Archive for February, 2012
Portraits are an endless source of interest, responding as they do to the basic human impulse to look at faces and try to see into the character behind them. Self-portraits have the added facination that comes from looking into the mirror and trying to study one’s own face.
I present five self-portraits, in no particular order – included are powerful and evocative works by many of the greatest painters, including JiMMiE DURHAM, ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE, NAN GOLDiN, SHiRiN NESHAT and FRANCESCO CLEMENTE.
Although I am back in the recording studio and focused on new material, I do have to take a moment and reflect on an album I think many people still need to hear. That album is THEY SAY I’M DiFFERENT and it is my independent debut release, recorded in 2009-2010, released independently last year by Torrid Productions.
At the time I began recording tracks for THEY SAY I’M DiFFERENT, there really was no album to speak of. In fact, CLAUDE MARQUiS (of The PEPTiDES) had me over to record what could have been my one and only track: DOLLY PARTON’S ‘THEY GRASS iS BLUE’. I have always had a strong affection for folk and country music; growing up it’s what I lived on. PARTON’S music is and always has been influential to me, so I took the opportunity to record with MARQUiS on what I initially took as a one-chance opportunity. I’ll never be able to thank MARQUiS enough for that gesture, because once my THE GRASS iS BLUE cover leaked online and I began to share it – I was baffled at the reception it got. I was mostly touched by how many people reached out and shared their connection to me or the beautifully written tune. It was encouraging for someone very shy like me.
From there I began to envision what it might be like to continue working on music: recording it and laying it down in a way that I could extend it to other like-minded people. On top of that, I performed at a few weddings over the summer of 2009 and again, the response I received from the crowds was so positive – how could I not consider pursuing music more?
Enter DANNiEL OiCKLE, founder/producer of TORRiD PRODUCTiONS. Much like MARQUiS, OiCKLE generously invited me into TORRiD PRODUCTiONS as a resident artist, where we developed the idea for a full length grass roots/folk album with original material as well as covers of some of my favorite tunes. OiCKLE is another major force behind what soon became THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT – and over 2010 we were in and out of the recording studio laying down potential tracks. For someone like me, who was used to singing alone in my living room and playing solely for my cats and boyfriend – the concept of coming into a recording studio and laying down raw music was completely foreign to me. I’ll be honest and say that I have ton of learning to do; although I do consider myself a singer/songwriter – I also know my limitations. Every week OiCKLE and I got together, I used our sessions as opportunities to flex myself and push what it is I think I can do. Before I knew it, we had laid down tracks for all of my original tunes: LONELY BLUE WAVES (i WANT YOU), iLLUSiONS, SAViOUR iN A CAGE, BLUE, SAiL AWAY WiTH ME and THE GENTLEMAN. The results are admittedly mixed but I will say a valuable lesson learned is that much like children, a song needs time to grow and develop into its full potential, and so while I can appreciate that there is major room to grow – these recording are very representative of a certain time and place for me as an individual and artist. They are my first recordings.
These recording sessions at TORRiD PRODUCTiONS were very affirming to me as a musician – and I also jumped on the opportunity to cover some of my favorite songs by other artists. HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU, originally a NEWTON-JOHN number from 1978’s GREASE remains a song close to my heart. It made sense for me to re-work it and present it in a stripped down manner where listeners could hear the beauty of JOHN FARRAR’S lyrics. Additionally we recorded TiLL i GET iT RiGHT , originally a TAMMY WYNETTE song done in the early 1970’s. Her version is a classic that moves me even today – but getting to put my own twist on it as well as include it on THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT meant a lot to me because the song reflects how I feel myself – ‘If I fly my wings/ and if I try long enough/ I’m bound to learn to fly/ so I’ll just keep on falling in love/ till I get it right’. This is the essence of THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT.
