It’s difficult to characterize HOMESHAKE, the solo project of Peter Sagar, former guitarist for Mac DeMarco. In the Shower, Sagar’s genre-defying debut album, is a pleasing blend of funk-inspired bass lines, indie melodies and jazzy rhythms — a sound DeMarco jokingly refers to ‘jizz-jazz.’
It was a little tricky to figure out when to leave, but I needed more time to work on my own stuff and do other things…
Now living in Montreal, Edmonton-born Sagar admits it was risky to go out on his own at the height of DeMarco’s meteoric rise to success. “It was a little tricky to figure out when to leave, but I needed more time to work on my own stuff and do other things I missed so much on the road, like cooking dinner with my sweetie and watching shitty action movies.”
But with risk comes reward, and Sagar’s decision to go it alone seems to have paid off. His self-titled EP, The HOMESHAKE Tape, and full-length album In the Shower were both favourably received by critics and fans alike, with Exclaim! giving the latter 8 out of 10.
Given the leapfrogging of cities and countries that occurred with DeMarco, it’s impressive that Sagar found the time to write and record both HOMESHAKE releases while touring. “Playing on the road every night leaves me with very little energy or time to come up with new ideas, so it took quite a while to get the album on tape. But I’m a patient guy,” he says.
He’s quick to explain that despite the challenges of touring, he cherished his time on the road with DeMarco and Co. “We’d be in a new place for weeks and months at a time and, being a bit of a homebody, I’d get pretty tired of it. But I was with some of the world’s finest men. We could have been working dishwashing jobs together and it still would have been great.”
He speaks warmly of his past experiences, but also acknowledges the perks of being able to set his own schedule now. Rather than assembling riffs and bits of songs at sound checks or during brief moments of downtime, he’s able to really focus on achieving his goals as a solo artist. “I’ve been getting a lot of work done, and it’s a lot more satisfying to work on something brand new instead of recording songs you wrote nine months ago.”
The HOMESHAKE Tape was definitely a bridge between the music I’d been writing while living in Edmonton and after moving to Montreal. It’s got a bit more of a cohesive sound.
Perhaps it’s this immediacy that contributes to the fluidity of In the Shower. “The Homeshake Tape was definitely a bridge between the music I’d been writing while living in Edmonton and after moving to Montreal. It’s got a bit more of a cohesive sound.”
Sagar is one of many creative Edmontonians — like DeMarco — whose work has been positively influenced by moving to cities like Montreal, where the music scene is arguably more progressive. He explains, “Being somewhere larger that a lot of artists move to, [Montreal] has a wider variety of ideas being explored. Living [there] has helped me to think outside my own box.”
The hectic touring cycle might have stopped for now, but Sagar does plan to take HOMESHAKE on the road. “We’ve got some real hot players in the group,” he says. For the moment, he’s enjoying the simplicities of home life that have eluded him over the past few years. “Every morning I wake up in my own bed and make myself some breakfast. This is the life baby, oh yeah.”
In the ten years since Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg started First Aid Kit, they have been going non-stop. The indie-folk duo got their start when their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” went viral, and have since released four albums, won five Swedish Grammis awards, and brought two of their idols to tears on live television. Following a brief hiatus, and four years after their last record, Stay Gold, First Aid Kit is back with Ruins, a raw account of losing love and finding yourself. In the middle of a North American tour, Georgie talked to Klara and Johanna about the new album and what brought them to Ruins. G—You’ve said in past interviews that Stay Gold was a more put-together, polished kind of album, and Ruins is a lot rawer. What caused that shift? JS—The production of Stay Gold is very lush and elegant, and I think that’s what we wanted at the time. But we started longing for this rawness, this almost lo-fi aspect that we had on our first records. [For Ruins]…our attitude was that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If we sing a bum note or there’s a little crack
Charlotte Cardin is on track to having her biggest year yet. The electro jazz-pop singer has been nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Breakthrough Artist of the Year at next month’s Juno Awards. Along the way, she has performed at Osheaga—an experience she calls “surreal”, having attended for years growing up in Montréal—and Festival d’été de Québec where she opened for Sting and Peter Gabriel. More recently, she has been touring behind her EPs Big Boy (Cult Nation Records, 2016) and Main Girl (Sony Music, 2017). Through this past September and October, she supported Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker), and she’s been on tour with BØRNS since January. This spring, Cardin will headline her own dates. Prior to her full-time career in music, Cardin modelled in fashion which afforded her pocket money and freedom to work on her art. She also competed on the first season of La Voix, a francophone Canadian version of The Voice. But being on television, like modelling, was never her passion. “I never really felt that much pressure when I was on TV. For me, there’s something a lot more real about what I’m doing right now.” She feels more pressure performing her own
Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad