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Interview with Midnight Sparrows
What got you into music, and what would you be doing today if you had not gotten into music?
I grew up with older siblings and when I was still a little kid of like 3 or 4 years old they were already teenagers or young adults. So as a kid I would listen to my older siblings’ albums. This was in the 1970s when KISS was one of the biggest bands in the world and KISS in particular was the band that made me fall in love with and want to play Rock music. Music has been my life’s passion ever since.
In addition to my music career, I do also have a professional career. I have spent most of my professional career working in and around the urban Indigenous non-profit sector, and I also have a Master’s degree in Urban Studies.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I’m not playing music I spend a whole lot of time collecting vinyl and listening to music, and certainly, I am influenced and inspired by other artists. Aside from that, I spend time doing typical stuff like socializing with friends, reading, watching movies, or binge-watching TV shows. Life experience can influence my creativity at any time, sometimes quite unexpectedly.
How long have you been making music?
I first started playing guitar when I was 11 or 12 years old, and almost instantly I started writing music. I was in my first band by the time I was 12 or 13 years old and performed live for the first time not long after that.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I am based out of Vancouver now, but I grew up in the Edmonton area. Edmonton has long cold winters so I spent a lot of time indoors playing guitar when I was growing up. Now that I live in Vancouver, I do find that being near the ocean and mountains can be quite inspirational.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I launched Midnight Sparrows during the COVID pandemic so shows haven’t been as plentiful as I would have liked. Things have opened up again though, and I did recently play a show in Prince George that was super cool. I opened up for a band called The Unearthing which features Paul Jago who used to be the lead singer of a band called The Gandharvas. The Gandharvas were one of my favorite Canadian bands back in the 90s and I saw them a bunch of times when they would come through Edmonton. I got to know Paul at that time and we’ve stayed in touch over the years.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favorite venue to play in Vancouver is The Roxy. It’s a great room with great sound, and it always has a great crowd. I would love to get a chance to play at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver someday as well. I would also like to play the Starlight Room in Edmonton again at some point. I used to play there all the time in the 90s and early 2000s, when it was known as The Rev, and I’d love to get a chance to play back there with my latest project Midnight Sparrows.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
That’s a great question! I love Classic Rock and one band from that era that is still touring is The Who. They are huge influence for me and it would be a dream come true to play on a bill with them. I’m also a fan of 90s Alternative Rock and one of my favorites from that era is Pearl Jam. I think The Who, Pearl Jam and Midnight Sparrows would make a great triple bill.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
The advice that I always give to younger musicians is to stay true to yourself as an artist and make the type of music that you would want to hear. There were times earlier in my music career where I made certain creative decisions because I thought it would be more appealing to radio or a certain type of audience, and I often regretted those decisions.
The advice I would give to my younger self is to try a little harder and don’t settle so easily. I’ve always been a good songwriter, but in previous bands we often just jammed things out in the rehearsal room and said that’s good enough. We weren’t really intentional with our arrangements. With Midnight Sparrows I’m more inclined to add different layers and embellishments to the music and I think that results in a fuller sound.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That’s a tough question. The new Midnight Sparrows album, Born In The City, has a few songs that are quite meaningful to me for different reasons. I guess I would have to say the title track, Born In The City as that song is very much about my own lived experience as an urban Indigenous person.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Promise You from the new album is one of my favorites to play. That song has a very prominent shred guitar solo at the end of the song which is super fun. Aside from the lead single Butterfly Wings, the song Jesus In Hollywood seems to be gaining the most traction and is the most requested.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I could be struck with a songwriting idea at any moment of any day. Sometimes songwriting truly does feel like a gift that is beyond me. At times it’s almost like there’s this otherworldly force that says here take this song and do something with it. That’s not to say that I’m never intentional in my songwriting because I am. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea on guitar and then go from there. Other times I come up with a lyric or vocal melody first, it just depends. You never know when inspiration is going to hit you.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I like storytelling in songwriting so I often like to tell a story of some kind. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perceptions of good and bad or light vs. dark so I think that has crept into the storytelling on this current album.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m currently exploring the possibility of setting up some shows here in Vancouver, and as I mentioned earlier I would love to get back to Edmonton and do a show there as well so I’m thinking about maybe doing a tour through western Canada at the very least. I don’t currently have a permanent band so I would like to put a full band together and assemble a permanent lineup for Midnight Sparrows. That would make planning and booking shows so much easier.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
You can keep up to date on Midnight Sparrows through the Facebook page or the website at www.midnightsparrows.com. Please also check out the YouTube channel. Thanks!