Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Backsliders”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Growing up, I felt like a bit of an outsider. I definitely got picked on for being different (I had a mushroom cut before it was cool…) but of course I didn’t realize at the time that being different is not at all a bad thing. The cool girls in school were merciless, and it took me a long time in my young adulthood to repair the damage that feeling “unlovable” can do. When you find someone that makes you feel like less of an outsider, who makes you feel like you belong, it can be exhilarating and liberating. “Backsliders” are sinners, in church-speak! (I’m not religious, btw!) Getting in touch with your inner sinner can sure feel good.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Funny you should ask! The video just came out this week! It’s about bowling, of course. We filmed it in this super cool, family-run bowling alley called Plaza Bowl. They make a mean grilled cheese too, although that’s not in the video.
The single comes off your new album Salt & Honey – what’s the story behind the title?
Pure honey will never ferment or go bad… and neither, of course, will salt. Historically, both salt and honey have been used to preserve things. I think about songwriting as a memory-keeping process, like preserving. Not only that, both salt and honey can also be used to treat a wound. Memory-keeping and wound-healing are the common theme here.
How was the recording and writing process?
My favourite thing about songwriting is that it’s like solving a mystery. The song already exists, in the ether just beyond your perception, and you become the detective, picking up the clues and figuring out how the pieces fit together. If you achieve it and do it justice, you’ve connected with a truth bigger than yourself. It’s a tortuous but oh-so-rewarding process.
Working with Stew Kirkwood (my producer) in the studio is always a great time. We work really hard, but have a fantastic time doing it, and we laugh a lot. The studio is in a converted squash court from the 80’s. It’s all underground, with no windows, and you lose all sense of time. There could be an apocalypse outside, and you would have no idea, you’d just carry on making your record. I love it.
How have Alvvays and Rilo Kiley influenced your writing?
They haven’t, actually. Those are two artists that I’m sometimes compared to (and I do love both of them). I grew up listening to grunge and punk, and I’m influenced by a lot of classics too, everything from Steely Dan to Patty Griffin, Elvis Costello, and Fleetwood Mac. I’m a total fangirl when it comes to Neko Case. And Liz Phair. I’ve listened to Exile in Guyville a million times.
What role does Edmonton play in your music?
There’s a tee-shirt a lot of people wear in this city, that says what is basically our civic mantra: STILL IN EDMONTON. It’s tongue in cheek, but we’re kind of proud about it. Having the grit to stay in a city where the weather basically wants to kill you is a badge of honour. Once I accidentally left a frozen pizza in my car after grocery shopping, and it was absolutely fine, months later! What a dream.
I’m also very grateful to the Edmonton Arts Council, for the grant that helped fund this album. I live in a city that supports the arts AND protects frozen pizzas. It really is amazing.
What aspect of preservation did you get to explore on this record?
There’s a Maya Angelou quote I love: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s so true. I generally forget the details of everything as time goes on. It’s the feelings that I hang on to, try to figure out, and ultimately express through music.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
The album is a combination of songs that were written recently, and some that I’ve been sitting on for a while. It’s a rewarding challenge to let an older song transform and to not be too precious with it. There’s a lot of heartache, frustration, and vulnerability in these songs. I find inspiration in the human experience, in the struggles we all relate to.
Any plans to hit the road?
We’ll be doing some light touring in the spring and summer. I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar cities again, and to visiting some new ones too!
What else is happening next in King of Foxes’ world?
The tarot cards told me to just chill for a bit. And I will. But I’m also writing some new stuff… so it never really ends!