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Id Guinness

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    Posted: November 26 2010 at 13:33

Vancouver based singer/songwriter Id Guinness has been active in the Canadian music scene since the 80's, as a session musician, band member as well as songwriter for various indie artists. His latest band connection is with folk band The Wyrd Sisters, of which he was a touring member from 2007-2008.

In 2007 Guinness decided to start a solo career and he has so far released two albums. I caught up with him for his story so far.


Why, how and when did you start on your musical journey as the artist Id Guinness ?

It was around 1982-83. I had been in several bands and eventually grew tired of the democratic process. Musicians and songwriters have a unique bond and the thrill of creating something with people who speak a common language is very powerful. At the same time, for me, my visions always seemed to have been diluted by the process and I became frustrated. Not to say I’m not ready to do it again. Now that I have established my own voice, I feel freer to collaborate and can give and receive more from the process.

Please give me your (long or brief) thoughts and lowdowns on......

Cure for the Common Crush from 2007

I had gone for several years during the ‘90s without writing or playing at all. A financial crisis forced me to sell all of my recording gear and instruments. It was during this time without tools that I started working on ‘Cure.’ Prior to this, I’ve always written music first and added lyrics later. Out of necessity, I worked backwards and in the process became a much better lyricist. Although I had been listening to nothing but current music, I hadn’t produced anything for so long that the album sounds very retro. I just decided to enjoy the ride and make the best record I could under the circumstances.

Soul Envy from 2010

Soul Envy’ was originally supposed to have more of an R&B vibe. During the writing process, the songs kept getting darker and darker and it ended up being a conceptual work about loss and how the various characters in the songs cope with it.

The compilation digital download album Crush’d was released and quickly withdrawn in 2008. What happened and when will this album be re-released?

It was put together rather quickly as a gift to past customers and an incentive for new fans to pre-order ‘Soul Envy.’ I want to take some time now to re-mix some of the songs, probably add one or two more and have it mastered properly.

What are the lyrical topics on your albums?

Soul Envy,’ as I mentioned earlier, is all about profound loss. I didn’t realize until the whole thing was assembled that it had this thread running through it. Other than that, I’m inspired by the news in general and of course, events in my life bubble to the surface in my lyrics whether I want them to or not. The process varies as well. With the songs ‘Cure for the Common Crush’ and ‘Guardians of the New Frontier.’ the titles came to me first and I had to write stories around them - a great writing exercise by the way. ‘Cure’ turned into a song about a cult leader and ‘Guardians’ is about Eliot Spitzer’s nosedive. When I write lyrics, ideas will float in to my head and if I’m lucky, I’ll jot them down before I forget them. Then, when I have time, I’ll sit down and try to assemble something. Quite often, it feels like another entity is doing the writing and I’m just the typist. For instance, ‘The Joke’ is a song that I know took me a very long time to write, but I honestly don’t remember any of it. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Jade Garden’ was originally a silly exercise. I tried to write a lyric completely from fortune cookie messages. It didn’t work exactly, but I did get a song out of it.

How is your creative process from coming up with a theme/riff/idea to you getting it down onto an album?

It varies, but most of the work happens in my head while I’m walking around doing other things. The music generally comes easily, which is why I should probably get into writing film soundtracks. For instance, ‘ESMA’ from ‘Soul Envy’ was written and recorded within 48 hours. I have a little ProTools system at home where I arrange everything, playing and singing what I can and sketching the rest out for the other musicians to refer to.

Please tell us more about the other musicians on your albums. Are they hired hands or full time members? How is the recruitment process and is it easy to find quality musicians in your area?

Vancouver has a huge talent pool to draw from. I have a few musical friends that help me and they’ve found others for me to become involved with. Some are hired and with some of my musician friends, we just agree to be guests on each other’s recordings. Most of the musicians involved recorded their parts on their own and emailed them to me. I imagine the process for them was a lot less tense than having me in the room breathing down their necks. For me, it was fun to let go and be pleasantly surprised by how they interpreted the song. In a way, they are all producers. I am more of a curator - editing their various visions into one cohesive statement.

