Winter Comes to Pender Island

Last week, Old Man Winter made a special trip to the Southern Gulf Islands, covering us with layers upon layers of snow. I guess he wanted to see what all the hype was about for a place that was featured in the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2016.” Though the snow made travel quite treacherous, it turned the island into a winter wonderland, like something out of a storybook. I’m used to the snow from living in Calgary most of my adult life, but thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of it here on the island.

A week ago, I joined some friends and went tobogganing at the local golf course, which has an amazing hill! We had plenty of good runs and some equally awesome wipeouts and left before the snow started falling too hard. Unfortunately that didn’t stop me from getting stuck and not being able to get out of the parking lot without a tow from a kind passer-by. It was a harrowing drive home, but I made it without incident. Well, I almost made it. We live at the top of a really steep hill, so I opted to park at the bottom and walk up for fear of not making it.

We’ve spent a lot of time holed up inside the house while the snow was falling, and even though I’m enjoying this wintery season, I’m glad the snow has melted and we’ve had some days of sun and warmth…a glimmer of spring that is coming soon! I had started pruning all the fruit trees and that progress got halted because of the snow so as soon as I can I’ll be back at it.

Enjoy these shots of our magical winter wonderland, and I hope you’re enjoying winter wherever you are as well! Any crazy weather that has happened your way this year?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Dearestly vinyl giveaway by sharing a story about putting on a brave face and overcoming your fears! Check out this post for more info and to enter!

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Stay safe out there, friends!

❤ Lauren.

Share Your Brave Face Story and Win a Deluxe Vinyl

brave-face-contestAfter writing about the inspiration behind the song Brave Face, and the recording process that helped make it what it is, I thought it would be really neat to hear your stories of overcoming fear and insecurity and being brave. We all have so much to share and learn from each other, and when we do that it makes us a lot more connected, and builds a strong community.

So, share your story by commenting below with your story, and on February 17 I will randomly choose someone who will receive a signed Dearestly deluxe vinyl!

If you missed the post about my experience writing Brave Face, you can check out this post, where you can also watch a live ukulele version of the song.

I can’t wait to be inspired by you!

Much love,
Lauren.

Behind the Song: Brave Face

Since I released Dearestly last year, I’ve been wanting to share some of the stories behind the songs and how they came to be. Some I began writing as early as 2013, and some were written while we were in the studio recording just last year. Some were written on the road, some at home, some taking an afternoon to finish while others took years. Over the next little while, I’ll be showcasing the stories behind a few of the songs from Dearestly: what inspired them, where I wrote them, and some interesting stories surrounding them. If you’re part of the Exclusive Content Project, you’ll also get exclusive access to an EP with never-before-heard demos and early versions of the song from its inception all the way through the writing process. To sign up for the Exclusive Content Project, go to www.laurenmannmusic.com/exclusives. If there’s a particular song you’d like to hear about, please comment below or send me an email (oddfolk(at)laurenmannmusic(dot)com). I always love hearing what songs you connect with!

This month I wanted to tell you about the song Brave Face, which was the first single from Dearestly, and I think the song that took the longest to finish writing. Brave Face began with the working title of Who Are You* in early 2013 when we were living in the rural town of Brooks, AB. Our house was a 250 square foot cabin (you may remember me sharing some photos of life at The Cabin) and we had one room set up as a living space with keyboards and a small table, and the other room as a bedroom. I remember writing the first verse and the melody of the pre chorus of the song and being really excited about where it was going, but it didn’t go anywhere for a long while. I worked on the song on and off for months, and made some headway when we were in Quebec later that year, but for the life of me I couldn’t write a chorus.

It wasn’t until I began pre-production for the album in early 2015 that the song began to take its finished form. I went to Vancouver to work on a song with Howard Redekopp before I knew he’d be producing the album, and we decided to work on Brave Face as a sort of trial run. I played what I had for him, he came up with a melody idea for a chorus, I scribbled down some lyrics and we recorded a demo that was very similar to how we recorded the final product. Later that year in Calgary, I was going over the lyrics of all the songs for the album with Josh Rob Gwilliam, and he had some brilliant inspiration that turned into the prechorus:

“Set course to love, make stops on the way, frame all the finest memories.”

With that, the song was finished only two-and-a-half years later. It was a really fun song to record, especially with the slow down into the bridge. We tried mapping out the tempo, but Kurt Dahle who played drums just went for it and on the first take it sounded like it should, so we formed everything else around that.

To me the song has a sunny day, windows down, road trip sort of feel. It makes me think of spontaneous adventures, taking risks, and having lots of laughs. There wasn’t one specific experience that inspired Brave Face, rather it was more of a collection of thoughts and musings. I’ve often felt inhibited by fear and insecurity, letting the timid side of my personality dominate instead of acting on my goals and ambitions. The prospect of failing and other unnecessary worries can be extremely debilitating if you let them be. I’m thankful to be married to a visionary and doer who, as soon as he has an idea, immediately figures out how to make it happen. He has been a huge inspiration to me, and has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and do things that on my own, I probably would have been too afraid to do (like touring, recording, and all the crazy wonderful things I’ve been able to do as we’ve been pursuing music). Even so, with all the touring we’ve done and the countless circumstances where I’ve had to go out on a limb and face my fears, I still face the crippling self-doubt but I’m learning to not let it rule my life and dictate what I do. So I suppose this song was an anthem to myself, to rise above the fear and insecurity and pursue what I’m passionate about. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Do you have a story about putting on a brave face? I’d love to hear how you deal with fear, insecurity, or other obstacles in your life. Comment below or send me an email!

