chocolate

2013 JUNO Awards… an experience!

What a weekend! I am going to attempt to write about my JUNO experience in order to process the events in my head. So here goes…

After a few months of prep which mainly revolved around what I was going to wear (helped by the kids from a local elementary school) I was all packed into a medium sized suitcase (impressive) and ready to go.

But the gods of planes trains and automobiles were not shining on us as the fog descended on the Comox Valley and no plane could land therefore we couldn’t get out. Panic set in as I had a gig early the next morning and it isn’t good form to miss a JUNO gig. Eventually they bussed us to the next town where, fortunately, the fog had lifted and we were off in time to get our connecting flight to Regina.

Everyone told me that Regina was cold but I wasn’t expecting the kind cold that takes your breath away (and a few digits if you stay outside long enough).

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Friday night was the first of the events,a green carpet walk and a drinks reception with a particularly lovely martini bar and wonderful snacky things wandering around us carried by incredibly lovely police cadets. Here I met two of the other nominees in my category, Jennifer Gasoi and Marlowe Stone from Marlowe and the Mix. I immediately liked both of them. We had already been in contact to sing on each others songs at the gig the next morning. We are a very friendly category πŸ™‚

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On the way back to the hotel Trevor, my husband and date for the weekend, insisted we get sushi. I wasn’t hungry so just went to watch him eat. In an interview with Jo-Ann Roberts of CBC’s All Points West earlier that day she asked me who I would like to meet most and I said Jian Ghomeshi from CBC’s Q. I have sent him my music previously (along with chocolatey bribes) in the hopes of getting noticed by one of Canada’s largest music taste-makers.

As we approach the sushi restaurant who should be waiting to be seated but Jian himself. I walked in and introduced myself and was thrilled that he said “oh, you sent me your album and you’re up for kid’s music award aren’t you”. He remembered me… so the chocolates must have worked! Anyway, he was very lovely and we had a quick chat and went our separate ways to eat.

There were shuttles put on to takes us anywhere we wanted to go, which we were SO grateful for given the minus temperatures and Saturday early morning was no exception as we headed to the Children’s Category nominee gig at the Regina Public Library. All the JUNO staff were so friendly and welcoming and we had a wonderful SOLD OUT show packed with kids and their parents.

I met another nominee, Emilie Mover and we all sang on each others songs and played a song together at the end. Even though all our style were SO different I think we sounded really good together and it was so much fun.

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Saturday afternoon the nerves started kicking in. What if I won? I hadn’t really thought of a speech but had considered who I would thank. What if I didn’t win? Would I cry? So instead I had a nap… the answer to everything πŸ™‚

I chose a little black lacy number for the Gala dinner where many of the awards were being presented, including my category. There was another green carpet (I must google the meaning of green vs red carpet) where the press were gathered so I got to strut my stuff in front of them.

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There were more martinis and pics and then dinner. We were sitting with other nominees including a jazz and a classical musician and we were all sitting upright, hopeful. There were various performances by Colin James, Donny Parenteau (cool fiddler) and the Four Tenors along with a local choir. These were interspersed with awards and hosting by Jian Ghomeshi of the afore-mentioned sushi restaurant encounter.

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We were rooting for each other at the table while trying to eat steaks the size of my head. How do you eat honking great piece of meat while preparing yourself for elation or disappointment? The first on our table didn’t win and the second and the third. There was only me left as the expectant shoulders had gone from upright to slumped.

My award came up and it was a thrill to see my face up on the big screen and my music playing, but before I knew it they were announcing Emilie Mover’s name and my shoulders also slumped.

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But only for a few minutes. Emilie’s album is excellent and she is such a sweet, sweet person so I was really happy for her. It was also nice to have the technology handy to text my friends and get all the feedback that good friends are there for. And after putting it on FB my community in the Comox Valley posted reams of comments that made me feel so loved that I didn’t care that I hadn’t won.

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Sunday was a lazy day of avoiding the biting cold and watching TV and eating the remains of the best sandwich ever. The previous day we had gone into a local deli and when they found out I was a nominee they insisted on having a picture with me and giving us cannoli. It was the best sandwich ever. If you are ever in Regina you must go to family run The Italian Star Deli.

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So red carpet time was upon us and, as I hadn’t won, I decided to stop playing it safe, ditch little black dress #3 and wear a very colourful dress that had been sent to my by Karina a wonderful dress boutique in Brooklyn NY (long story). And I am so glad I did.

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Walking the red carpet was a weird and wonderful experience. It’s all very official with lots of security. You stand in front of a a whole bunch of photographers trying to remember what they do in America’s Next Top Model. It was fun and I played around a bit. You then have to walk the rest of the red carpet with screaming fans who are not sure who they are screaming for until someone like Michael Buble arrives and the screams go to a painful level.

