I have been talking with Rob Dickson…
about his new single, Water Rushing In, and what sort of themes are discussed and explored in the upcoming album, Looking Through Your Window. Dickson talks about his musical tastes and the scene in Yukon (Canada) – he recommends some upcoming artists we should keep our eyes peeled for.
I ask whether tour dates are coming up and the possibility of U.K. dates; what advice he would give to artists emerging; the three albums that mean the most to him – Dickson talks about writing on the road and how he unwinds away from music.
Hi, Rob. How are you? How has your week been?
Great. I'm traveling for work in a remote community and enjoying the sights and fresh air. I’m looking forward to getting home to my family, though.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm a songwriter, singer and guitarist based in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). I just finished my second album and I'm gearing up for its release and some touring this fall.
Water Rushing In is your new single. Is there a story behind the song?
There are a few stories embedded in that song. I wrote it in a few different parts and had to rework the lyrics a few times. It's sort of a portrait of a hybrid character I made up based on three individual characters.
One is an indigenous person, one is a dairy farmer and one is a logger. I was trying to imagine how different people experienced colonization and industrialization in Canada - and this portrait began to emerge in the form of a song.
It is from the L.P., Looking Through Your Window. Are there consistent themes and stories that inspired the music?
On this record, I wanted to try a different approach. After writing, recording and performing the songs for my first record, Proof of Our Years, which was very introspective, I think I naturally wanted to look outwards for inspiration. I started grappling with how individuals interface with the world, how our experiences and memories shape our view of the world and form our predispositions and perspective.
I was looking out and was pretty horrified by what was happening around the world with the rise of nationalist groups, politics of fear; mistreatment of indigenous people and the environment. I think that made me want to examine the perspectives of myself and those around me through the songs.
Is it easy getting reception and opportunities where you are in Yukon (Canada)? What is the scene like there?
Canada and the Yukon, in particular, are pretty decent places to live as an artist. There are so many programs in place to support the making of creative work. It is very hard to tour profitably though due to the vast distances between cities - but I find audiences are really kind for the most part.
I get a sense travel and movement influences your music. Do you write a lot whilst commuting?
I have a pretty busy schedule at home so it can be hard to find minutes in the day to write at home. I also find my mind is a little clearer and less occupied by work and general tasks when I'm on the move. So, yeah, I definitely like to write a lot while traveling. I try to play guitar and play around with melodies every night at home too - but, I find it hard to get in the right headspace to write words at home.
Which musicians inspired you when you were growing up? Did your parents open your eyes to lots of different sounds?
When I was a kid, I listened to a lot of records my dad had in the car: lots of '60s and '70s singer-songwriter music like Joan Armatrading, Billy Bragg; Neil Young and '70s and '80s Pop and New Wave like the Cure, Squeeze and The Kinks. I really liked listening to that music and imagining myself living in that world.
Will there be any live dates coming up? Where can we see you play?
I'll be playing a bunch of shows between Montreal and Toronto at the beginning of September which I'm really excited for!
Can we see you in the U.K. this year?
I don't have any dates in U.K. yet, but I'd really like to plan a U.K./Europe tour soon. I'd love to hear from anyone with an empty festival slot (smiles).
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
Plan a U.K./Europe tour for 2019!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I got to play a show with John K. Sampson last year. That was pretty surreal and lovely.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
One Hundred Dollars - Songs of Man
The Barr Brothers - The Barr Brothers
Land of Talk - Some Are Lakes
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Focus on making the best music you can make - that's the most important thing. Work hard and be critical but have fun and remember music is a form of play. Be yourself and don't be afraid to reach out and ask people for help. Most people love to help people.
IN THIS PHOTO: U.S. Girls
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do try and make time to relax without thinking about my work. It can be hard to do, though; I have become a bit obsessive about it. I like getting outside and running or biking. I do those things regularly for fun and they help me clear my head and put things back into perspective. I also spend lots of time with my partner and our kids. They help ground me I think.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Where the Sparrows Drop - One Hundred Dollars
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