Chilling with Canning

(Jody Waardenburg -- Lead Photographer)

(Jody Waardenburg — Lead Photographer)

Blowing through Waterloo Region for the first time as a solo artist, Brendan Canning from Canadian indie music collective, Broken Social Scene, asked visitors of Starlight Social Club to take a minute to relax and chill last week. Why? Because, you ‘gots’ to.

Released in early October, Canning’s second solo release, You Gots 2 Chill, gives a jokingly nostalgic nod to ‘80s hip hop group EPMD and their song “You Gots to Chill.” While this new album is a departure from Canning’s 2005 release Something for Us All, you won’t find Canning rapping. Instead, this latest release carries acoustic clarity from start to finish.

“I do a lot of finger picking at home and I’ve never really had the chance to explore doing that as a body of work. My bandmates and friends would always say [I should make an album like this], so this is my first attempt at doing that,” said Canning.

This album lives up to its name in the sense that it is enormously relaxed.  Designed for early morning plays, or nighttime relaxation, it’s a multiuse record that is set to appeal to long time fans and listeners of a calmer persona.

“I don’t imagine 16 year old kids are going to jump on board with this … it’s not a teen record. Not to say that younger people wouldn’t enjoy it but, it’s for an older set I think,” said Canning.

The deviation from a heavier sound to something lighter was a long time coming for Canning, stemming from Broken Social Scene’s Feel Good Lost days. A resurgence of that unplugged sound comes with taking a break from his usual, collective environment.

“When Kevin [Drew] and I started and we made Feel Good Lost, I was kind of going in that mode and then all of a sudden we became this band. When we first started to play more rock, I was really a bit hesitant, but Broken Social Scene turned out to be the best rock band I would ever play in, by a long shot. I still like that I can spend a lot of time being quiet so that’s what this [album] is all about,” said Canning.

After 20+ years in the music industry, Canning’s portfolio is extensive. Having been part of numerous collaborations, scoring a movie, a video game soundtrack, commercials and more, it’s impressive that diving back into a grassroots style tour is satisfying.

“When the sound is right, that’s enough. This tour is humble beginnings. I’m travelling in a van; I don’t have a tour bus. I do have a very dependable band. As long as I can keep going and not totally go broke… You need to invest in yourself. I’m in the business of Brendan Canning,” he continued. “I had a really great run and wherever Broken Social Scene is going to come back around, I have to take it for where it is and that means getting in a van and going.”

Canning’s performance at Starlight was as chill as his album. Together with Marnie Hearld and Yukon Blonde’s Graham Jones, Canning’s ability to dish out studio quality vocals and soothing melodies while bantering with the audience makes for a delightful performance and contrast to opening band, Dinosaur Bones. Sending a little love to hometown hero Aubrey Graham, Canning and his band put together an acoustic cover of “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” to the delight of Drake fans.

With sketchbooks, a yoga mat, a collection of sneakers and PJ Harvey’s 2011 Mercury prize winning album Let England Shake, Canning and his band are headed out across western Canada and through America before wrapping up the tour at the end of January in New York.

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