I found a track you did on a Townes Van Zandt tribute album – how did being on that compilation come about?
I recorded an album of Townes songs back in 2010 in Holland, the album is called Sorrow & Solitude and it was never released. It's still sitting here on my shelf waiting for the right moment. Honestly I can't remember how that all came together with regard to the Townes Tribute CD. I may have posted a song online and a friend of a friend through the internet somehow got it over to the UK and to those folks who were behind the Townes Tribute.
When did you officially move back to Canada? How much of an adjustment has that been?
I moved back to Canada in January of 2012. about a year and a half ago. and it has been a big adjustment. I hadn't been on Canadian soil for almost 5 years and a lot had changed, within myself and within society. During that 5 year period I was mostly living in Berlin. I moved to Spain for a while to try to figure out where I wanted to relocate my studio, but I couldn't get my papers so I went back to Holland over the winter of 2011. But it was on the Mediterranean in Malaga / staring out at North Africa that I decided it was time to head home (to Canada). So I flew to Toronto and performed a hand full of shows in Ontario and then I immediately rented a cabin on the west coast of Canada and started planning my musical journey.
The first adjustment was the cost of living here, compared to Berlin or Malaga or Amsterdam we pay 3x the prices for food and shelter. so I had to take a job as a delivery person until I could get myself back on the road again that coming summer. Being able to speak English has certainly been a comfort. Mostly I feel like I see and feel Canada with a new heart and new set of eyes. I was away living in Europe for 12 years and I hadn't realized that people were paying attention to what I was up to musically here in Canada. So its been wonderful to feel the love as I travel from coast to coast. I feel like I've been falling in love with this country all over again, or maybe for the first time. It's so god damn beautiful!
And you’re living north of Kamloops? What drew you there? Yes I'm living in a cabin up in the North Thompson Valley in between Jasper and Kamloops. I discovered the area when I performed at Serenity Music Farm in Clearwater this past summer, so I started an online search for cabins in that area. I usually spend the warm months touring and camping and then I relocate myself somewhere new for the winters. Last winter I was living in a remote cabin on the Bay Of Fundy in New Brunswick. I'll ship my recording studio in boxes to each location and spend my winters writing and recording. I also produce albums for other artists which I love. It's a good balance for me to open myself up live half the year and then hibernate the other half year creating music. I'm starting to get the calls now for winter productions. I also write and record for film and television which is a fun little job as well. Some of my songs have appeared on Canadian cop shows like Rookie Blue. It keeps food on my table and allows me to stay in that creative element.
I know this is a very broad question, but what did you learn from performing in Europe that you couldn’t have learned here?
I think pulling ones self out of familiarity is always a good thing. We become soft and dull after a while when things become too comfortable. Planting myself in different countries for me has been a mirror, a self examining mirror, challenging you in ways you never knew existed. Mannerisms in Holland that would be deemed rude in Canadian culture are seen as natural and ok there. You have language barriers, which offer different cues and clues with regard to social gesturing. Food is cooked and served differently. In Germany you would eat raw hamburger on bread with a raw egg served over top. that's breakfast. In Holland you do not chit chat with the waiter or waitress when dining, which is seen as insincere or American. Living abroad is good for the ego, the head and heart. It broadens your perspective and senses and allows your kid brain to feast and find its way back to being useful tool instead of a misguiding flickering light.
Have you felt like you’ve had to rebuild your Canadian cred? I feel like I'm 22 again just starting out on the Canadian road building things up from ground zero. It feels great to have no pressure. I travel from town to town and I perform in small cafes to small audiences and it's all very lovely. I'm making a living doing what I love to do, so I feel blessed.
Broken Things came out last year – is it safe to assume you’re working on something else? With 10 albums under your belt, what are some of the things you strive for with new material? Broken Things was released last winter I believe. and yes I'm always writing and recording. It's important for me to keep planting seeds. I find inspiration from my travels and I write about what I experience. I think the most potent way to get your story across is to have lived it.
Are you able to write on the road? Or is it something that you have to be in one place to do?
