The Fairly Odd Hillcrest Folk

It’s always humbling to hear other people sing covers of my songs, but walking into a school gymnasium and hearing 300 kids singing Brave Face took that feeling to a whole new level. Their sweet innocence and the purity of all their voices together singing about how they can do anything they put their mind to, was so humbling, so inspiring, so fulfilling.

Let me back up a little bit. Last summer I played a show on Mayne Island, BC and a guy named Brook Roberts was in attendance with his family. Brook is a music teacher in Salmon Arm, BC and had put on a program with Shred Kelly a few years ago where the band came to the school, taught the kids some of their songs and did a concert with them. After our show on Mayne Island, Brook approached us about doing something similar and though we didn’t know what that would entail or how it would look, we were very interested.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we arrived at Hillcrest Elementary School where the grade 4’s and 5’s had been learning seven of my songs since spring break and had been crafting a show around them. They had a different band for each song (drums, bass, piano) and vocal soloists for each verse, about 30 soloists in total! It was amazing to see kids come out of their shell as they played and sang and found their voices even in the few days that we had with them leading up to the show. I was able to do some music mentorship and work on mic technique and stage presence with the soloists, and Zoltan designed an entire production with sound, lights, and smoke and exposed the kids to that side of performing which was totally inspiring for the kids, and the highlight of the show for a lot of them.

We also had the opportunity to visit the other classes in the school and do some Q & A’s, and chat with the kids. One of the classes said that they had had a discussion earlier about their connections to the lyrics of the songs and a few of the kids shared how they had a connection to the song Brave Face because they have dreams of doing big things with their life and that song was an encouragement to them. It was so humbling, and was a really incredible reminder of why I write and play music. These kids have their whole lives in front of them, and if I can give them a little inspiration to follow their dreams, that gives me purpose in what I do because I want to see them be all they can be.

It was an amazing experience that culminated in three concerts with the students that went so well and blew the audiences away. It was amazing to see how they all worked together, shone their lights, sang their hearts out, and made music come alive.

Since being home, Zoltan put together a short film with a live video of one of the songs, Brave Face, that the whole concert centred around, and some shots from our time at the school. I will always hold these students and our time there close to my heart and this video is such a great glimpse into what we did and what the kids accomplished.

Music in the hearts of children is such a beautiful thing and can truly change the world.

Much Love,
Lauren.

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Songwriters Singing Songs about Songwriting

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting the very first Songwriting Intensive at Wildwood Artist Retreat, put on by Ptarmigan Music and Theatre Society. Nine wonderful people decided to come and learn together and we laughed, ate food together, and became friends, all while learning the different aspects of songwriting (including alliteration!), and how to maintain a songwriting practice. On Sunday we had the studio all set up so each participant was able to record a demo of a song they either wrote or were working on during the weekend.

It’s amazing to see how when you get a group of creative people together, the creative and collaborative energy is so great, and we feed off each other. Being a bit of an introvert and not much of a talker, it was tiring for me to be facilitating and teaching the entire weekend but though I was quite exhausted come Sunday evening, I was so full of joy and inspiration and gratitude for the opportunity to share one of my greatest passions with others.

If you’re interested in songwriting and would like some help in the right direction, send me a message! I am definitely planning on hosting more workshops, and I’m also available for individual sessions.

Enjoy these photos from our time this weekend!

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❤ Lauren.

Over Land and Sea Till Now

To celebrate Over Land and Sea’s fifth birthday, we’re having a merch sale! Head to my online store to find Over Land and Sea on CD for only $5, and a ton of stuff including limited quantities of early LMATFOF t-shirt designs, Dearestly black vinyl and Where the Ocean Meets the Sky: A Visual EP on sale as well! You can also finally buy Dearestea and the Exclusive screen printed poster on their own. Sale runs until 05/17/17. ✨

Five years ago I released my first studio album, Over Land and Sea, recorded at the Vanguard Room in Lakeland, FL with Aaron Marsh back in 2011. During the writing and recording process I had no idea that this album would kickstart my music career and open up so many opportunities in the five years following. It was truly a dream come true, and has led us on quite the journey. To celebrate Over Land and Sea’s fifth birthday, I thought I’d dig into the archives and share some of the highlights from the past five years.

Our touring took us all over North America, circling the continent many times and playing a lot of shows! In fall 2012 we got to open for Rusted Root on their American comeback tour, which was an incredible opportunity to share Over Land and Sea with a big audience and play in some really notable venues. There were many nights spent in the van, many long drives, many gas stations, many sandwich making parties in the van…you get the idea. And five years later I can see how the constant movement and lack of home base really took a toll on me in many ways, but I can also look back on those moments with a fondness for the memories that we created that will last a lifetime, and hopefully someday end up in a book.

There have been many people who joined me along the way as Fairly Odd Folk or just plain friends including, but not limited to, Aaron, Mike, Hammer, Jeremy, Jay, Jessica, Josh, Ray, Dane, Darryl, Greg, Adam, Sherry, Mat, Phoenix, and Clark. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these wonderful people and more who have come through my life and through my music in so many ways.