One of my favourite parts (because I am getting older and a little vain) was when an official with a headset ask me who I was and I said I was a nominee. She look at me and said “gosh you don’t look old enough to be a nominee”. Now I am not sure how old ‘not old enough’ is but I’ll take it! πŸ™‚

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Another reception, more alcohol, more meats on sticks and more chatting to fellow nominees and we were heading to the arena for the live televised show. It was a great, well organized show with the highlight, obviously, being KD Lang’s induction into the hall of fame. What a speech an what a voice. I will always remember the ‘inner quirkmeister’ part πŸ™‚

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So more shuttles, which, by the way, is a great way to meet new people, more drinks, more food and we were done. My first JUNO experience.

I have to give a huge shout out to my wonderful date for the weekend, my husband of nearly 21 years, for being patient, gracious and sociable, all the qualities anyone could ever ask for on a weekend such as this. And had I won I would have thanked him, my wonderful children and the community of the Comox Valley. Hopefully I will get the opportunity another time. πŸ™‚

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LA Take 2 – Day 15 – Red Carpet

This was my last day in LA and although I am little sad to leave I am so excited about getting home to my family.

I spent the morning having brunch with my publisher’s wife and cute little boy, which was lovely. And then back to the hotel to pack. I am not a tidy person so it took some time to gather everything up and cram it into a suitcase that seemed more than big enough when I left 2 weeks ago.

Packing was courtesy of the following chocolate…

So it seem that choosing a dress for an awards show with a red carpet is not as easy and carefree as it sounds… no really. I hd a choice of three and went with the white dress but, as were going out for mexican beforehand… I was smart enough to take one of the black ones with me… just in case there was a salsa disaster.

The evening was a great success… mexican food and many margaritas followed by a quick red carpet followed by en early win of Best Alternative Female. So Cool!

Then we headed back to a mexican favourite, El Carmen, for more tequilas and food. I had the best time and will really miss these guys.

LA Take 2 – Day 14 – Last music day

I took another walk in the sunshine this morning and found myself at The Grove once more. It really is a lovely area to browse.

But I made the mistake of passing the Ugg store again. My legs kind of just made me go inside… and then I caved. I have been looking at these boots online for ages and they just happened to have my size… oops.

Back to Bleu’s place one last time to go through the vocals I did yesterday… apparently the spittiest ones so far. I record vocals quietly very close to the mic and my mouth makes a lot of spitty sounds which need to be erased. Fun for Bleu… yeh.

So I thought this would be an appropriate final bar of chocolate… chilli!… that will make your mouth water…

The chocolate powered us through the last set of my publisher’s notes and there quite a few back and forths on things, but we went through each item and eventually came up with stuff that everyone was happy with.

After the final edit Bleu broke out the Gin & Tonic to celebrate and we listened to the album from start to finish… and we both agree that we think we have a pretty damn fine album πŸ™‚

This evening I finally managed to get together with Hans Dekline, the guy who has mastered all my past albums and we went out for Greek food and then onto a gig that a friend of his was doing. We also met up with Bryan Cook, another producer/engineer and his wife.

Their friend’s band, The Please Please Me were great. Cool combination of guitar vocals, cello, drums and glockenspiel. Great songs too. And it turns out that Jessie Torrisi, the lead singer knows my musical friends Doug Cox and Betty Soo. It’s a small musical world.

We left the venue and ended up at a very old diner where there were cops eating at the next table. I felt like I was in an old sitcom… just needed one of them to start eating donuts.

LA Take 2 – Day 13 – duhn duhn duhn.

I started today with a nice walk down to the Grove to take advantage of the return of the sunshine. Not sure what the weather is doing on the island but thought I’d better get my Vit D fix while I can. I picked up T-shirts for the kids. We always get the kid’s T shirts with the name of the the place we are visiting… eventually they will be turned into a quilt when they leave home. They have a LOT of LA t shirts now.

Back to Bleu’s place and we were checking out the final rough mixes. Listening to the songs next to each other I really noticed that it is such a diverse album but with a lot of stuff that ties it all together. There is everything from electronic 80’s style to quiet songs with string quartet to milder Bjork style stuff… and everything in between. But it does feel cohesive.

Bleu has managed to do exactly what I wanted and that was to put his stamp on my songs whilst retaining the integrity of my vocal style.

Chocolate today was courtesy of Bleu. Another Vosges bar… not as weird as the curry one… and really nice.

Editing continued. For this recording I have pretty much let Bleu do his thing unless something really stood out that I didn’t like. I understand that production is a process and I understand that he gets to his end goal much faster without my input. I figure why get a producer and then interfere too much.

