Christina Martin (photo by Mat Dunlap)
Halifax’s Christina Martin is set to release her new album I Can Too next week. The 11-track record is Martin’s third and her second she produced with fiancé Dale Murray (Cuff the Duke).
The album is set to be released on Come Undone Records and distributed across the country by EMI.
For nearly a decade, Martin has been on a musical journey. She recorded her debut album Pretty Things (2002) in Austin, Texas. After returning home to Halifax, she started playing the café/bar circuit and met Murray. On a whim they recorded Two Hearts (2008), an album that won her Pop Recording of the Year at the 2009 East Coast Music Awards, as well as two Nova Scotia Music Awards for Female Artist of the Year and Pop Recording of the Year in 2008.
I Can Too (which, I’ll add, is a killer record) features appearances by Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and Cuff the Duke’s Wayne Petti.
Martin will celebrate the release a week from today, Friday, Sept. 10, at The Seahorse in Halifax. The show features performances from Patrick Brealey, Acres & Acres, DJ Regalia. The show begins at 9 p.m. with Martin taking the stage at 10 p.m.
Tickets for the show are $14.99 in advance and $20.00 at the door. They are available at all Ticketpro outlets.
There’s a long list of dates across Canada that can be found on Martin’s website.
She joins us this week for a chat …
1. Tell me about the new album. What was the process like, and how did it differ from your previous two records?
Dale and I both came into this recording with more experience in the studio, and we had a better idea of what we wanted this album to sound like. We had been talking about it on countless tours while listening to Tom Petty and other artists we liked. When Dale and I started recording Two Hearts, we really had no idea what would come of it, and we barely knew each other. The process was relatively relaxed this time and smooth. We made a plan (I’m big on planning!!!) and we basically did exactly what we said we were going to do.
I wanted to make an album that had more of a pop/rock edge to some of the main songs like Daisy, Hello and I Can Too. I didn’t want to wash away the serious topics with bells and whistles, so we kept the instrumentation and number of people involved to a minimum. With Two Hearts, we had many more people involved in the overdub process and were heavy on the strings with some songs (which worked out great!). I feel this is a stronger album overall, as much as you hate to compare your past work with current work, I just know that both Dale and I were more confident going into this album, and we believe that comes across sonically. You can never really tell what other people will like, all you can do is make something you are proud of and pour it out to whoever will listen.
2. What was on your mind or ‘inspiring you’ as you were writing for the record?
The songs were not written all at the same time. Some were written many years ago while I was living in Germany (Picture of a Sadman) or Austin (Daisy, They Say). One song was written as we were recording it (Take).
I am typically inspired by things that happen in my life or to someone I know that just draw me to my pen and paper. For this album many of the topics or events that inspired me dealt with some heavy topics… death, anxiety, fear, and/or struggling with mental health, addictions, love, loss. The song I’m Gonna Die has to do with panic attacks, what they feel like and how many people don’t know how to cope with them. This particular song was inspired when a young girl I lived with (she was only 8 years old) repeated “I’m gonna die” while having a melt down over what snack to have before bed. When she said those words I was able to finally identify that she was having panic attacks. I don’t know what took me so long to figure this out with her, since her symptoms were similar to panic attacks I had experienced in my life as an adult. It isn’t often that you hear a child say “I’m gonna die,” at least not in my traveling nanny experiences.
They Say is a song I wrote for my friend JoAnne in Austin after her best friend and husband dropped dead of a heart attack. I attended the wake and learned not only that he was a devoted father and friend, he also collected model trains and tarantula spiders, which I thought was very interesting.
There are individual stories behind every song on the album. It’s no secret that loss and exit events are some of the most important in our lives. We often learn more from devastating life lessons than from love… although being in an enormously loving relationship now I know there are some wonderful things to learn from love. But perhaps I would not appreciate love as much had I not learned what losing big love felt like. I’ve heard from other people that they feel the same way, and I am often inspired to write about their struggles and perseverance. I find it uplifting.
3. The album is days away from being released. How do you feel?
I’m excited to hit the road! I’m tired from sitting at my computer planning and organizing details… I’m ready to play and get back to the work I really love to do. I’m excited for people to hear the album and especially the songs live. There is always a bit of relief when this release time rolls around. There are some really exciting shows on the tour which I can’t wait for. I’m super excited to share the stage with Cuff The Duke for a large portion of the tour dates.
4. Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor appears on this album. How did you guys first meet, and what was Greg like to work with?
