first know you wanted to be a musicians?
IG: I remember being really young and wanting to be a popstar. I played music all my life and when I moved to Winnipeg to study I joined a band called the magnificent seven who are a bluegrass band and from there I also started playing my own songs for people and people liked them so it just grew from there.”