It makes sense that I met up with local singer-songwriter, pianist and multi-instrumentalist Lisa Bozikovic the morning of a downpour, as her sophomore album, This Is How We Swim (Shuffling Feet), is full of references to water.
She wrote many of the songs during a residency on the Toronto Island in the spring of 2011, and recorded the album shortly after at Lincoln County Social Club with co-producer Sandro Perri and engineer Heather Kirby.
Though Bozikovic worked with some of the same musicians on her 2009 debut, Lost August, the two albums were recorded very differently. Lost August was a "luxurious" process, recorded over a year and a half at Ryerson with well over a dozen musicians. This Is How We Swim, by contrast, was recorded in just over three weeks and features a core band of Bozikovic, Perri (moog, synth) and Perri's bandmates Dan Gaucher (drums) and bassist Mike Smith (Muscox), with additional contributions from cellist Anissa Hart (Ohbijou), violinist Mika Posen (Timber Timbre) and a few others.
"I wanted to create something that had an overall cohesiveness and sonic continuity to it," says Bozikovic. "[Not] just like experimenting with different genres and trying to make something... Lost August had a rock song on it, then there's a weird, experimental one and then there's a pure Great-Lake-Swimmers-type folk song. I would say this record has much more of a flow."
Bozikovic also collaborated earlier this year with Stevie Jackson (Belle and Sebastian) on the arrangements for Paper Laced With Gold, a musical by Maggie MacDonald and Jackson that launched at Harbourfront - and that will hopefully come back to town for another run.
The show at the Music Gallery Friday (September 7) is a double CD launch for This Is How We Swim and Kite Hill's new album, Rest & Run.Projection artist Sean Frey (who has done visuals for Feist, Snowblink and, recently, Evening Hymns) will be running with the water theme in his live projections accompanying the music.
Doors open at 7, show's at 8. $15 regular /$10 member. 416-204-1080. See listing.
Did you have the water concept in mind before you went to the Island?
I was coming out of a really dark time and I was just thinking about the idea of transformation, how change is happening all the time, but that we're more in touch with it some times than other times.
Are you talking about grieving?
For me grieving is connected to other kinds of loss, too. It affects everything in your life. So I don't see them as distinct. When I moved to the Island, I was already using water imagery, which is so obvious, like water is movement, transformation and different forms and states. I just decided to go with it.
How did the water theme get worked into the sound?
Once I got to this point, [I thought] what is water? What is the sonic reality I'm going for? What does water sound like?
I talked to Sandro Perri about that and we decided to use these really watery synths that can make you nostalgic. Juno is a type of synth that was really popular in the 80s, they have a very distinct quality. There are a lot of sort of cheesy strings sounds on the Juno that sound like water. There's also Moog - that's the 70s thing and the funk thing, and there's vibraphone and Wurlitzer - vibraphones are a really watery- sounding instrument.
I still would describe the record as a journey; it's not like I ended up in this happy place after going through dark things. It's like the process of transformation and learning to accept things I can't control.
Were any of the songs directly inspired by being at the Island?
Into The Waves and the title track, This Is How We Swim. I wrote Into The Waves on a spring day when it was really cold and rainy. It was five degrees every day for two months, and there weren't many people around. I walked up and down the beach for hours and felt kind of weird, but I started to get this melody in my head and then I basically wrote the whole song as I was walking. That's a song about my relationship to death, like the loss of my mom.
You have an uncanny habit of covering songs I love or songs I should know. What covers are you working on these days?
I've been playing a Fleetwood Mac song called Everywhere, so I might do that at the CD release; Bonnie Raitt's I Can't Make You Love Me; new covers, there is one, but I don't think I should say yet.