I met Greg for the first time in Toronto at a Cuff The Duke Show at The Horseshoe Tavern. He introduced himself backstage (I was too shy to speak to him). We sat and talked for a long time back stage and I learned really quickly that Greg was really easy to talk to. He invited Dale and I to a private show he was performing with Jim Cuddy at The Carleton in Halifax in November 2009.
It was backstage at The Carleton show that Greg was asking me about my new album we were about to record. Greg jumped in when I was telling him about a song and said, “I’ll play on your album,” to which I responded “Greg, what if I suck? You have not even heard me play yet.” He just blew that off and insisted that he would play on the album. It was on his off day in January 2010 that we had Greg come into Dale’s studio in Dartmouth with Wayne Petti (Cuff The Duke) and he graciously played baritone guitar and sang on Subject To Change (written By Andrew Sisk) and both Wayne and Greg sang harmonies on Daisy.
5. You’ve worked with your fiancé Dale Murray on this record and your previous one, Two Hearts. What’s it like working together? Does it provide any challenges?
Dale and I work really well together. In fact, we do everything well together. He is my best friend! We both have certain strengths and weaknesses when it comes to song writing and ideas in the studio.
Dale is a genius at arrangements, playing parts on multiple instruments, and engineering/mixing. I’m best at all the organizational details and the lyrics and melodies, we both know what we like when I hear it… so the combination in the studio seems to work well for us. I don’t really have any complaints or challenges to speak of, other than my own limitations as a musician. I continue to feel lucky to have someone like Dale to work on projects with. He completes me (can you believe I just said that!!??).
6. On your Twitter page a week or two ago, you wrote, “At Tom Petty in Toronto…. Holy shit!!!” First of all, I’m jealous. Secondly, how was the show? When you’re at a concert, do you ever draw inspiration for your own shows?
First of all, I rarely attend concerts. I’m really picky about how I like to spend my time, and if the artist is not one of my absolute favorites, I’d rather be home baking gluten-free bread for Dale.
Second, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers have been a big influence for me over the past few years. Tom is possibly my favorite songwriter. The show was amazing! Crosby, Stills and Nash opened the show if you can believe it. They were great, but I was really there to hear Tom and The Heartbreakers. They put on a great live show and knocked out all the hits… they did it with simple classic rock style! No bells and whistles or pyrotechnics… just guitars, great singing and lyrics… great playing! It was a highlight for me.
So, at a concert like that, it definitely inspires me! I watch everyone (especially Tom) and try to pick up on the subtle details that make a great show! In Tom and The Heartbreakers’ case, it was just their ability to walk on stage and confidently play their hearts out, simply deliver GREAT SONGS and be gracious to your audience. They looked so pro, but it was the great playing and songs that really stood out and make them look and sound great!
7. When did you first get into the music “business” and what was the first major lesson you learned?
The first major lesson I learned was that there was not going to be ANY room for people who were not supportive in my life. ZERO! I learned early on that it’s a long hard road, not always financially rewarding, you can get really down on yourself… so I sort of had to do a cleaning job with people around me. I had to tell my mom on the phone that if I called her upset or frustrated, that the LAST thing I wanted to hear from her was “Well, maybe you should do something other than music.”
8. What song, album or artist have you been listening to most lately?
Tom Petty – Mojo - GOOD ENOUGH
9. You have another cross-country tour planned over the next few months. What’s the road life like for you? Everyone seems to feel a little different about being on the road for an extended period of time.
I love being on the road. Before every tour I try to tie everything up at home so I don’t feel like I’m leaving anything behind. So I usually hit the road with an open mind and heart. I work from the road every day as well, so it feels like I take home on the road with me (because when I’m at home I’m working all the time on administrative stuff). If I’m alone I get a lot of ideas and tend to write quite a bit. If I’m around people, I try to enjoy it because most of my job feels pretty solitary and self-centered. Overall, I feel like I’m always on a working holiday when I’m touring. I really feel lucky to be able to do what I do. I also get to see more friends and family now that I tour, and you make new great friends each time you go out. It’s pretty cool!
10. What else do you have coming up in the coming months?
I have a new video coming out for I Can Too. That should be ready in September sometime. We filmed it in the middle of the night in Montreal and I am wearing nothing but a giant pink rabbit costume.
In the coming months, we have tour dates booked across Canada until November. We are announcing more EASTERN DATES after Sept. 11. These will be co-bills with Cuff The Duke and myself. Other than that, my plans involve playing as many shows as possible and preparing for showcases and a Europe tour in 2011. Planning, planning and more planning… always planning!