However, I got a bit bored this afternoon and started pointing out stuff in the vocals while he was checking stuff… Bleu gave me a look and promptly put on his headphones. You have to understand that we have all spent SO much time together these 2 weeks that it gets very sarcastic bordering on rude… in a fun way, if that makes sense.

We had to re do the vocals for Anytime Soon so we did that today… it was nice to do some singing… I miss singing every day.

Joe invited us over for dinner at his place so we headed over and were greeted with margaritas and he cooked a lovely meal including my new favourite thing… grilled romaine… yum!

LA Take 2 – Day 9

This morning I got Bleu put on the car rental agreement so he can relax and drive. My driving has lost it’s London edge so I’m a bit sloooow.

Back at the studio it was fluting time… check out what I had to play… not easy, but I had SO much fun doing it. And Bleu was VERY complimentary about my playing and I know if I had sucked he would not have hidden it.

And here’s me doing my thing…

Once that was done it was chocolate time and I took a bit of a risk today and bought … wait for it… 100% Cocoa. Joe was REALLY excited and it did not disappoint… pretty good.

Some of Joe’s friend popped in for a visit. I have met so many nice people while I have been here… all them so relaxed and fun. And these folks were no exception.

Talking of Joe… after we devoured the best ever fish and potato tacos, Joe recorded some drums and piano on Floating Away… and did a very tasty job…

We spent a while watching the back of Bleu’s head while he did his thing with with all his bells and whistles. When he suggested adding banjolele I took no time in whipping it out… πŸ™‚

The photo I really wish I had gotten was when all three of us recorded some clapping… just to capture the pure joy/insanity on the guys’ faces. It was a kodak moment.

It got to 8:30 and we were starving so headed over to the Monday night food truck night and got there just in time. It was such a cool place. In the grounds of a church a whole bunch of gourmet food trucks turn up. I had the best burger followed by a red velvet truffle…. yum.

Then back to the studio to work some more on Anytime Soon. When we started this song a few days ago and Bleu was adding some really weird stuff I wasn’t sure, but listening fresh I LOVE it. He comes up with such interesting ideas that I could never think of. I’ve jumped down a musical rabbit hole and am loving it!

LA Take 2 – Day 4 – Wonderful Day

I started today with my usual walk to Whole Foods to pick up lunch and snack (and chocolate) but was lured into a clothing store on my way back where I purchased these lovely shoes for my daughter. She may have to wrestle me for them though.

I also picked up cake pops to start the recording day… mmm… chocolate raspberry.

The first part of today’s session was spent sorting out vocals and organizing a string section and stand-up bass player. It’s so cool to have all these amazing musicians available to play on my album. And after hearing the string arrangement for A Little More Fine and seeing the joy on Bleu’s face I am very excited about the quartet that is coming in next week.

Then it was onto vocal harmonies for Every Time You Catch Me. The production on this one is huge and I love it!! I love it when Bleu is going through my vocals making approving noises. So in celebration of this we broke open today’s chocolate… Black Salt and Burnt Sugar Caramel 70% chocolate. It just might be better than yesterday’s bacon.

After Joe recorded some amazing drums, once again, everyone was really excited and there was a great atmosphere in the studio… maybe it was all the sugar consumed but either way we were having fun. In fact at the end of the day Bleu declared that it was probably the most fun he’d had at the studio ever. πŸ™‚

We ended the day by going out for Mexican… I am mexican food convert… especially when it comes with blood orange tequila!

LA Take 2 – Day 2 – Wind

No, not that kind of wind. Today we got the wind ensemble arrangements for a very new song called Little Room. One of the instruments is flute, which means I can put my long time skills to some use.. finally!

I also decided to chart this trip with chocolate. I know… it’s going to be a struggle, but I think I will get through it. Today’s recording is brought to you by Divine’s 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries. As you can see… it’s rather delicious.

So back to the wind. The arrangement is insane… and by insane, I mean insane. πŸ™‚ Bleu spent quite a while tweaking the arrangement while Joe and I spent time getting down the some serious work of taking silly photos. πŸ™‚

While Bleu continued to beaver away on the wind I had a little time to practise the tunes I will be playing at Room 5 next week – Wed 25th April and it turns out that also playing that night is a singer, Jess Furman, who Bleu’s manager, Stacey Peck, also represents. I love it when things like that happen.

After Bleu sorted out his wind (sorry, I can’t help it) Joe Seiders did his percussion thing and everyone was bobbing along to the song. It’s amazing what happens when all the parts are put together… and we haven’t even recorded the real wind instruments yet.