Juno award-winning singer-songwriter Julie Doiron has been making pleasant noise for 22 years.
From her time as bassist/vocalist in ‘90s noise pop legend Eric’s Trip to her solo work and constant collaborations (Wooden Stars, Snailhouse), the 40-year-old mother of three has cemented her place as Canada’s queen of indie cool (sorry Feist) with her latest disc, So Many Days.
Working for the third time in a row with ex-boyfriend and Eric’s Trip bandmate Rick White as producer on Days was a natural choice. The records have a lot more diversity than her mellow solo work from the early ‘00s.
“In a lot of ways it is a bit of a trilogy,” Doiron says over the phone from the road.
But the pair never had intentions of creating a series.
“When I made the first record with him (2007’s Woke Myself Up) I wasn’t necessarily sure, I didn’t have any plans beyond that,” she says. “After I made that next record (2009’s I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day) we had both decided that I would do this one with him. So in a lot of ways it is a bit of a trilogy. Although that being said, I’m pretty sure I’m going to work with him again, though I don’t know what the word is for a quad.”
Days marks the first time that Doiron and White worked exclusively on a record without any other players. White handled most of the instruments and even sent the disc off to Doiron’s new label, Aporia, without her hearing the final mix.
“I trust Rick,” she says. “It had to all be done really quickly to reach the deadline of when it was supposed to come out (due to a grant from the New Brunswick government). It kind of rushed everything a little bit.
“We don’t really need to communicate too much, we know each other pretty well. He really has a lot invested in it as a friend. I trust him fully and I tend to leave the songs with him for a while and come back and hear what he added to them. It’s fun to work that way.”
The record is equal parts sporadic rock and intimate ditties, all peppered with Doiron’s elegant melodies. As a whole the disc is hopeful, while equally documenting the good and the bad.
“I tend to let the songs dictate themselves,” she says. “We end up always treating each song individually. Initially, I wanted to make the whole album really lush and I wanted to make a big production, but then some of the songs Rick and I just decided worked the way they were, more sparsely.
“Some of the songs are pretty intensely sort of sad, but I think for the most part I tried to stick with the positive. I think that a little of what we were trying to do with this one was show the various emotions that people experience either day to day or throughout their lives.”
Doiron is as known for her solo work as she is for collaboration, which includes work with (deep breath) Gord Downie, Mount Eerie, Shotgun and Jaybird, Okkervil River, and Daniel Romano & Frederick Squire (as Daniel, Fred and Julie) to name a few.
This September she released a 7” as Julie Doiron and the Wrong Guys with Mike Peters and Jaye Schwarzer (Cancer Bats) and Eamon McGrath.
With all of these collabs being incredibly positive, it’s hard to pick a favourite.
“Working with someone like Gord (Downie) is really great,” she says. “Everyone I’ve worked with, the Wooden Stars (with whom she shared a Juno in 2000 for Alternative Album of the Year) and the record I made with Herman Dune (2005’s Not on Top), was a good experience. I feel really lucky about the people I work with so I don’t know if I can say there’s one in particular.”
After all of that collaboration, there are still a few people she’d like to work with.
“I would love to try and do something with Chad VanGaalen at some point,” she says. “I would really like to do something again with Mount Eerie because I think that that’s really a nice project.
“I’ve been really, really lucky and I feel all the things I’ve been a part of have taught me so much and everything that I’ve done has been so positive.”
Julie Doiron on the three studio LPs from Eric’s Trip
Love Tara, 1993
Though it was preceded by a 1990 indie cassette, Love Tara was the breakthrough for the Moncton, New Brunswick quartet, which became the first Canadian band to sign to Sub Pop. The haunting lo-fi tape hiss was present on the big songs and the little. “I guess everybody loves Love Tara because that’s the first one they heard, at least that’s what I feel. People have that reaction to it.”
Forever Again, 1994
18 songs crammed into 42 minutes is a lot to digest, but Doiron sees it as her personal favourite. “I have a really soft spot for Forever Again. Maybe I feel more towards it because of what was going on at the time and all the different changes in our lives. I was pregnant during the recording of that, Rick (White) and I had broken up and it was all sort of a big deal in my life. (When I hear it) I kind of am transported back to the time I when I was making the record.”
Purple Blue, 1996
The final studio LP from the band is seen as a controversial one in that it was engineered by Bob Weston (Nirvana), abandoning the lo-fi hum for a near slickness. Though it’s not what anyone would refer to as a “polished” record, it is considered a minor misstep in a beloved recording career by many fans, despite being home to Doiron standouts “Eyes Shut” and “Soon, Coming Closer.” “It was pretty different than the first stuff, but that’s where we had gotten to live. We were doing that kind of sound more at that point.”