Just to give those of us who are unknown with your music a bit of a reference point or two: How would you describe your music ?

On my Myspace profile, I describe it as ‘Melodramatic Popular Song/Psychedelic/Gothic’ which is probably as accurate as I can get. People hear the influences of Pink Floyd, The Beatles, David Bowie, Roxy Music - all of whom I admired in my formative years. I’ve also been told I sound like Mercury Rev and Porcupine Tree, neither of whom I’ve listened to. I suppose I’m trying to retain some of my old influences while incorporating sounds of current pop-prog artists I like such as MGMT and Sufjan Stevens.

What is your experience with the music industry and the new internet music scene ?

This past decade has been truly bizarre in terms of the industry’s reaction to new technology. There is no reason why a subscription based model couldn’t have been developed ten years ago. Now there is still no standard. Individuals are still being sued for downloading, which is wrong and musicians are still being ripped off by downloaders, which is also wrong. A cloud where, for a reasonable monthly fee, everything is accessible - music, lyrics, videos, bios is possible as is a system where artists are compensated fairly and promptly when their work is streamed. The idea of merch sales keeping bands afloat is a sad joke. Copyright is another concept that needs to be torn apart and rebuilt by some global association. It’s a complete mess.

On the upside, it is great to have the freedom to market yourself, and to a large degree choose and control your record releases and their various income streams. Things can happen instantly now.

Are you involved in any other bands or projects?

I had the opportunity to tour a couple of times with The Wyrd Sisters - a folk/jazz/Lilith Fair kind of group. Kim Baryluk, the remaining original member is someone that I’m keen to work with. We have a bunch of songs we’re co-writing. She’s sort of a cross between Bette Midler and Martin Luther King - an extremely powerful presence that both frightens and energizes me. I’ve also recently started working again with a power pop band I was in many, many, many years ago called ‘The Wet!’ We’re in the process of digging up old relics and restoring them, and have decided to collaborate on new material. There will definitely be more to talk about soon!

What are your plans for the rest of this year and next year?

This year, I released ‘Soul Envy,’ which got off to a slow start due to my other work commitments. As I have more time to spend promoting it, it’s starting to pick up a bit of speed.

The two very first recordings I played keyboards on back in 1977 were just reissued in September on a Korean label that specializes in ‘70's West Coast music. One was a solo album by a singer-songwriter named Donn Tarris. We were in a few bands together after that. We’ve stayed in touch, on and off, and he played bass on a large part of ‘Soul Envy’ as well as mastered the album. The song ‘Beaches’ from ‘Cure for the Common Crush’ is his. The other album was by a folk group we were both in called ‘Airborne.’ It’s quite a strange feeling to see and hear these artifacts being circulated again, to say the least!

I hope a re-issue of old recordings of ‘The Wet!’ is possible. I’m even more excited about working on a new project with these guys. We all live in different cities now, but even after all this time, it seems we still know each other really well musically and it feels like we’re picking up where we left off. All four of us are writers, and we all have material that would fit this project. I’m also hoping to record with The Wyrd Sisters’ Kim Baryluk in the near future.

As for Id Guinness, I’m working toward re-mixing and re-mastering ‘Crush’d’ - as well as re-recording some of the songs. I may add a couple more to it. Along with that, I’m planning to release its companion piece ‘Soul’d’ - which will likely consist of alternate versions of two ‘Soul Envy’ songs, some older unreleased material and a few covers. I`m planning to release these two albums together in late 2011. Sadly with me, though, I’ve always got more ideas than energy. If I can get half of this done, I’ll be happy.

Thank you to Id Guinness for this interview

His PA profile is here and his homepage here

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote memowakeman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 28 2010 at 12:05
He is a talented musician without a doubt, his "Soul Envy" is a pretty cool album.

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