Singer-songwriter Paige Cora is set to release her debut album, Instant in Time, on January 24, 2020. Written and produced by the Ft. Erie, Ontario-based artist herself, engineered and mixed by Jae Daniel, and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London by Christian Wright (Ed Sheeran, Franz Ferdinand, Blur, Keane), Instant in Time teems with the confidence of a seasoned performer defining her voice and serves as both a bold manifesto and introduction.
The heartbeat at the center of Instant in Time came together by virtue of how Cora and her core bandmates worked together live off the floor over seven days at Black Rock Studio in Buffalo, New York, intermingled with warm cello accents and everything else members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame added to her song arrangements. “Honestly, I was lifted by all the people I worked with,” Cora readily agrees. “Overall, there was great communication between everyone in the band, and I love the excitement we generated together. It all just flowed really well.”
It also helped that Cora instantly connected creatively with her engineer and Instant in Time right -hand in-studio man, Jae Daniel. “I think we clicked right away because he saw how organic it all was,” she says. “Jae also saw how the team was coming together around me. He saw me as an artist who knew what she wanted to do — someone who wanted to make a certain kind of record. Jae and I had a vision for these songs, and we had long sessions of him and me in the room together making it come to fruition.”
We get to sit with the singer-songwriter to talk more about the title track and more!
– What prompted you to write this song? Was it something specific that inspired it?
Yes, my partner and I were experiencing a year of loss in the family. We were at that phase where you have to make an effort to pull yourself out of grief and start living again. I was looking to create something upbeat that captured that time, and serve as a sort of a nudge in the right direction. Musically it was very inspired by Paul Simon, David Bowie, and Joni Mitchell. It feels like the song is a meld of several of my influences.
– Your music and lyrics seem so perfectly intertwined. Was this a music-first or a lyrics-first song for you? Which way do you tend to write in general, music or lyrics first?
It’s almost always melody first, with one key phrase that gets me inspired to start. Sometimes that first phrase comes out, and I have no clue what it means yet, but I stick with it and expand the idea. For this song, it was “I’m going to live it up like you’d want me to,” a promise to live as fully as possible, having learned from others the fragility of life. I thought, Hey that sounds like a good reason to dance and celebrate, so I knew the song should be more upbeat and have a catchy bass line. I try to decipher the tone of the music, and the way the melody should be sung, it shapes the vowel sounds and the amount of syllables I want to put words to. It’s easy to overcrowd a melody. It’s my favourite part of songwriting because I am so particular about it; it challenges me. Challenges me and drives me crazy at the same time…
– If you had to describe your music using only five adjectives or a phrase, what would you say about it? How do you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it before? How about your live show?
Dreamy, ethereal, evocative, soulful, intimate. I usually tell people I am a singer-songwriter who plays the piano, combining influences like Kate Bush, David Bowie, and Joni Mitchell into a modern pop format. Performing live is something I’ve done since childhood. Plays, musicals, touring the US with my band, I feel very at home on stage. My current band features inductees from the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame; it’s such a pleasure to play with such gifted individuals. I also love playing live with our string players, cello, and upright bass. It changes the atmosphere of a club or venue when that kind of instrumentation is playing.
– How do you think your time in Toronto, as well as moving away from the big city to live a less hectic lifestyle in Ft. Erie, have impacted the music you make?
It was a huge adjustment, but I was so craving it. I grew up in the city, but my extended family all lived out in the Ontario countryside. I was always drawn to that lifestyle when I would visit them, and I knew one day I would leave the city. Once I got to Ft. Erie, the first thing I bought was a 1919 Gerhard Heinztman upright piano, and put it right in the kitchen. In my apartments in Toronto, I could only have keyboards over headphones. Suddenly I could fill the house with music without worrying about neighbours. I’d go play it while I pre-heated the oven, ha ha. For inspiration, I walk outside to our pond and willow tree, or take a walk in the forest. Nature is so impactful, and it’s fostered a more delicate side within me. Being in tune with that wavelength has opened me up, and I believe it’s reflected in anything I write. Living here also got me involved in animal rescue and rehabilitation, and the animals certainly inspire my writing.