In our time doing the Americana Around the World segment we’ve talked to artists from far-flung places such as Norway, Great Britain, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands, but we haven’t focused on our northern neighbors yet. Senior Editor Tim W. Jackson touched base with Canadian musician Jeremie Albino to talk a bit about music north of the border.
1) Having a wife who grew up in Jamestown, NY, and who then lived a number of years in Rochester, NY, I know that there’s a substantial overlap of Canadian-U.S. culture along that border area of Lake Ontario. So what can you tell me about growing up on the Canadian side, in Toronto, and what music was influencing you in your youth?
I can’t say I listened to too much radio when I was younger, I think the first CDs I bought were John Lee Hooker and a B.B. King greatest hits. I was really into a lot of blues and old folk songs and any of the Smithsonian Folkways recordings. But I kind of listened to a bunch of stuff … Motown, James Taylor … I was really into Feist growing up and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Harry Belafonte, Nora Jones, Neil Young. It’s kind of all random. Ha ha.
2) What went into your decision to move from a major metro area like Toronto to rural Prince Edward County? (And U.S. audiences should be clear that Prince Edward County is also on Lake Ontario east of Toronto and is not the same thing as Prince Edward Island, which is off the coasts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.)
At the time I was really into gardening and growing food and was working on a lot of farms. I found this farm out here that used to sell at my favorite farmers market. I thought I’d hit them up and see if they needed help. I was just volunteering at first. I just got along with everyone so well, I ended up coming back working full-time the year after. Other than making music and touring, I haven’t really left since.
3) Sticking with Prince Edward County, if I was to come from the U.S. South to see you for a day, what would be on the list of stuff to see and do?
Let’s say it’s a summer visit:
1. Go for a swim. Prince Edward County is actually an Island. It’s not too hard to find a good spot to swim!
2. Stop by a couple farm stands and pick up some good veggies for dinner, so many good farms around here!
3. Grab a poutine at the local chip truck for a quick snack. The most delicious snack!
4. Pick up some drinks! This area is known for the wineries, cideries, and breweries. Honestly so many to pick from, you can’t really go wrong!
5. Come to my house, make some delish dinner, have some drinks and a bonfire.
4) Sounds great. I’ll be up there as soon as I can. 😉 As someone who is in the U.S. often, you may get a feel for what Canadian artists are well-known in the U.S. But who are some Canadian artists who have not made a name for themselves in the U.S. but who we should know about?
I can’t really say I know what people stateside have been listening too, often a lot of folks from the U.S. don’t even realize some Canadian acts are Canadian. I can name some of my favorite Canadian bands though. One of my faves from the East Coast is a band called Les Hay Babies. Another favorite, I know I might be biased because he’s a close friend but this project called Ten Kills the Pack is really great. It’s kind of like sad/happy folk. I love everything he puts out. Keep an eye out on that guy he’s gonna blow up.
5) Let’s talk specifically about your music for a bit. You’re often described as “country blues” but listening to your album Hard Time, you can hear that plus a whole lot more. “Last Night,” for instance, has a rockabilly feel that I love. “The Cabin,” meanwhile, is such a sweet, gentle song. So how do you typically describe your music?
It’s hard to say. I’ve always had a hard time describing it since there’s a wide variety of musical colors on this record. I was kinda scared at when I was first putting out this record I thought people might think it’s kind of all over the place. I used to say country blues because that’s mostly what I did at the time, but once I really started putting this record together, I realized there’s quite a bit of different flavors. I’m still not too sure what to say, since there’s all these different genres. But in the end the thread that passes through all of them is me, my voice, and my songs. I guess you can just take that as it is.
6) I know that Hard Time was recorded in both Nashville and Toronto. What can you tell us about recording that album and the collaborators involved? (For more about making the album, you can view Hard Time: The Making of The Album on YouTube.)
I had been working on all the songs for about a year before getting in the studio with my manager/collaborator Crispin Day and my band the Rosehall Band, just kind of demoing and getting songs ready. Then we finally went down to Nashville and recorded with Andrija Tokic down at the Bomb Shelter Studio. Andrija had worked on so many of my favorite records and bands … Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Deslondes. We drove down there with the Rosehall Band and we had a blast. We recorded for a couple weeks with great players, Casey Wayne McAllister playing keys, Eleonore Denig doing some amazing string arrangements, some amazing vocals by Maureen Murphy and Nickie Conley. It was a pleasure working with all these amazing musicians and producers.
7) Like all other musicians, you obviously haven’t been touring recently. So what have you been doing with your time for the past couple of months?
I’ve been pretty busy trying to kind of keep up with this changing world of no touring. Live streaming, shooting content … just trying to keep the ball rolling and stay positive and creative. I’ve got to say, it’s been nice being home, though, having time to write and workin’ on my garden—the biggest plus is being home with my gal and close to my family.
8) In terms of music projects, specifically, what have you been working on and when might we hear some new Jeremie Albino music?
I’m not too sure really, I’ve just been writing as much as I can and I’ll see what comes of it, and hopefully be able to get into a studio. I’m not even sure when that’ll be able to happen. So for now, I’m just writing and hopefully I’ll be able to put a couple songs out this year and a record coming out sometime next year.
9) And finally, for those fans who may not have seen you for a while and who may have missed out on scheduled tour dates, what message would you like to send them right now?
I just want to say thanks so much for the support and love. Seriously it means the world that y’all are listening and following along. I know we’re all itching to get back to live shows, and it may not happen for a while, but we’ll get back to live shows one day. We’ll get through this thing.
Now take a look at Albino performing the song “Klondike Man” from a friend’s general store in Prince Edward County.