"I just always had in my mind that if I'm going to be a musician, I'm never going to be that person with an acoustic guitar at an open mic," says Tamara Lindeman of the recent transformation of her solo project, The Weather Station.
But then again, there was a point where she didn't consider herself a songwriter either. While coping with the weight of a great loss, experimenting with sound to make music was a near-immediate reaction for Lindeman. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter borrowed gear from her beat-making roommate and had at it.
The result was 2009's beautifully layered The Line and her tangled compositions and rich soundscapes were at the heart of it.
But All of it Was Mine, released by You've Changed Records in August, didn't come to life as naturally for Lindeman. After writing an album's worth of songs while living on Toronto Island, she was stuck with a resistant second record.
"I thought I was going to take those songs and put them in this bedrock of sounds, and it was going terribly because they were folk songs," says Lindeman, also a member of Bruce Peninsula, who'll showcase the solo projects of their myriad members at a special revue show Sunday. "And I think deep down somewhere it was an insecurity of mine, it was a fear that the songs weren't good enough."
Finally, she found herself arranging what she thought would be demo tracks with the help of friend and producer Daniel Romano in the comfort of his home studio over Christmas.
Romano, whom she calls "very persuasive," kept the recording simple and insisted that Lindeman would play acoustic guitar, in the vein of that straightforward singer-songwriter style she'd been avoiding.
As it turned out, on this record the words needed to be the centrepiece.
"The thing that I realized was...it's just a record," says Lindeman. "If you try to make a record some sort of reflection of yourself as a person, then you're going to fail. But if you just make a record true to the songs you've written then it's more honest. And once you let your ego out of the equation, you can probably make better music."
After a little letting go, those demo sessions became the recording sessions for All of it Was Mine, a natural-sounding 10-track album that's a perfect blend of sad and sweet.
By New Year, it was finished.
The uncomplicated one-mic recording method Romano used was a bit baffling for Lindeman at first, but she came to realize how freeing the lack of gear-related worry can be.
"It's crazy because I've seen people just break their backs over records that are beautiful and ornate and fascinating and have an amazing place," says the self-proclaimed perfectionist. "But you can also just put a microphone in front of a thing, and if the thing is good it really doesn't matter where the microphone is."
"There's really nothing you can't do with music," says Lindeman who, though she worries about maintaining consistency, hasn't necessarily abandoned her love for sound collage.
"The way you perform it is really just the framework for something. It's sort of like framing a photo: The picture remains the same, it's really just a matter of what frame you put it in.
The Weather Station w/Bruce Peninsula, Nick Everett, Sunday, October 9, 8pm, The Khyber ICA, 1588 Barrington Street, $8
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