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INTERVIEW: Nick Teehan

Hi Nick, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for having me! I’m so good. I moved to Montreal from Toronto recently and I’ve been enjoying the serious winter out here. I got cross-country skis and I am out in the frigid sunshine most days huffing away on my local trails.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Just Waiting”?

“Just Waiting” kind of asks the question ‘are you ready for your life to begin’? It’s about that yearning that we all feel to be a finished product; I like the idea of a song with a dark and twisted sounding chorus but a hopeful message.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I was taking a writing retreat in a secluded cottage in north Ontario February. There was  very deep snow everywhere and I was alone for several days. It was kind of a moment where I decided to give myself the permission to create music and art with real intention. This song was one of many that came of it, and it has a very affirmational kind of tone. It felt like a victory over the elements when it was finished.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! The video came out a few weeks ago. We filmed in Philadelphia with Red C Media. The ‘personal demons’ of the song is personified by a creepy snake man who chases me! Also I fall down the Rocky steps, which has always been a dream of mine. My wrist was actually pretty badly hurt. Good times.

The single comes off your new album These Little Things – what’s the story behind the title?

During winter writing retreat I had this moment where the title track came to me: I was walking on a secluded road in the woods and I realized that if I slipped into a snow bank or something and needed help I would probably be on my own. I rushed back to the cabin and wrote a song about haunting my wife as a ghost. The lyric “these little things remind me of you” is about me, the ghost, trying to communicate and interact with the traces of her world I can still see. There’s a jazz standard called “These Foolish Things (remind me of you)” that kind of inspired it in part.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote and recorded about 50% of the album up north. The rest of the writing and recording was in Toronto over the course of a few years. I called in a lot of favours, like one day my friend snuck me into a television studio where we could record their 9 foot grand piano. The whole thing was a very scrappy affair done thanks to a generous network of friends and colleagues.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?

I tend to do the first phase of writing alone, and then I work with my band to polish and finish my ideas. I have rarely written seriously with other songwriters, but I look forward to the right opportunity when it comes up.  I am a bit of a bully with my ideas, though, so I’m wary of subjecting other songwriters to my methods.

How Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright has influence your writing?

I have a lot of influences, but Rufus Wainwright’s early work was important for me. I saw him in a GAP commercial when I was like ten years old and I was hooked. It probably took nearly 10 years to even know who that was, but it really influenced me. I kind of steal from a lot of writers, and I have imitated a lot of singers in the past; I feel a little more comfortable in my own skin now, so I think it’s a bit harder to trace those little winks.

What role does Sofia play in your music?

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Sorry, I just googled that. I don’t play music with anyone named Sofia. Well, Sofia Perlman sometimes, but not for a few years, and not on any recordings.

What were some of the metaphors and emotions did you get to explore on this record?

I think I’m a storyteller first, and there’s a lot of romance in this record, albeit sometimes misguided. Whether it’s the transactional attention of an on-the-run con-man (Wrong Side of History), the self-obsessed narcissism of the serial dater (Snake in the Grass), or the bleary-eyed devotion of the gig-working millennial (You’re Everything to Me) I think this record touches on different permutations of how we connect. I dedicated this record to my wife, and I think the best and the worst of what we can offer in relationships is on display here.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I’m always thinking of little turns of phrase and jotting them down or recording them in my phone. I read a lot of trashy magazines and listen to a lot of dumb podcasts, so I think I can claim that it just comes out of thin air!

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! The release will be in Toronto on March 26th and 27th and then I’ll be in Montreal March 30th, Ottawa April 6th and Kingston April 12th. More dates in the works, stay tuned!

What else is happening next in Nick Teehan’s world?

My album launched September 29th. I have a music video coming out next week for my second single ‘Wallace Bridge’ made using magazine clippings and stop-motion photography, it’s my first solo effort in  video production! I am also launching a new video series on YouTube called “Collabsies” where I interview and collaborate with my musician friends, the first episode with saxophonist Karen Ng is coming in March. I’ll be doing a YouTube live-stream recording “Saint Clarens Records” on March 24th.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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