Sunday, November 17, 2013

Interview Sessions: Volume 5.5

Meet Lisa Hoffman.

You know what we like about Lisa Hoffman? She gets right to the point. When we asked her which novel she would take to a desert island, she responded with the SAS Survival Guide (which is infinitely more practical, it must be said, than Don Delillo's Underworld - sorry, Andrew Faulkner). When, on her CBC Music profile, she was asked to fill out her musical influences, she doesn't hem and haw about the diverse stable of artists which have tailored her sensibilities over the years. No, not Lisa. She wrote, to wit: "All kinds of things." And then, when we wanted to know what her least favourite thing about her cell phone provider was, she gave us an answer, all right: "They're assholes." (She must be with Rogers.) 

Oh, and did we mention that her music is incredible? (Maybe we shoulda led with that.) An extremely lyrically aware musician, Lisa's songs tend toward moving and emotionally complex lyricism, over finely-tuned and stripped-down guitar work that showcases her singing. Lisa's voice is a marvel unto itself, especially on tracks like "Red Blood" and "i never came to stay." Her timing, her cadence, and her perfectly exercised range (with just a touch of raspy raggedness around the edges) evokes a more restrained take on the best of Alannis Morrisette's most moving vocals with a contemporary twist. Listening to Lisa's music, you get the feeling that she knows very well just how far to push any given note or emphasis, and does precisely what the song needs. This vocal restraint gives her songs an irresistible simmering passion, and bodes well for the future of her musical career - she is clearly patient, talented, and very dedicated to her craft. 

If you want more of this incredible Canadian artist, we've got three (yes, three!) options for you to persue: 1) Head down to The Only Cafe tonight at 7 pm,  where she will be performing as part of RUCKUS READINGS VOL. V: THERE'S A RUCKER BORN EVERY MINUTE! 2) Check out her CBC music profile, where you can hear a few of her songs for free -, or 3) Check out the interview she did with us below, where you will learn all sorts of things about the budding musician, including a coulour she would never paint her living room (and, obviously, more!)


The Big Questions: 

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?

It's difficult for me to say, since I have never been part the audience at my own performance. I would like to see myself as an evocative, lyrically driven songwriter that has a certain degree of emotional resonance and impact. Audience members, feel free to fill in the gaps here.

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?

It would probably have to be the first time I listened to Ani DiFranco's Little Plastic Castle. I was in seventh grade, and I hadn't found the stage of popular music too inspiring. I remember being drawn to the work's energy, strength, and softness. Ani DiFranco is a spectacular songwriter and musician, and her work has marked me tremendously over the years. Do I find myself chasing elements of her work? Not particularly.

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 write a lot about home, and the struggle to find a sense of it, the way the body can act as a container for it, and how we leave physical structures behind. I write a lot about outliving physical spaces, exploring the ways that memories haunt you, and the struggle to reconcile how all things pass. These are the core themes that keep coming up again and again.

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

I would like to inspire people, or at least make them feel less alone in the struggle to understand the passing of time. I would also like listeners to take away a sense of space, as well as a sense of terrain; I want listeners to be able to vividly imagine the way my live experiences are imprinted on my songs, and then projected onto them, superimposed with their own experiences.

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?

For the moment, I’d go with white wine and Sam Robert’s Chemical City. Maybe I’m missing summer a little bit right now.

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.

Lisa Hoffman is a fairly competent human being who has done many insignificant things and several quite significant things. The Montreal native moved to Toronto in a storm after finishing her BFA in Studio Arts & Art History at Concordia. She’s played rugby for ten years, earning a silver medal at CIS National Championships in 2011 as part of the Concordia Rugby team. She’s working on her MA at Ryerson, writing her thesis on open source software for global development and humanitarian aid. Apparently she’s also quite the singer-songwriter. Who knew?

The Lightning Round:

1) Desert island novel: SAS Survival Guide

2) Best restaurant in Toronto: The cheap Mexican taco place in the Kensington Market

3) Least favourite thing about your cell phone provider: They’re assholes

4) An animal you’ve always wished you could have as a pet: Penguin

5) A colour you would never paint your living room: White. 

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