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Aqua Alta country 

Aqua Alta packs a ton of variety and imagination into its intoxicating songs.

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The vessel floated through the soupy fog and choppy waves of our city's harbour. It was a hulking ship, and its name suggested that it had ventured all the way from Scandinavia. But rather than docking at one of the piers, it instead continued floating on---past the port and into the heart of our downtown, sailing carelessly along our streets and byways.

At least that's the surreal image that surfaced in the dynamic mind of Jenn Grant. Halifax's critically lauded songstress conjured up many notions while recording songs in her side project, the dream pop trio Aqua Alta. That image lead to one of group's best songs, the gently lilting "Norwegian Jewel." But Grant says she can't take credit for the song's inspiration, instead crediting her bandmate Charles Austin. "Charles often titles the music that they've made before he sends it to me, and I take a lot of inspiration from that," Grant says of the songs Austin constructs with the other member of their trio, Graeme Campbell (the famed beatsmith for Buck 65). Grant goes on to say: "Norwegian Jewel is the name of a boat that docks in Halifax. That song is like a tribute to the north end where I lived for three-and-a-half years, on Buddy Daye Street. But in my mind, there's a beautiful ship sailing through the streets."

But Austin says Grant brings so much more to the trio than surrealist imagery. Above all, he admires her technicality and creative dedication. "We would send her stuff periodically, and it was always interesting to see what she would write. It was never melodically or lyrically obvious," he says, before citing her vocals on the Aqua Alta tune "Epic Sweep." He says her contribution to that song "has three different lyrical and melodic ideas over one chord progression. This may sound like jargon, but in layman's terms it means that she can add a ton of variety to a song very quickly and very easily."

While Grant appreciates the technical kudos, she adds that there's something much deeper, and warmer, that makes the trio special. "When recording, I would pop into Charles' studio and he would get me to sing, but he would often be happy after one or two takes," she says, adding that such easy satisfaction could sometimes make her uneasy. "I am much more critical of my own voice, and I always thought it was funny that he would be happy with what we'd recorded, when I felt like I wasn't even warmed up yet. He is a wonderful person to sing around, because he's full of good energy that's strange and beautiful."


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