These days you’d be hard-pressed to find an artist with as much talent, grit, emotion and an all-around great personality as Jody Quine. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Jody has been very active in the Electronica music scene lending her voice to groups such as Balligomingo
. She is a part of a very elite group of women who are chosen to represent the musings of talented producers and musicians in that genre, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Kristy Thirsk, etc.
What their vocals add to the songs is something that cannot be duplicated with male vocals. And being extremely talented and endlessly aware themselves, many of these bands know that, including Garrett Schwarz and Vic Levak of Balligomingo. Their critically acclaimed debut album, Beneath the Surface, was a look into the future of a genre that has already broken down boundaries within music. If you could clone Beethoven and drop him into 2012 with a synthesizer, computers, and a full on orchestra, you’d have Balligomingo.
The Electronica genre is sadly one of the most overlooked, underrated, and misunderstood music today and also the most underestimated for its commercial value. Many think of Electronic music as fist-pumping club dance music. And while that is true to only one facet of the genre, it is also comprised of umbrella terms, such as foreground listening, background music or chillout lounge music, techno, drum and base, downtempo, and ambient are just among a few. The categories can sometimes be so blurred that many Electronica groups themselves can and will dip into not one, but two umbrella categories when they remix or have their songs remixed by other artists or DJ’s, such is the case in Balligomingo, Sleepthief, Delerium
, and Conjure One
After the success of their first album, Beneath the Surface, of which Jody was a featured vocalist on the song “Purify”, Garrett and Vic joined forces with Jody to become a trio. Schwarz says of Quine, “Jody has been a critical element in writing lyrics and vocal melodies with us. It was a no brainer that we were a group. The first album was more of my own project with Vic really helping to make it happen, and this album relies more heavily on the talents of all three of us.” Purify, in fact was so successful of a single, it hit #3 in the US, and had a video in regular rotation in Australia and the UK. It was because of this commercial success and their working chemistry, that Jody began touring with Balligomingo to support the album in 2001. Under an Endless Sky was Balligomingo's sophomore effort but first as a group and delivered just as the first one did with thoughtful lyrics and just as ethereal vocals.
Before Jody became the third member of Balligomingo, she also shared the stage with well-known artists such as Art Bergman, Ron Sexsmith, Jim Cuddy, Mark Browning (OX), and Kevin House. She’s sung for Sean Penn, David Duchovny, Luke Wilson, Courtney Taylor (Dandy Warhols), Michael Chavez (John Mayer), Steve Lukather (Toto), and Miguel Ferrer. She has worked closely with the group Sleepthief as a vocalist/co-writer on their first single “Eurydice” on the debut album, The Dawnseeker, and is now featured on the title track, Mortal Longing of their new self title EP, Sleepthief. You may also recognize her songs from television shows including Queer As Folk and Dark Blue.
You would think with all of this work, that she’d barely have time for a shower, let alone raising a family and a marriage, but she does it all in stride. Jody, like many other female singer/songwriters in the music business, has found that happy median between doing what you love and loving what you do. Her passion for music and the arts is supported by her husband, and her love for her family and children is supported by her co-workers and friends in the industry. It’s quite the remarkable position to be in, but she’s proven it can be done.
I’ve been extremely lucky in many ways in my life and one is that I have gotten to meet some extraordinary women who happen to be singer/songwriters. If they’ve taught me anything it’s that being tough and knowing who you are will get you so many more places than just being happy with the status quo. I began communicating with Jody through her twitter account, @JodyQuine
, and she has been gracious enough to grant me an interview. Here is what came of that awesome exchange.
EC: I know you discovered your passion for singing and music at an open mic, but how were you discovered professionally and how did you hook up with Balligomingo?
JQ: I had made quite a few connections in the music business singing at other open mic's in Vancouver actually, and one of the many talented people I had become friends with was Stefan Sigurdson. He agreed to produce my solo record and we chose Hush Sound to record at. This is Vic's studio! While tracking vocals at Hush, Garrett overheard me singing and suggested to Vic that I might be a good addition to Balligomingo.
EC: What would you say is the draw for you towards Electronica, what is it about that genre of music that you gravitate towards?
JQ: I think Electronica was more drawn to me first! I really wasn't aware of the genre until I started singing in it. I love the vibe that Electronica can create. It can be huge and sweeping while pulsing in the right way or it can be sparse and cold but still hitting the right spot.
EC: How did the decision arise for you to become the 3rd legal partner of Balligomingo?
JQ: Vic and Garrett had taken some space in their working relationship but I continued to work with both of them. It was quite natural for all of us to work together when it came to writing the next album. I think the fact that I had co-written the first single with Vic and then toured with Garrett for Balligomingo put me in the right position to be a musical bridge and vocalist for our future endeavors.
