The Halifax music scene tends to steadily bleed talent into central Canada, so it's always refreshing to find someone who's moved here for the scene. Relocating from Ottawa in early 2009, singer-songwriter Gianna Lauren has no trouble remembering why she moved here.
Meeting over wine on a rainy evening at the flat Lauren shares with several other musicians above the Newfoundland Store, she's just back from Nova Scotia Music Week in Yarmouth and full of excitement from the weekend. "I'm still in awe at the quality of the performances I witnessed, everyone was brilliant, it reminded me exactly why I'd moved here...I was really flattered to be accepted, not really being a Nova Scotian," she says.
Lauren releases her first full-length record, Some Move Closer, Some Move On, Thursday at The Company House. The culmination of two years of work, the album is being released by Forward Music (home to Share, The Olympic Symphonium and Grand Theft Bus), Lauren's first contacts with the Halifax music scene while living and playing in Ottawa, and a major player in her move here. "I was making music in Ottawa and doing so much else that I didn't have time to do the music at the level that I wanted to," she says. After playing shows with Share and Olympic Symphonium in Ottawa, the bands brought her to Halifax. She was impressed by the scene.
"I was working six jobs and just running at full force and feeling really suffocated at times...Coming back [from Halifax] with such positive memories, I just packed up my car and said a few goodbyes and drove here in the dead of winter---I left so fast that I just left my apartment and got people to live in it."
Lauren's jobs were indicative of her interests: she ran a vegan and vegetarian catering business, repaired bikes, worked in bartending, radio and as a support worker for a senior citizen. "When you take something you love and turn it into a job, it changes the way you feel about it," she says. "I don't feel that way about music, I'm not doing it to pay the bills, I don't have any expectations, it's not like all the other things."
Moving to Halifax, Lauren quickly found the support she sought and the space she needed to focus on music. The earliest songs on her album, Some Move Closer, Some Move On, were written in her first weeks in the city. She was approached after a show last year by Daniel Ledwell (In-Flight Safety), who asked if she wanted to do some recording with him. Ledwell became the producer for the album, and they began recording last August.
"He's been so enthusiastic and so invested in the project," Lauren says. "He's put a lot of his time and energy and musical talents into this album." The melodic pop-rock encompasses a range of styles and recording spaces, but stands as a cohesive whole; heavier songs merge with dreamier, more atmospheric songs, others with eastern European jazz and keyboard beats. She mentions themes of motion, adaptation and longing. Lauren's current backing band features Ledwell, Tim Crabtree (Paper Beat Scissors) and Jordi Comstock. Having toured the album across Ontario and Quebec already, she's excited to celebrate the release in her adopted hometown.
"I think it's not very common that people will leave a bigger city for a smaller, more isolated town to do something like this---but I think it complements my personality better.
Gianna Lauren, Thursday, November 11, 8pm, The Company House, 2202 Gottingen Street, $8/$20 with CD
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