Meet Canadian singer/songwriter, Jenn Grant. Jenn is a Juno nominated and ECMA award winning artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. We caught up her at her countryside studio between tours, and discussed art, music, fashion, life on the road, family, holiday traditions and her new album.
Photographs by Lindsay Duncan.
How would you describe your music?
I would say that it floats between a few genres. I never really stick to anything for that long. I like to explore whatever is inspiring me. At the end of 8 albums I have enough to make up any kind of show I want to!
You just released a new album, tell us!
Champagne Problems is a Canadian Compilation Album. I wrote with 13 wonderful singer songwriters across the country and many of them also appear on the album. It spans genres like folk, hints of disco country, and R&B.
How do these relationships transpire? Is the collaboration process different every time?
Yes, that is the whole thesis of the album. The connection between artists creating songs. Kind of like making a quilt of the creative fabric of the country for this time. That's what it was to my anyway. With each collaboration, I would follow suit. I would see how the artist writes and try and learn something or go with their flow. For the most part, all of these experiences were very collaborative, bonding and unique.
We didn’t know you were a painter until we saw your recent paintings. How did you get into painting and how would you describe your work? Also, could you please tell us about your most recent project and what you have been fundraising for? Why are you so passionate about this cause?
I have always loved making art and craft since I was a kid. Eventually I went to NSCAD to study all kinds of things. A lot of painting. It was a bit of a side move for me in a way because I really wanted to be in music but I had stage fright for 100 years. I got heavy into music, which became my full time passion project but I would paint in between tours.
During the pandemic, I was home with my two babies, and I started painting constantly. I've been exploring abstracted landscapes as I've called them since just before art school in 2004. But I also always loved figure drawing and painting portraits. But I thought I'd forgotten it somewhere.
It was when I began following the journalists on instagram reporting the war in Gaza that I was drawn to capture their faces. I wanted to capture the beauty and emotion in their eyes.These young journalists who are risking their lives everyday to show the world the horror around them. It's dystopic.
There has been a dehumanization of the Palestinian people, and I wanted to raise them up as individuals, amplify their voices, and raise money that could get to them. To help them help others. We have raised almost 12K in funds with these paintings of Motaz, Hind, Plestia and Bisan with auctions online over the last two weekends. I hope to raise more with prints that I am working on having made right now.
I wish it was more and I wish for a Cease Fire.
Who do you consider music greats and what musicians (current and past) inspire you?
I got to support Feist on a show this year in Halifax. She is really someone that I admire. She pushes herself in new directions and takes musical risks. She tests the limits of creativity while remaining a authentic and grounded, passionate human. I really admire this. I love so many artists past and present it's hard to chose but I will mention Jenny Lewis (who I feel shares many of these same qualities) Joni Mitchell, Rodriguez, Bob Dylan, Radiohead... it's a very long list. I get a lot of inspiration from my friends in this industry. Jill Barber, Rose Cousins, Kim Harris, Allison Russel, Dan Mangan, Tim Baker, the list goes on and on!
You have a busy family life, but you are also currently on tour. What’s life like on the road versus life like at home? Are there any challenges of being on tour?
Yes (HA!) There are challenges on tour. It's important to remind yourself of the basic health rules like drink water, eat vegetables, go for walks... Take a moment for yourself. This has always been the case. Stretch your body. Have fun. Be Kind. Add in two little kids and you need to amp everything up and continue to try to also get enough sleep. I really think just taking care of each other and bring kind and laughing is very important.
If you could play in any city in the world, where would it be?
Oh.... Well I would also love it if I could take one of those Star Trek transporter machines so I don't have to think about travel... so assuming that's the case....
...Hi I'm back. I've been thinking about this and worrying about it for ten minutes. What does that say about me? Somewhere in California? That is not San Fran or LA since I have already done that. San Jose? or Santa Fe? Cause it's in a Kathleen Edwards song? And Disney World.
How would you describe your personal style? What’s your ultimate stage outfit?
For the tour I'm on right now, Kim Harris and I have been wearing mumus! There is something very fun about having a uniform. I am obsessed with stage clothes, and I really feel it's part of the show that I put on anyway. I was dressing like a cowgirl last year (Cowboy/Cow Person) because I was shopping a lot with Jim Cuddy and I love him. (Oh Yeah the other major thing that you need to find time for on tour is going to vintage stores. This is my joy!)
What’s your favourite family holiday tradition?
Oh, I love family holiday traditions!!!!! Drinking rum nogs and decorating the tree!
You have an amazing Christmas album that we play every holiday season. It’s our all-time favorite holiday album. What inspired you to make this album?
Danny and I love Christmas!! It's such a funny time for people. It's so nostalgic I think it's almost impossible to not have a bit of the Christmas Blues. Missing family and the 'way it used to be'. But nostalgia is my thing. And we both love Christmas music and we love being a part of that for people. We have a working song order for another Christmas album for someday so I'm glad you like this one so much. I do too!
Check out Jenn's new album, Champagne Problems and to get into the holiday spirit this season her holiday album, Forever on Christmas Eve.