Interview Preview with Catherine MacLellan

Photo cred: Jule Malet-Veale
Photo cred: Jule Malet-Veale

Catherine MacLellan takes some time to chat with Folk on the Road prior to her upcoming concert at the New Moon Folk Club.

Coming from PEI, an island that has a small town feel, how does the warmth of this community emerge in your music?

Prince Edward Island is an amazing place to grow up, no matter what your interests are, but as a writer or an artist, it is so engaging and encouraging you can’t help but create. There is music everywhere, in every home, every bar and nook and cranny.
As a musician here, there isn’t the sense of competition there might be in larger urban centres, we are a very close knit community.
But what also makes this a perfect place to create is the quiet, the solitude. I live in the country and am inspired by the life around me, whether it is the animals in my yard, the wild ocean churning or the leaves or snow falling to the ground. There is a lot of time for me to contemplate and to turn the world around me into song.

Your Father, Gene MacLellan, was a songwriter while you were growing up before he passed away when you were 14. Are there any memories of his songwriting process or lifestyle that stood out to you as a child?

I will never forget the image of my father sitting in the living room with book and pen and guitar, always at work, always editing and creating. He would never take the easy way out with his music, he worked every line until it rolled off the tongue perfectly.
Sometimes, I would wake in the middle of the night and go downstairs to find my dad in the kitchen, at the table, working on music. I think those quiet moments were his most productive times. When the whole world is asleep, there is a sort of quiet magic or inspiration.

You manage multiple roles, such as being a singer songwriter as well as a mother, do you find multiple roles informs your perspective while performing in either domain?
My writing certainly changed after becoming a mother. There is a certain shift in perspective that happens when you give birth, a very abrupt awakening to the realization that the world and all the people in it are multifaceted, many layered, and all someone’s child.
Perhaps it’s just a growing up, maturing thing as well – you realize that not everything is about you. It has allowed me to look into other people’s stories and wonder about what’s going on in their heads, which became a whole new source of inspiration.

You have mentioned in previous interviews that songs may be subconsciously percolating in your mind while you are creating quiet moments for yourself, such as through gardening. How do you create a meditative atmosphere for yourself in order to channel the creative flow of your thoughts?

I’m not sure it’s something that can be planned, but it is a common phenomenon. If you think too hard about something, you’ll never find the answer. But if you take a break and do something mundane or meditative the answer or the idea may come to you out of the blue. I meditate every day, which helps keep my mind clear and present. Other than that, I try to give myself over to my hobbies like gardening or this time of year it may be knitting or sewing. I’m a maker, it turns out. I like to plant a seed and see how it grows.

Is there anything else you would like to mention that I’ve missed?

I feel very grateful that I get to play music for a living… I think everyone needs some sort of creative outlet and I feel fortunate that mine is also my job.

Catherine MacLellan performs at New Moon Folk Club on Friday, February 3, 2017.

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2 thoughts on “Interview Preview with Catherine MacLellan”

  1. Hi SABLE !!

    Terrific interview 🙂

    Do you cover house concerts ? If so, you may wish to hook into one that is happening at Danlyn Studios (Dan and Connie Sinasac) on March 5th. One of my favourites is performing there – Sue Foley. Not only is Sue an accomplished blue guitarist, she is a true student of the blues and especially women in the blues. Sue is likely to sell out a few minutes after the email comes out given her stellar reputation in this town. The Edmonton Blues Hall of Fame (I am V.P.) is nominating her for induction this year.

    Danlyn Studios is located on an acreage across the road from my house 🙂 Connie and Dan have hosted close to 100 house concerts. Every cent of the ticket prices go to the artists (tix generally around the $20 mark). At half time Connie puts out a lovely spread of food and usually hosts the artists overnight and feeds them supper – we adore this couple. They have presented some stunning blues masters, as well as pop, hick-hop (Ridley Bent !) and so on. We recently enjoyed a Saturday night with Red Moon Road at their lovely studio.

    From her website: In 2001, Foley started a project called Guitar Woman based around dozens of interviews she conducted with the world’s leading female guitarists. For eight years she wrote articles, organized and promoted concerts, and worked on a book—fueling her passion for gender studies in music and her desire to bring the work of great women guitar players to light. Guitar Woman entered a period of dormancy from 2009-2015 while Foley pursued several musical collaborations and returned to university to get her graduate’s degree. When she’s not recording or performing internationally, Foley is an Assistant Professor of Music. Her specialty is teaching courses related to the roots of American music, creativity, musician entrepreneurship, and empowering women musicians. In her spare time, she studies the cello, reads voraciously, continues to work on Guitar Woman and is pursuing her PhD. Look for Sue Foley’s new CD in early 2017

    Hugs and kisses moops In 2001, Foley started a project called Guitar Woman based around dozens of interviews she conducted with the world’s leading female guitarists. For eight years she wrote articles, organized and promoted concerts, and worked on a book—fueling her passion for gender studies in music and her desire to bring the work of great women guitar players to light. Guitar Woman entered a period of dormancy from 2009-2015 while Foley pursued several musical collaborations and returned to university to get her graduate’s degree.

    When she’s not recording or performing internationally, Foley is an Assistant Professor of Music. Her specialty is teaching courses related to the roots of American music, creativity, musician entrepreneurship, and empowering women musicians. In her spare time, she studies the cello, reads voraciously, continues to work on Guitar Woman and is pursuing her PhD. In 2001, Foley started a project called Guitar Woman based around dozens of interviews she conducted with the world’s leading female guitarists. For eight years she wrote articles, organized and promoted concerts, and worked on a book—fueling her passion for gender studies in music and her desire to bring the work of great women guitar players to light. Guitar Woman entered a period of dormancy from 2009-2015 while Foley pursued several musical collaborations and returned to university to get her graduate’s degree.

    When she’s not recording or performing internationally, Foley is an Assistant Professor of Music. Her specialty is teaching courses related to the roots of American music, creativity, musician entrepreneurship, and empowering women musicians. In her spare time, she studies the cello, reads voraciously, continues to work on Guitar Woman and is pursuing her PhD.

    >

    1. Moops! How are you!?! I can’t believe I didn’t check this message sooner. Twila and I would definitely be interested in covering house concerts. I think the main barrier is that we don’t know when they are all occurring. Is there a mailing list we can get on for Danlyn Studios?

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