In the past two years we’ve slowed down a lot, even with releasing another album and touring across Canada this fall. We’ve been taking more time off the road, finding a balance between home and work life, and putting down deep roots into our community on Pender Island, BC. In 2014 we started developing the Exclusive Content Project which allows me to spend time throughout the week focussed on my career, and has become a really great way to keep in touch with fans when we’re not touring. It’s been a lot of change but in the best way, and I’m in a better place now more than ever to continue writing and performing and inspiring others to do the same. I never imagined my life looking like this, and even with the hard stuff we’ve gone through, it’s more than anything I could have come up with.

I had a great time going through these photos…what a blast from the past. Lots of good memories. I hope you enjoy looking through them!

❤ Lauren.

Spring Shows and Snows

A few weeks ago I played a small string of shows through Southern BC and Alberta. We combined the shows with some time with friends in Portland and Seattle, an amazing evening seeing Radiohead play in Seattle(!!!), and family time in Calgary for Easter. The shows were so fun, in some really unique venues full of lovely people. The first of the three shows was in Christina Lake, BC, where we had played for the first time on the Dearestly fall tour. Thanks to the venue being right beside an art gallery featuring local artists and artisans, I came home with a lovely handmade mug.

The next night we were in Cranbrook, BC playing at The Stage Door, a really quaint community theatre. The show was really lovely, and it was great to meet so many awesome people. We stayed at the Elizabeth Lake Lodge (HIGHLY recommended if you’re ever in the area) and played a rousing game of mini golf in the morning!

We finished this short run in Black Diamond, AB, a tiny town but with an unusually high number of really unique thrift/vintage/boho/handmade shops. We played at The Westwood, which used to be called The Stop, also highly recommended if you’re ever driving through! I thought I’d share a few shots from the final show of the weekend taken by Mae Bunn. Enjoy!

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XO
Lauren.

Behind the Song: Oregon

Find a mountain to see where you come from
Follow your footsteps back to the forest
You belong here, out in the wilderness
Among the dust that brought you up

In July 2013, we were on tour through America, and on one particular day found ourselves driving from the desert of Oregon to the California coast. We had just played a backwoods festival called Crawfest in Bend, OR (think dusty desert, rockabilly bands, lots of dogs, very windy, and a delicious burger food truck). Instead of staying the night and participating in the late night “activities,”, we got a head start on our drive to San Francisco. It was a long, hot drive, and as we crossed the California border and made our way to San Francisco, I remember seeing hills off in the distant with the glow of fire coming off of them. We had noticed some smoky air on our drives, but seeing the wildfires during the height of California’s drought was a sobering sight.

I remember sitting in the front seat of the van, watching the fiery hills roll by in the distance, thinking of the birth and death that happens so naturally, and the fleetingness of it all. I have always been struck by the contrast of the barren desert and the lush, old growth forests on the west coast, and those paradoxes wove themselves into the pattern of this song. A few weeks before this drive I had penned the lyrics “Even the mountains strong and silent crumble to dust someday,” and as we were driving through those starkly contrasted landscapes, I was inspired to write the verses of Oregon on that drive, and hummed a quick melody idea into my phone. When we got home from tour, I was finally able to sit down and pair the melody and lyrics to some chords I had written shortly before that, but it actually wasn’t until January 2015 that I actually finished the song.

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The Oregon desert behind the site of Crawfest. July, 2013.
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A highway sunset on our way from Bend, OR to San Francisco, CA. July 2013.

It’s one of those songs that has stuck with me for years, and has taken on new meaning as I’ve experienced the paradoxes of life…travelling and seeing so many parts of the world but not having a home to come back to; building relationships and the end of relationships, having plenty and having little. But finding meaning through all the mountains and valleys, and staying grounded in truth and in the purity of nature has helped turn those experiences into beautiful things: memories, songs, and grateful attitudes.

This is probably one of my favourite songs from Dearestly because it captures some intense feelings, both musically and lyrically. It is brooding and haunting, but there is lots of life, and a sense of ethereal wistfulness. Josh Rob Gwilliam (who co-produced Dearestly) had a huge part to play in the soundscape of the song, even encouraging me to re-write the second verse and a few other lyrics. The song mostly took shape in an early pre-production session months before the actual recording. We decided to keep the percussion minimal but build the dynamic with the piano and layers upon layers of different sounds including mellotron, clarinet, vioin, pedal steel, a choir, and lots of harmonies.

I hope you enjoy this live video of Oregon that we recorded at our house. It was so fun to strip the song down and capture the beauty of it, especially with some wonderful friends. Thank you Austin, Josh, Johnny, Charlie, Mat, Bob, Lyn, Katie, Tija, and Nadia for being part of the choir!

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If you are part of the Exclusive Content Project (sign up HERE) you will also be receiving an EP of voice memos and demos of Oregon from throughout the writing process. You’ll be able to hear how the song sounded at various stages, and what changed through the process.

Much love,
Lauren.