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Kathryn Calder's solo album a love letter to mother

When most musicians release an album they spend months touring in support of it. But not Vancouver musician Kathryn Calder — who has no intention of quitting her day job in the New Pornographers.

When most musicians release an album they spend months touring in support of it. But not Vancouver musician Kathryn Calder — she’s has no intention of quitting her day job, as a singer in the New Pornographers, to play her debut solo album around the country.


And you can’t blame her — when I called her last week she was hours away from playing Lollapalooza with the Pornographers. “It’s a pretty big show,” she said, a major understatement considering she’d likely be working small bars if she were playing her own record across the country.


She will tour, she says, probably next year, when her main band’s hectic schedule relaxes. Until then you’ll have to listen to her passionate debut disc, Are You My Mother?, which was written and recorded in the months before her mother passed away from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.


While Calder, who also played with Immaculate Machine, had always wanted to write a solo record, it wasn’t until her mom got sick that she decided to go for it.


“Her illness was a gentle motivation,” she says. “I wanted her to hear it because I knew she would really enjoy it. I didn’t want to look back and regret waiting.”


You might expect the disc to be full of depressing dirges, but it’s not. There are some somber tunes — Arrow is a stunning track that’s clearly about her losing her mom — but there’s also some upbeat power pop numbers like the Pornographers sounding Follow Me Into The Hills.


“It was a conscious decision. I didn’t want the record to be all one mood,” she says. “I didn’t want it to be a sad, dark record. My mom’s illness wasn’t the only thing that was happening to me at the time — there were some happy moments too.”


Clearly, Calder’s open about what she went through. She admits that it’s been hard to put herself out there, but it’s helped her deal with her mom’s death.


“Just writing about what was going on helped in some way or another,” she says. “In my first interview, which was for my home town paper, I did get teary. But there’s no way I could not talk about this — it was so tied into the record. Plus, if it raises awareness of ALS then all the better.”

 
 
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