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Plaskett's Happiness 

A man who thrives on ambitious projects releases another stunner, Scrappy Happiness. Doled out in weekly installments, it all comes together on March 27.

click to enlarge Blanket statement: Plaskett in his Scotland Yard studio. - INGRAM BARSS
  • Blanket statement: Plaskett in his Scotland Yard studio.
  • Ingram Barss

To say Joel Plaskett is a prolific songwriter would be a gross understatement. In 2008, Plaskett went into the studio and geared up to release the follow up to 2007's critically acclaimed Ashtray Rock. The result was Three, a sprawling triple-disc solo-album so ambitious he didn't think his label, Maple Music, would even press it.

So he did what any singer-songwriter would do: he made his own record label.

New Scotland Records was created primarily to house the triple-album vinyl copy of Three---as well as the rest of Plaskett's vinyl discography---but soon it will hold a record that aims to be even more ambitious than its predecessor.

The album is called Scrappy Happiness, a self-professed Big Brother-style experiment that saw Plaskett and the Emergency's Dave Marsh and Chris Pennell recording a song a week for the past 10 weeks at Plaskett's Scotland Yard Studio in Dartmouth.

"At a certain point you have to let go of things," says Plaskett, who won best songwriter in the Best of Music Readers' Survey. "Turning records around quickly and getting them out fast is really good on a creative level. If you're pleased with what you did, why not get it out there and get people behind it?"

The project differs from any other album Plaskett has done before. Not only is it one of his quickest releases---with each song mastered and played on CBC Radio 2's Drive a day after it's been finished---but a project that aims to deconstruct the whole rock star mythos by posting weekly making-of vignettes that document his recording process.

"Having come up through the '90s indie scene, everything was kind of ironic for a while and everything got demystified. I like how the '90s kind of deconstructed rock stars a little bit," he says, adding that the project was in part created to inspire other musicians to be similarly independent in the recording process. "I like being part of a community and I like knowledge being passed between friends and peers, so I think arming people with a behind the scenes look at information can be really interesting."

This sense of community and sharing is what led Plaskett to branch off with Maple and start New Scotland Records in 2008. Noticing the innate talent in his musical community, as well as the lack of interest in vinyl releases at the time, Plaskett started New Scotland to promote his friends and curate his recorded output.

"Having as much control as possible is something I've realized is a really good thing," he says about owning the rights to his songs. "All the vinyls are in one place, so now I have this curated collection of all my records on vinyl in one home and that's really satisfying"

He says that currently New Scotland Records is more of a "labour of love" than anything else.

"Financially right now it doesn't have to make money, but we hope it will. It's more of an investment," he says. "It can kind of percolate and hopefully break even."

But more than anything he hopes his label can give back to his musical community and keep him involved in the musical scene that raised him.

"It's hard for me because I'm touring so much, I'm not really at clubs and I don't get to see bands too often. I'm busy, but I'm also getting older, so my ability to stay out super late and hang out in a 'scene' is harder to sustain," he says. "By doing this it makes me feel like I'm doing something to stay localized."


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