As the tracks with OiCKLE kept adding up over the year, I was able to return to MARQUiS’ for some additional recording with him. MARQUiS has an ear for music, as is clearly evident in his work with THE PEPTiDES – so having him lend his touch of talent to TOMORROW iS FOREVER and my own PRAiRiE BOY further fueled the reality that I truly was on my way to putting together a full-fledged/full-length album. Wrapping up with MARQUiS we laid down a cover of STEViE NiCKS ‘AFTER THE GLiTTER FADES’, this time he also invited THE PEPTiDES member OLEXANDRA PRUCHNiCKY in to add her beautiful harmony (making it my first official duet), as well as accordion player JUDY JiBB. AFTER THE GLiTTER FADES remains one of the songs people refer to most and I can understand why. PRUCHNiCKY (also a member of TORRiD PRODUCTiONS) and I have continued to work together on numerous other projects since our time on GLiTTER, including OiCKLE’S very own baby, THE CORRUPTiON of FLESH. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I wouldn’t even be involved with CORRUPTiON had I stayed playing guitar in my living room. This goes to show that making THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT was as much about extending myself to the world as it was about making a folk record.
THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT may have wrapped up recording at the end of 2010, but a lot of work was put into its release in 2011. Again, I am so thankful for all of the people involved in making this project happen; I have since watched it be received in a way that I really can only be thankful for. We held the CD LAUNCH party at ELMDALE HOUSE TAVERN in July, to which I faced a big fear of public performing. I’ve done a hand full of other live gigs since then; including THE RAiNBOW, BACKYARDS of CHiNATOWN and even played up in Manitoba’s NorVA Centre, where I also had an exhibit of my photography. Ottawa’s Xpress even nominated me and THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT for BEST ALBUM and NEW MUSiCAL ACT in their October Best of Ottawa 2011 Contest. I’m no fool and never expected for a moment that I would win either category – but it was yet another source of encouragement; someone out there heard potential. Besides, I’ve only just begun!
Everything about THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT; leading up to it and after wards has been incredibly rewarding. Reviews, although slightly mixed – do indicate to me that any flaws aside (and I do recognize a great deal of flaws) there must be something good. If anything, THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT woke me up to my own potential. It’s not the sum of who I am but it certainly should be seen as a work in progress.
As I move forward and continue to record new material – I take these experiences with me and strive to evolve even further as a singer/songwriter/performer and artist. Going forward I will take my time and collaborate with like-minded musicians who want a piece of the CC TRUBiAK experience – creating intimate, grass-roots folk and country-tinged music full of hope and optimism. Fortunately for me I have peers like DARREN HOLMES, iSAAC VALLENTiN, JENNY NASMiTH, KETURAH JOHNSON, SHANE NORRiS along for the ride – I can assure you that anything you see from me next will be a labor of love – for if I’ve learned anything from these past two years; take you time and be proud of what you do but always strive to outdo even yourself. Stay tuned!
In the meantime – take a moment to check out THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT, which you can find on iTUNES here (http://bit.ly/zQFwDg). Below are youtube vids for several tracks, and stay tuned for what will be my first official music video release this spring; I’m currently working on a video concept with TORRiD pals OLEX and DANNiEL for an accompanying video to AFTER THE GLiTTER FADES. It will be beautiful I can assure you!
LULU first caught my attention when I was a little boy growing up in the 80′s. My dad loved the 1967 SiDNEY POiTiER film ‘TO SiR, WiTH LOVE” – a charming British film that deals with social and racial issues in an inner city school. LULU, a plucky Scottish singer, actress and television personality – made her film debut as one of the students. She also solidified herself as a singing tour de force with the title song TO SiR, WITH LOVE – a simple, yet major hit that gave her success and a number one single in the United States. I’ve since read that she landed her role in ‘TO SiR, WiTH LOVE’ when director JAMES CLAVELL came to see her on a London bill with the BEACH BOYS and immediately decided to cast her in the film.
