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"Canadian sensibility is something within me"

Interviews and editing by staff writer Jennifer Feinberg, The Chilliwack Progress
September 19, 2003

Nanaimo's rising star, Allison Crowe, takes the Chilliwack Arts Centre stage next Saturday night, in her second-ever Chilliwack performance.

This time it's part of Bozzini's Good Taste Concerts and the 21-year-old singer and piano player is coming to town on Sept. 27. She'll perform with bandmates, bass player Dave Baird and percussionist Kevin Clevette, and special guest, singer-songwriter Erin Tinney of Maple Ridge. Tinney, a cellist, will be playing piano with guitarist Dwight Abell.

Crowe's set list will have some originals and a few covers, including several songs from her upcoming debut album. Her compelling vocals have been compared to Mahalia Jackson, Sarah McLachlan and Eddie Vedder, but Crowe is without doubt an original young artist.

"There was a lot of jazz, classical and rock, in both my immediate and my extended families," she says. "They inspired me to play better, work harder, enjoy what music and being a musician can be, while at the same time being realistic about all that it can bring, good and bad, and also, not to let it go to your head at any time, under any circumstances."

When will your debut album come out? And was it like giving birth or just another day at the office?

We are starting recording very, very soon, and will begin completely independently with a ton of help from some friends. It will be a very meaningful and personal album to all of us. It's going to be a lot of work, but very much worth it. A labour of love, indeed. As for a time frame, some time next year is when everything will be completed. Who knows? The album could be finished in the next few months, but we really want to take our time with this recording and make something as whole as possible.

What was your weirdest gig ever?

An early solo gig in Vancouver at which the house sound guy cranked the volume and reverb on my electronic keyboard, and then left to go drink wine and watch hockey - mid-set!

How do you stay healthy on tour?

I eat vegetables and drink lots of water. The shows themselves are good for exercise... and I drink a lot of hot water and lemon.

Who was the last artist playing on your stereo?

Loreena McKennit. There is an otherworldly quality to her music and a beautiful Celtic sound. There's just something about it that speaks to me, and, she is an artist who forged her own way with her career, so I also really admire her for that.

Which artist, living or dead, would you like to be at the same intimate dinner party with?

Wow, that's a cool question. I would probably say, one person I would like to sit down with is (singer-songwriter-pianist) Tori Amos... and then, the rest of the dinner party guests would be: Janis Joplin, Rufus Wainwright, all of Pearl Jam, all of Counting Crows, Beethoven, John Lennon, (heck, all of the Beatles), Ani Difranco, Loreena McKennit, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor, David Bowie, Maynard (from Tool), Fiona Apple, Nina Simone.

Do you find you have a Canadian sensibility?

I definitely have a Canadian sensibility. It seems to be brought out even more when I go to the U.S.! I think (it comes out) in how often I apologize constantly for little or no reason, and that I have a tendency to be extremely polite. Somehow that seemed to really surprise people in the U.S. when I was there.. that or they laughed at me and told me to stop apologizing. Of course that could just be my own personal thing.
Other than that, I think that my Canadian sensibility is something that is within me everywhere I go. I plan on travelling a lot in my life, but I also believe that Canada will always be my home.

Why did you decide to launch your own label?

For one thing, I really admire Ani Difranco and how she's completely independent, owning her label and company, so I wanted to do something similar to that. Also, I decided to start my own label in order to simplify things business-wise and to retain a certain amount of independence ie. if I were to look at a deal with a major record company, Rubenesque would license my music to the record company, instead of signing myself directly, therefore creating a certain degree of independence and separation. Other than that, I hope my label can be a platform for new artists to get themselves started in a career, or even just a few shows here and there to get themselves out there. I want to basically help other artists out in the same way that I have been helped out all along.