Working with Anique Granger
I had the opportunity to write this song, Head Above Water, with Anique Granger, an award-winning songwriter and podcast host. It was a fitting collaboration because the song is all about the importance of asking for help when you feel overwhelmed. I was having a really hard time writing it and in the end, I asked for help from an artist I respect and look up to and we were able to finish the song together. Anique was extremely kind and supportive with her time and such a talented singer and songwriter. You can check out what she’s been doing with her latest music and podcast project, where she takes you through the writing process. It’s beautiful and worth a listen!
SOLO Video Version
Very quickly into the writing process, we knew that the song would need banjo. So, I reached out to Meredith Moon, a great singer-songwriter based in Toronto. You’ve probably heard of her, but in case you haven’t, check out here. Meredith also happens to be a great banjo player.
Unfortunately, because of an unexpected wave of Covid, Meredith was unable to travel to us for the session. So, I turned to my bass player Stephane and asked him if he could do it within the week if I got him a banjo. For some context: Stephane had never played the banjo before; he plays bass in my band, but he can play almost anything (bass, piano, guitar, fiddle, cello, charango, trombone, etc.) For the most part, if he owns an instrument, he can play it. But he didn’t own a banjo yet. After about 15 minutes, he figured out what tuning he would use and he told me to go get him a banjo for the track. I borrowed one from my aunt and with only a few days to practice, Stephane did his thing!
From bass to banjo
On the Recording Process
For this particular track, my producer (Will Owen Bennett) and I came up with the idea of making a drone with the banjo (we dubbed it the banjdrone). We decided to bow the banjo strings and Will was able to take that sound and affect it into the drone sound you hear at the start of Head Above Water. If you’re curious about sound engineering, you can check out Will’s short clips on instagram where he talks through what steps he took to get certain effects. I want to thank Will Owen Bennett for producing the album so masterfully and he proved to be a critical collaborator for this album. Recently he even work with the incredibly innovative Zambian-Canadian rapper Backxwash for which they won a Polaris prize!
I wanted to introduce my cat, Boo Boo (his name is a long story). Although he does not qualify as a collaborator on the album, I am grateful that he’s along for the ride. I think companion animals can make your day a little better, especially on days where you’re just trying to keep your head above water. Here’s a clip of him playing the piano as well as some of the many pictures that populate my phone's camera roll.
He is incredibly needy and cannot be pet enough. He always wants to be included in the conversation and wants his own chair if we are sitting in the living room. He is super cute, slightly wall-eyed and never falls on his feet. Seriously, if you put him down, you have to lower him all the way down to the floor or he will thud onto his side with no attempt to put his feet out. He is a goof and he may not be the most clever, but his love is boundless.