‘SHOUT’, LULU’s debut hit in 1964, first charted for the iSLEY BROTHERS in the US in 1959 and then again in 1962, and 60’s versions by JOEY DEE & THE STARLiGHTER and the CHAMBER BROTHERS also made the Billboard Hot 100.
LULU is the only female artist to have appeared on Top Of the Pops in each of the last five decades. Appearing on a plethora of variety shows (including HAPPENiNG WiTH LULU, LULU’S BACK iN TOWN etc, she represented the United Kingdom in 1969′s EUROViSiON SONG CONTEST with ‘BOOM BANG A BANG‘ coming out best in sales for LULU. The song was considered a joke, but it further propelled her sales and success as a superstar.
LULU’S chart success waned in the 1980′s but she remained in the public eye, acting and hosting a long-running radio show on London’s Capital Radio station. She remains adored by legions of fans, including many singers and performers. ELTON JOHN has said of LULU – ‘Lulu is and always has been one of my favourite female singers, she is vocally an inspiration’. Soul singer and legend JAMES BROWN – ‘The first time I heard you sing, Lulu, I knew we were born in the same pond’.
I know I still find time every once in a while to slap on a LULU record – she’s vivacious and full of soul. Take a listen to MORNiNG DEW (1968) and TO SiR, WiTH LOVE for a taste of her yourself! Thanks for the music LULU!
THE PACT – BRYAN DEMCHiNSKY
“There is a picture of them, standing together the first time they met. Mary is turned out for the occasion, in a stylish skirt and a jacket with a corsage pinned on that says she is there to announce the wedding of a cousin. Her dark hair is tied back. It is longer than she would wear it during most of her life, and her complexion seems darker than when she was older, perhaps because of the hours spent under a farmyard sun. She is still girlish. Stan, always a stylish dresser, looks as casual as he ever will in a photo, presumably because he was working when the engagement party pulled into his yard. His sleeves are rolled up and his shirt is opened a button lower than it needs to be. His pants are flared – a kind of early bell-bottoms look – hitched high with suspenders. He too looks kissed by the sun and his rusty hair is still luxuriant, which it would not be on the day they married, ten years and a world war later.”
Before clan, tribe or nation, there is family. Families propel our genes through time and cast a glow that makes them an endless source of fascination. The Pact is the story of one family told through lives of two people bound together by a promise kept.
Inspired by my Uncle BRYAN (a writer, editor and explorer) I wanted to share with you all a photograph of my beloved grandparents, STAN and MARY DEMCHiNSKY. I have kept this photograph close to my heart for years, and the love I have for my family and their history is something I can’t even begin to speak to. Words could never fully express what my family means to me.
Uncle BRYAN worked as a newsprint guy at The Montreal Gazette for nearly 30 years, and during that time he also published 5 books on architecture, biography and literary history – all reflecting his “enduring affection” for his adopted hometown (Flin Flon of course!). I love and admire all of my aunts and uncles, and specifically what I love about Uncle BRYAN is not only his connection to family history, but also his willingness to share it and keep it going – as I find even myself becoming more and more reflective about my family history. My grandparents passed away in the summer of 2009 – and although our family has grown and changed in structure since then – I know many of us still feel a giant void at the loss of STAN and MARY. Someday I too hope to leave something behind that can fully speak to what their love and history means to me and the rest of the family. What is so beautiful to me about my Uncle’s specifically, is that like Grandpa STAN and his brothers, they posses an ability to tell stories in such a way that had all of us kids (and adults alike) listening and connected. This in itself is a family trait passed down to generations.
In the meantime, Uncle BRYAN true to the story-teller that my grandpa/his father was – has started his own website (www.brydem.com) and one of the stories he shares, THE PACT – speaks about the love between STAN and MARY DEMCHiNSKY – as seen in this photograph.
Without further interuption – let me share with you his short story – and for STAN and MARY DEMSHiNSHKY – know that we all miss you and carry you with us – always.