Saturday, September 21, 2013

Interview Sessions: Volume 4.2

Meet Winter Rowan.

You may not know Toronto folk musician Winter Boyer-Bivins, a.k.a Winter Rowan, a.k.a nope actually those are the only two things that she goes by so far as we are aware, but here are 3 reasons why you definitely, certainly, most assuredly should:

1) She has an album called Sexual Tension in the Cereal Aisle.

2) She does ukulele covers (and sometimes takes requests!), including this cover of "Zombie" by The Cranberries.

3) She is, in her own words, "very Canadian."

Continuing on the trend of "young musicians whose talent makes us feel bad about ourselves" which we started with the handsome Robot Feels, Winter is only 19, though you wouldn't guess it if you were listening to her music. An acoustic artist, who works as often with the guitar as with its miniature cousin, the ukulele, Winter's delicate, somewhat wistful voice suits her music to a tee. Drawing inspiration from artists like Sarah Slean, Regina Spektor, and Hawksley Workman, among others, Winter's music has a real heart to it, something at once raw and fragile that tugs at your ears the way a breeze tugs at long grass. She's not one to fence herself in to one genre or a select stable of artists, though.

"i love the canadian music scene and listen to a lot of cbc," she says, "but i have one direction on my ipod too, so i kind of just listen to whatever catches my eye--ear."

One thing that caught our eye about Winter's work is the variety she shows in both subject matter and references. With a Winter Rowan album, you never quite know what to expect. Sometimes it's musical theatre (as with her album titled Enjolras and Grantaire Die Holding Hands), sometimes it's unexpected appearances by other bands (a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" being one of our favourites) and 
sometimes it's a little more socially minded. 

As she mentions in our interview, she "like[s] throwing in random bits of activism. i'm feminist, queer, and have a mental illness, so it's important for me to draw from these experiences--being a woman and having depression. it's important to look at these things and make light of them even when shit just seems pretty bad."

Either way, her output alone is staggering: if you check out her Bandcamp, you'll see that she has four albums available (for listening to or downloading by donation), and that's just a fraction of her catalog. She's always producing new songs, new covers, and new material from other disciplines as well (the odd drawing or bit of writing may very well sneak under the radar).

She can't wait for you to hear a sample of her music this Sunday at The Only, and neither can we. And if you find yourself wanting to chat with Winter after the show, a hint: try asking her about musical theatre (and especially Les Miz). You can thank us later.

We've got an interview with Winter below, but if you want to learn/read/hear more, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or at one of her websites.



1) To get the ball rolling: For any audience members who have never had the chance to hear your work before, how would you describe it? (For bonus points: on this month’s theme of ‘natural forces,’ what would the weather forecast be on the day your work is being performed?): 

cute and depressing. hopefully chilly--think october or california on the beach. gotta have wind yo.

2) Can you remember the first time an artist's work really reached out and grabbed you? If so, who were they, and what about them caught your attention? Are there any elements that you still find yourself chasing, in some way?: 

i'm not sure i remember exactly when...but the first artist that really really got to me is sarah slean. at first, i didn't really like her music. they played her on cbc all the time and i never really got into it, but something happened (i dunno) and suddenly she was my absolute favourite musician. her music is just a really important part of my life and my writing process. she puts me in a good mood, a relaxed mood, and really helps me get the creative juices flowing.

well, i'd like to be able to play piano well, which i think would help me get more of an ambiance i want around certain songs, but for now i feel pretty good with my stuff. i'm still experimenting and finding exactly where my niche is in the music world.

3) In your own work, are there any themes, images, or melodies (etc.) that you find yourself drawn to, intentionally or otherwise? What are they? Why do you think they resonate with you?: 

i'm originally from northern ontario, so nature is pretty important to me. i find myself drawing metaphors with water and forest and wind...definitely got some four elements stuff going on. i always feel pretty close to nature, it's something i'd like to channel more than i do. i like throwing in random bits of activism. i'm feminist, queer, and have a mental illness, so it's important for me to draw from these experiences--being a woman and having depression. it's important to look at these things and make light of them even when shit just seems pretty bad. i'm all about alienation effect, sounding really happy when the lyrics might be like "i am so depressed i hate everything where the frick is my whiskey". also tv shows and books...writing about real life is much harder than it seems.

4) If there's one thing that you'd like people to feel when they read what you’ve produced, or something that you’d like them to take away from your music, what is it?: 

i'd hope people feel inspired to do whatever they want. my music's about letting go and saying "fuck the system" in a way it's got a punk definition even if it doesn't really sound that way. i just want people to feel free. and cry.

5) Just for fun, give me a pairing: one of your favourite albums and one of your favourite beverages (alcoholic or not). Why do they go together? How do they complement one another?: 

(last night we were) the delicious wolves by hawksley workman and apple cider (throw some booze in there if you want). they've both got a sort of edge, a tang if you will. there's something super cozy about both hawksley's music and apple cider where you want to snuggle into bed and just chill but also makes you want to get up and dance or sway and let go. it's a very "autumn" feeling i suppose--bundle up in sweaters and scarves and fall like leaves.

6) Last question: give us a short (less than 75 words) third-person bio blurb about yourself which covers any awards/distinctions you're proud of and what you're tackling right now. 

Winter Rowan's only real proud moments have to do with her work in musical theatre in high school, but she is very proud of her bandcamp and her clever album names. Right now, she's working as what she likes to call a "freelance musician" and taking song commissions online, hoping to make enough money to pay for her application on Ontario Colleges. She continues to try and fail at piano playing.


1) What’s your desert island book/album/film?: hapsgood translation of les mis.

2) Which artist, living or dead, would you meet for lunch?: liza minnelli

3) Which Toronto restaurant would you take them to?: the spaghetti factory (that's the fanciest place i can think of oh my gosh i never go to restaurants except like subway)

4) Most underappreciated album out there, in your opinion?: 11:11 by regina spektor

5) Any chance you'll give us a little hint at what you'll be reading on the 25th?: think ukulele

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