Yes I write as I travel, around campfires, in parks or in hotel rooms. I sing ideas into my little hand held recording device and I keep written notes. I feel like a spy, where i get to go out and experience the things that i do from my travels, and then I report back to the song.
When did you know that you that music was the life you wanted? Was there a moment when you absolutely knew? And was the realization a relief or filled with trepidation? (I ask that – slightly tongue in cheek – as a writer!)
I wonder about that sometimes. I think money gets in the way of the artists validation to live an artists life, its always the obstacle. It was one of the first things I noticed when I moved to Holland, that the artist was seen as a necessary part of society, which gives you a lot of validation, it gives you a lot of emotional gasoline and room to breath and create. There are financial aid systems in place in countries like Belgium where the government pays you to survive as a songwriter or a painter. It's a very simple gesture, food and shelter.
I think immediate culture is the real enemy. It coerces you to trade in your instincts and passions for shiny objects and material things. It's all bullshit. It's important to be true to your authentic emotions and passions. But society will always lead you astray. I need to cut myself loose from the tribe and get reacquainted with my natural instincts. There's a lot of value in isolating oneself.
I had a few opportunities when I was in my early 20's where I found myself on the road doing support shows for Blue Rodeo. I was awarded the opportunity to perform in theaters and hockey arenas to some pretty large crowds. I think that's when it really got into my blood. 20 years later I'm still at it.
MICHAEL COUGHLAN - SIXTH AVENUE VERSES (2014)
PRODUCED BY SHANNON LYON
Mike spent a cold week by the fire here at Lost Creek Cabin this past December laying down the bed tracks for his debut album 'The Sixth Avenue Verses'. It's an emotionally haunting collection of songs revealing Mikes talent for infectious story telling and catchy melody.
I invited my favorite cast of musical alchemists in for this recording including Dutch singer Elly Kellner on backing vocals, Dutch keyboarder Mike Roelofs on organ, Berliner Kolja Lieven on electric guitar (Dead Air) and Kitchener, Ontario native Steve Wood on pedal steel.
Song 'DEAD AIR'
DOUGLAS MCLEAN - UNDER A COLD BLACK MOON (2014)
PRODUCED BY SHANNON LYON
cANADIAN singer-songwriter Douglas McLean approached me late in the game on this one. The main tracks for 'Under A Cold Black Moon' were recorded at The Barn in Huntsville, Ontario with Imre de Jonge. Doug then decided to have the collection mixed here at Lost Creek Cabin.
Under A Cold Black Moon unravels with authenticity and shines a light on McLean's emotionally charged life story's that are steeped in heart wisdom.
Song 'AT THE END OF THE TRAIL'
JAMES GRAY - HOME TO ME (2013) - PRODUCED BY SHANNON LYON
In May 2013 I sat down with 21 year old Canadian singer-songwriter James Gray and we recorded 8 songs together in the old red barn in Huntsville, Ontario. We pulled in my dutch team for the sessions, Elly Kellner on backing vocals and Mike Roelofs on keys and I strapped in the Gretsch for a few numbers (Which Side Are You On, We Only Have So Long). It's a cool ride.
Download 'Home To Me' from iTunes:
THE BAND MYRLE RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM (2013)
PRODUCED BY SHANNON LYON
In 2013 I recorded & produced the self titled album by Canadian songwriter Jamie Clarke who goes under the moniker 'Myrle'. We finished most of the album in Huntsville, Ontario where we set up shop in an old barn.
Check out the 'Myrle' website here: http://myrle.ca
Purchase the 'Myrle' digital album online here: http://indiepool.com/MYR01
Jamie has recently posted some of the songs on Youtube.
Have a listen to the track 'Memphis' here: http://youtu.be/gRu5SHBvVHA
LOST CREEK STUDIO - NEW SHANNON LYON ALBUM FOR 2014!
I got me an old cabin up in the valley where im recording a new album with Canadian producer Rob Szabo. Rob has chosen 20 songs from 20 years of my recorded music. Titles include Cornerstore and Last Time I Cried which were some of the first songs I penned as a young lad. This will be a 2014 release and im hoping to have the album available for sale for my 2014 spring/summer tour. SL