EC: You're a wife and mother, how do you find ways to balance your work life and your home life? Do you find it more difficult to summon that creative muse when you need to sit down
JQ: For years I put my music and creative needs aside. I was still recording and releasing music but it became so far down the priority list that my soul was suffering. I decided that it was time to get back to being me as well as a mother and wife, and since doing so everybody is happier for it. It can be challenging for sure because there is less of me to go around, but what I have to 'give' to my family now is so much richer. Once I got back in the habit of allowing and creating space for my creative needs it had become just part of the routine.
EC: What can we expect from your upcoming solo CD? Any surprises?
JQ: Oh wow, good question! It's been quite a long time since I've released anything of my own. I hope the fans can still connect with what it is I do. I'm more singer/songwriter than anything else, so maybe not any surprises but a shifting of gears that might take some fans by surprise.
EC: Do you find a big difference between your work with Balligomingo and Sleepthief to what is being created for your solo CD?
JQ: Absolutely. My melodies and my voice are still my melodies and my voice but my solo record is going to be just a few organic instruments and me. I'm aiming for space to have a voice that's really my goal creating room for the sounds that I hear, supporting the vocals with a few chords but not overwhelming the song with sound.
EC: Is there a specific ritual you follow for writing a song? Some artists can be very regimen about how they write, while others can have choruses or melodies come to them while in the shower. The methods can vary from artist to artist, what would you say is your way of writing?
JQ: It can happen in so many different ways but I think the most usual is finding a guitar riff I like and then visiting it until the rest of the song (melody then lyrics) reveal themselves.
Sometimes I can take notes and really want to write a song about a certain thing but quite often a song unfolds for me. I can guide it but not dictate it. If I do it doesn't feel authentic to me and then doesn't sit well when I perform it. I usually just trust the process and what songs may come.
EC: You're very active in social media, you have a Facebook page, twitter account, you're on Spotify, YouTube… How has the social media craze helped your career and what do you see as the pros and cons of the trend?
JQ: It's been so amazing for me over the last few years. Since having my littles it's really affected my ability to get out there, play/perform, meet people, network etc. But Facebook first and now Twitter has given me a stage upon which to meet and make fans as well as new friends. There are also so many opportunities to explore and become a part of, I love it! My husband is not a fan of sharing me with the internet or me sharing our life with the masses though, that would be my con. lol.
EC: Who has been the biggest influence for you on your career?
JQ: Musically or Co-creatively?
Musically there are a few artists I love but I've noticed the trend is great melodies, voices I love to harmonize with, and thought provoking lyrics. Any of these 3 combined or individually can influence me. If I like a song or record I can listen to is repeatedly for months/years.
EC: Are there any issues you are really passionate about? Whether it be social or political, charities that you work with that are close to you heart?
JQ: I'm a big believer in equality, and people feeling empowered to be themselves; I'll always try to help spread light and positivity where and when I can.
EC: And finally, what can we expect in the future from Balligomingo what's planned for the next album?
JQ: At this point the boys and I are doing our own things so I'm not sure when we will resume ourselves. Vic and Garrett are on very different paths musically right now so it may be a bit before they're on the same page creatively. On the other hand that could be exactly what makes the next record amazing we'll have to see.
I do have a new single coming out with Sleepthief in the next month or so which I'm pretty excited about as well as working away on a new EP for me. I'm hoping the funding comes together to make it a full length record but I'm also open to releasing four song EP's repeatedly. In today's music business model there is no clear way to do it right, so just like in my song writing, I'm going to trust it to reveal itself.
Revealing, I’m sure it will be if Jody’s past writings with Balligomingo and Sleepthief are any indication, we will see a deeper, more personal side of her on this new EP. Given this great opportunity, her solo CD will showcase what Jody has been keeping inside of her and the talent she has for connecting with the listener. Her vocals are so angelic, so pure and yet when needed, she can command your ears to listen and then hold you back in wait.
We are given very few chances in life to stumble upon true artists and sometimes our industry is guilty of choosing monetary gain over purity of the craft. Canada is known for its commitment to the arts, much more so than the United States (Grant Statistics
). And while some may see that as a weakness, we have seen many studies that show music is brainpower. The arts in many ways are exercise for the brain, the creative force that drives human beings to feel emotion, to deal with pain and to deal with matters of the mind. Canada too, over the years, has been in danger of losing much of its funding for the arts due to the more conservative government in power (Canadian Government Funding For Arts
). As with any recession or threat of a recession many of the first cuts go to the arts programs, as well as after school programs, preschool, and other govt. funded programs. There has been much debate on both sides as to what is right to save money for the country and how to best allocate funds and in the end we can only hope that children will have the same opportunities that artists like Jody had, so that the future can be full of more talented individuals ready to make a difference in an industry that has become increasingly plastic.
Make sure to check out Jody Quine and some of the other artists mentioned in this article, for more information on how you can support local and indie artists, check out some of their websites. If you'd like to see Jody live but don't live in Canada, no problem, catch Jody with bassist Matt every Thursday night on Thursday Night Live!!! With Jody Quine and Matt Wilson