Canadian Musician - March/April 2023 - Page 40

get it out of my head and come freshly back to it months later and get it mixed , which is normally not a luxury that I would ever have .”
Aiming for an earthier , sparser sound more indicative of her live show , which due to budgetary restrictions , featured an unusual instrumentation set up of Vriend on Keys , a Hammond organ player and a back-up singer , the musical parameters of Vriend ’ s latest outing feature keyboards , vocal harmonies , and pre-programmed drums vaguely reminiscent of hip-hop that contrast the vintage with the modern — but no bass .
“ In 2019 , I did a lot of touring in Europe for For the People in the Mean Time album , which came out almost a decade ago ,” she explains regarding the genesis of Everybody Matters ’ sparser sound . “ It was more on the poppy sides of soul . And that ’ s what I was selling , but I couldn ’ t afford a full band . So I was just touring in a kind of unusual instrumentation setup , with myself on
keys , and then a Hammond organ player , and a backup singer . The organ player and I covered the bass lines on our keyboard . And then we sort of tried to imply that the rhythm was in the vocal harmony , but people seemed to really like it .” Requests for an album with the stripped-down live sound at meet and greets and the merchandise table prompted the future production change . “ So then I thought well , okay , the next tour , I should come and actually have the album that they want . So the parameters musically on Everybody Matters , is that it ’ s keyboards only , there ’ s no bass and vocal harmonies .”
Explaining her song writing process and inspiration , Vriend admits that while the business and administration duties of being an independent artist has , at times , limited her time to write , she ’ s flipped the script and turned time constraints into a positive . ” I usually do all my writing when I ’ m procrastinating doing things I really don ’ t want to do like tax time ,” she explains . “ I somehow always race . I don ’ t love administration . And so , when I have a big mountain of it , maybe I ’ ll just play piano for 10 minutes [ and ] three hours later , I ’ ve written a song and I haven ’ t done the administration . So people ask me when I write and I ’ m like , not when I ’ m supposed to .”
In terms of songwriting content Everybody Matters aligns even greater with soul music ’ s pursuit of social justice , critiques of racism and power structures with the confessional warmth and intimacy of the 1970 ’ s singer-songwriter movement , while also throwing back to both Roberta Flack and Nina Simone . “ I think that listening to the history of African American music , the entire oppression and injustice of that entire community is very evident and writers and artists in those genres have addressed their suffering since the beginning , the blues onward . And then of course [ it ’ s ] that sort of area that I am sort of most focusing on in that Everybody Matters record is [ reflective ] of the 60s and 70s era .”
The slow burning groove of “ Don ’ t Wait ,” the sassy Memphis mover kiss off of “ Who ’ s Foolin ’ Who ” and the soaring collaboration with Jory Kinjo , “ If You Were Here ” are all highlights of Everybody Matters while the title track is a jubilant gospel infused celebration in the face of the poverty and oppression of the McCauley neighborhood . Dig the infectious video as well . “ I think if you don ’ t listen to the lyrics it sounds like happy music and is happy and upbeat and spunky makes you want to dance , but it ’ s about something , “ explains Vriend . “ You know , it ’ s not just fluffy bubblegum , like nightclub escapism — it ’ s about what ’ s happening in the community . I definitely was sort of thinking about how it ’ s funky and soulful and upbeat , but definitely talking about being in the ghetto and the oppressiveness of inner city life . And we ’ re here in the inner city . Our neighborhood has officially been called — I don ’ t know how you officially get a title of a ghetto — but it ’ s whatever the official definition of ghetto is , according to the people that define these things . So we definitely have been dealing with that kind of stuff , too . And the kids that grew up here , and the sort of things that they have to face in the field . And , of course , you ’ re always going to write about what you see , what you know , and what ’ s in front of you all the time . I was thinking about those kinds of artists like Marvin Gaye .”
Reflecting on Everybody Matters ’ song