INTERVIEW: Angela Saini

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

I’ve been great! After almost 3 years of writing and demoing 39 songs, a successful crowd-funding campaign and 6 months of recording , I have just released my new album “Hope on the Stereo.” It’s been a lot of hard work but such a blast creating my new record! Thanks for the welcome. J

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “My Once Upon A Time”?

“My Once Upon a Time” is about reaching into the past to define the present. The music video pays tribute to silent movies of the past in the style of Charlie Chaplin, as I play three distinct characters with the carefree, merry spirit associated with childhood.

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

The song was co-written with Japeth Maw and the idea came about while talking about the memories of being a teenager. Growing up in Calgary, I started a rock band in high school, idolizing my favorite bands and wanting to be a rock star. Just as a city changes over time, so does the individual, but you are still left with beautiful memories, no one can take those away from you. Even though I moved away, I’m still that person. I haven’t changed, just my experiences and circumstance. I’ve grown outward and onward, but I’m still that girl who used to drive around with “Hope on the Stereo.”  

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

“My Once Upon a Time” was a crazy timeline to shoot! The vision from director Derek Mok was the silent movies of the past, in the Charlie Chaplin era. We brainstormed three “what if?” scenarios and sourced a ton of props including about 60 vinyl records. I rented a house in Niagara Falls and we stayed up round-the-clock shooting scenes of me dressed as 3 unique characters. It really was a mad dash to the finish line. We only took a break to nap for about 4 hours in the middle of the night and did the last scenes right up until it was time to check out. That were a lot of wardrobe and makeup changes; it was a blast to shoot. I had never dressed up in a mustache before! I portray a young girl, a homemaker, and a business man in a suit.

The single comes off your new album Hope On The Stereo – what’s the story behind the title?

After the success of my single “Living on the Bright Side,” an extremely positive and sunny song, I intentionally wanted to explore the shadows for my next album.  For this project I wanted to show the shades in between light and darkness. Life isn’t just puppies and rainbows all the time and it certainly hasn’t been since my last record. There is a huge spectrum between hope and fear, and people can relate to that in their everyday lives. I think I successfully delved deeper this time, with the songs I chose to record. The precarious balance between light and darkness is a major theme, but hope always tips the balance.

How was the recording and writing process?

I recorded my vocal and guitar parts in my home studio and my live band recorded live-off-the-floor at Pacha Sound in Toronto with co-producer Guillermo Subauste. Recording the band off-the-floor was a great way to capture the sound I have developed with my band. I have been playing with the same guys for over 4 years and it made sense to try to capture that live energy. Recording my own parts in my studio gave me a ton of freedom that I had never had before. I felt really comfortable singing when I wanted, on my terms, and also having the final say in how my voice sounded. The depth of background vocals on this album are possible because in my own space I had the luxury of time, to try just about anything! It’s also why I would say this album sounds the most like ME.

What made you want to seek for a much Americana driven direction?

After I listened to all the songs I had written for the album, I heard a common sound from some of my favorite ones. As an artist that intersects with a few different genres, I intentionally chose the songs that could weave with one another in a common theme. Having played a lot of the songs with my live band already, I could hear how the “stomp” we traditionally have live could be showcased on the record. It’s not traditional country music, but it’s not straight pop or adult contemporary either. I guess you could say you can take the girl out of the prairies but you can’t take the prairies out of the girl!

What role does Canada play in your music?

I was playing a song of mine in Amsterdam a couple years ago (a song called “Sweet Sweet Mouth”) and someone came up to me saying how much they liked my “Canadian song.” It’s a tune about meeting someone you could do without, in a really polite way. It is much easier to kill someone with kindness than to be angry and fight it out, and you don’t have to suffer that way. I guess that could come off as “Canadian” eh?

What aspect of hope and fear did you get to explore on this record?

They are two human emotions on either side of the coin, yet on the same side of the coin also. They come from the same place. They both live in your mind.  The song “Break Down Walls” relates to them like they are roommates, both living in the same house, which is your head. One might be the one you don’t really want to live there anymore; they don’t do the dishes and just complain all the time. The other you wish you could hang out with all the time. They are kind, cool and have lots of fun. These two emotions coexist in your mind and that is okay. Which one do you want to hang out with?

What made you want to touch on these themes?

As an independent artist I feel those two extreme emotions all the time, and every shade in between. I think everyone does, whether it’s fear to make a decision, to make a change, or to have things stay the same. That is a common thread in a lot of the songs, moving through the spectrum between them. In true Angela fashion, there is always a positive tint somewhere in there by the end of the song. Hope on the Stereo.

How did you get to balance both the bright and darkest aspects of the album?

Even if a song came from a darker place, it somehow resolves to take the listener to a better place than where they started. In the song “Look What I Found”  the chorus repeats that I’m “digging this hole, going down, down, down” but the last line is “but look what I found.” The descent was worth it because of what was gained, be that insight, strength, or a resolution.

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

A lot of my personal feelings over the past few years.  After my last tour to Europe I came home feeling totally uncertain about what to do next. I had some “now what?” moments that included feeling doubt and I was looking for clarity, confidence and courage. The movement through those peaks and valleys are really reflected in some of the songs. The song “Handrail” was inspired by a journey on a crammed subway car, there is a classic love song (“The Shine in My Star”) and “My Once Upon a Time” which is basically about memories.

Any plans to hit the road?

I have more Ontario tour dates into the summer and will be playing my first major folk festival in July in London. I have also penciled in my return to The Netherlands this fall.

What else is happening next in Angela Saini’s world?

I will be performing a Canadian Music Week showcase next month and my band and I are doing a weekly residency in Toronto at the Cameron House to celebrate the new album. This summer I plan to record my first song to release for the holidays. It is going to be weird singing about Christmas during a heat wave!

Watch the video for “My Once Upon a Time” here:

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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