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t listened to Dearestly, you can check it out on my website: www.laurenmannmusic.com. To get exclusive access to the Brave Face EP with demos and unreleased tracks, sign up for the Exclusive Content Project HERE.

Much love,
Lauren.

*If you own the CD or Vinyl copy of Dearestly, you may have noticed that the second track on the album is called Who Are You, not Brave Face. Who Are You was the original working title of the song, and it wasn’t until we came up with the final track listing that I decided to call it Brave Face. Somehow though, during all the editing of the copy for the album art work I completely missed the fact that it was still titled as Who Are You, and it got printed like that. 🙂

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An Afternoon on Mont Royal

Some of you may have seen my Instagram post yesterday about songwriting. I was flipping through my notebook and realized that I didn’t get many songs written last year. It seemed to be the year of bits and pieces. While I sometimes allow that to make me feel guilty for not “doing my job” or being creative enough, the truth is that there is a place for bits and pieces of inspiration that had a great start, but didn’t go anywhere. Now those little voice memos and scribbled notes are starting points, launching me into a new season of songwriting. I feel very inspired and though it can be a slow go like any creative endeavour, I’m excited to diligently work through all the bits and pieces from last year’s writing and watch them turn into beautiful songs.

One of the reasons that there weren’t as many songs being written last year was our focus on releasing Dearestly, and the huge tour we went on in the fall. While in Monteral, I got to spend a few hours before our show to take some photos with my friend Stéphane Lord on the beautiful Mont Royal. If you haven’t been to Montreal, Mont Royal is a small mountain in the middle of the city, home to a sprawling park full of forests, pathways, and parkland that makes you forget you’re in one of the largest cities in Canada. Most of the leaves had fallen when we were there making for a barren landscape that gave a stark backdrop to the bold, velvet outfits I decided to wear.

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Velvet Maxi Dress: Free People // Embroidered Cape: vintage // Velvet Skirt: vintage Holt Renfrew // Turtleneck: vintage Ralph Lauren

Makeup: Pure Anada

Cheers,
Lauren.

Memorable Moments of 2016

This past year was a lot different than years past but it was filled with so many wonderful moments and was a significant year for us in many ways. I had a lot of fun looking back at photos from the year and thinking of what some of the highlights were. Even though we’re already a few days into 2017, I thought I’d share them with you (in no particular order).

This was our first full year living on Pender Island and we spent a lot of our home time exploring different spots on the island. There are so many nooks and crannies and beautiful viewpoints and all of them feel like a totally different place and leave me awe-inspired every time. Living on this beautiful island will never get old, and I love being able to share it with friends and family.

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One of the biggest blessings about this year was being able to host friends, family, and musicians in our house. At the beginning of the year I joined about 10 other friends for a collaborative benefit concert, and we spent many evenings rehearsing in our house. We hosted eight house concerts and lots of guests come through, and we even got to be part of helping our friends WhiteBird record their first album. It was a musically fulfilling year, for sure!

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In the spring we gathered up the Fairly Odd Folk and hit the road for a two week tour through Alberta. It was a joyous time, made even more fun by the presence of Phoenix, our three year old honourary tour manager.

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Also in the spring we filmed a few music videos with very talented friends of ours, and I had my first acting roles! We filmed the Hibernate video with Ross and Madison Bodenmann here on Pender Island, and then flew to Ontario to film the Brave Face music video (and another one which we’ll be releasing soon) with Cole and Lydia of Portage Creative. It was really fun and stretching to do a little bit of acting in the videos, something I haven’t done before but I really enjoyed it!

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In the summer I spent a LOT of time in my garden. It still doesn’t look like much, but I did a lot of weeding and built a couple garden beds. This year I hope to clean up more of the garden and do some planting as well.

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In the summer we got to be part of the Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife, NWT. It was the first time to Canada’s north for all of us and we were enamoured by the wonderful community and the long summer nights. Someday I’d love to visit in the winter and check out the northern lights.

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The highlight of the year for me was FINALLY releasing Dearestly, my second studio full length album. I recorded it in fall of 2015 with Howard Redekopp and Josh Gwilliam at the lovely OCL Studios, and being able to finally share it with the world after a long wait has been so wonderful. It’s very humbling to release music that is so close to my heart and have it be part of so many people’s lives. The album is still a pay-what-you-feel download on my website, and we have CDs and vinyl too, so feel free to check it out if you haven’t yet!

In the fall Zoltan and I got to take Dearestly on the road with a 50 date solo tour across Canada. He built a beautiful stage set up and I came up with a really fun solo set, and we headed out on a long adventure. We got to see many of you, and that was the highlight for me, reconnecting with friends and making so many beautiful new connections.

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We finished the year at our home on Pender with sweet Maxine (our kitty, if you haven’t yet been acquainted) and a quiet Christmas and New Years. It’s wonderful to be back in our house and spend time with our friends who I missed like crazy when we were on tour. I’ve been able to do a lot of reflecting on the past year, and look ahead to 2017 and set some goals and intentions. I am so grateful to the growth that happened last year, and I am so excited to see what adventures lay ahead for us in 2017! Happy New Year to all of you, and I hope to do more writing on here in the coming weeks and months.

Cheers,
Lauren.