What's that sound?
I’m curious–when you first listen to Dancing Back to Back, what instrument do you think is playing the extended solo at 2:52 ? If you want a chance to listen before I tell you what it is, click on the button below and come back here afterwards.
My Uncle Guessed it was a Guitar
When I played this for my uncle the first time, I remember him mentioning that he really wanted to hear the guitar solo again. He was even more surprised when I told him that solo was actually me on my violin. To his credit, I used some electric guitar effects (distortion and octave pedals) to give it a similar sound, but it's still my acoustic violin. You can see the whole effect in the video.
SOLO Video Version
Folk vs Rock
For some of you, this track may have been a bit too, um “plugged in” for folk music. In my last semester at McGill, I actually took a history of popular music class where I learned (and finally understood) the history of the debate about separating folk from rock music. Many folk fans saw rock sonorities (like electric guitars and loud sounds) as antithetical to folk music. For them, folk music was about authenticity and personal storytelling and the inclusion of rock sounds suggested something too commercial. This sentiment was so strong that Bob Dylan was actually booed off the stage at Newport Folk Festival in 1965 for playing a set with rock instruments. Thankfully, over time, folk songwriters using sonorities that were popular at the time were able to convince folk audiences that their choice in intruments did not mean they were being any less authentic or any more 'commercial'. Based on this song, you may have already surmised that I don’t think folk and rock are opposites, but more like different color palettes to write songs with. In this case, this song pays homage to my time playing with the local Montreal rock band The History of Gunpowder where got to play a lot of distortion violin nonsense and it was a lot of fun. My time in the rockband clearly had its influence on my sound and it seemed perfectly appropriate for this song because it is actually about one of the band members in that rock band. He had gone through a bad breakup and when I set out to write a song about it, it would have felt inauthentic not to pay homage to him sonically as well as lyrically. The colour palette for this song is pretty dark and angry, but I think it works because this song is about betrayal and anger, after all.
The History of Gunpowder
The History of Gunpowder
In case you're interested, The History of Gunpowder is still going strong, but has moved to be based out of Vancouver. I am still good friends with the members (I actually joined the band along with my bass player Stephane who I still play with). You can check out the video above from when we were all playing together in Montreal or check their socials below!