With performances at Saint John’s Quality Block Party, Pop Montreal, and Halifax Pop Explosion under their belts, Wrote is currently on their first tour of the Maritimes, in support of their new single “Not Afraid.”
The brainchild of Saint John singer/songwriter Erin Muir (Usse), Wrote’s music is unabashedly honest, offering a sweet contrast to the often stark revelations of self tucked into the song arrangements.
Muir recently took the time to chat with us about the group’s new single, as well as the band’s upcoming full-length, which is due for release in April.
Tell me a bit about your musical journey leading up to Wrote. When did you start playing and writing songs?
I was always a pretty creative, wacky kid: I wrote short stories and poems for as long as I can remember. When I was 13 or so I began playing guitar after the dance school I had been enrolled in closed down. I needed something to keep myself busy that summer. I grew up a bit outside of town and didn’t have any friends nearby, so I taught myself how to play chords on this toy guitar I had gotten for Christmas when I was a bit younger but had abandoned for teenage pursuits. After I figured out you only really needed rudimentary knowledge of how music worked to write songs, it just became this enviable thing that I had started to do without really thinking about it. In high school, from the second I would get off the bus until I went sleep I worked on music, whether it was writing songs or learning covers, or just trying to teach myself theory (which was not one of my most fruitful endeavours). I wrote a lot of songs throughout high school, because again I was stuck outside of town with no friends close by.
When I started university I kind of dropped the ball on music for a while and focused on my studying, but I was always keenly interested in the local scene and still went to shows and hung out with musicians. I was always very self conscious around the people in the scene though, and it took a long time for me to start playing my music again. Before focusing on the Wrote material I played in a couple bands (Tooth and the Fang, Usse) that helped me gain back some confidence that I had lost from not actively creating my own music. Now I would consider Wrote my main focus, since the summer of 2016.
How did your backing band come together? Are these folks all buds and people you’ve known for awhile?
Dan Chamberlain, who is playing keys for me on the tour has been there since the beginning. I think our collaboration started just from him asking me if he could record my music, which I don’t even think he had heard at that point. He just kind of knew I was working on things and wanted to support me. I really don’t think I would have started the project, or have put much effort into it had it not been for Dan. We played for a while with a couple different drummers, and I would often just play solo because scheduling with musicians can be a royal pain. I had opened up a show for Ocean Charter of Values a little while back where I met Nick Laugher and Evan Matthews, and although Nick hasn’t been involved with any musical aspects of the project he has been an incredible help and support. Evan saw me play a couple times after that, and reached out to me about producing an album last August (2017), and we set up a couple days in October to record, and have been teleworking on the project since. Hannah jumped on board in December 2017 when we played a show in Halifax that was set up with Laugher. I instantly clicked with Hannah, she’s enthusiastic, learned the songs inhumanly quick, and is overall a rad human being.
It’s really important for me to acknowledge these people, and I want to stress just how crucial they have been to the project. Evan, Dan, and especially Nick have been an unwavering source of inspiration and support over the last year. I owe so much to them.
Over what period of time did the songs on your upcoming album come together?
The bulk of the songs were written from August 2016 to January/February 2017. Most of them were a way for me to work through a particularly hard point of my life. At the time, I was incredibly depressed and directionless, and having to come to grips with the painfully drawn out end of a romantic relationship. But immersing myself into this songwriting craft again really helped me back into the person I knew I was and could be again. It was a very healing and self actualizing process, which makes me all the more proud of the songs and where they have gone since then.
I’m assuming that either you oversaw the performance of the material on the record. Were you at all concerned about how the songs would translate to a full band arrangement?
This was actually a huge source of anxiety for me! I was equal parts excited and nervous to see where these songs would go at the hands of someone who hadn’t been previously involved. But luckily, Evan was very good at keeping communication open and made a continual point not to “step on my toes” as he put it, which I think was as much of an exercise for him as being open to additional instrumentation was for me. Evan isn’t exactly a minimalist, and my style is essentially founded on very simple, minimal techniques, so the pairing was a bit odd, but it worked out phenomenally well. Furthermore, Evan is very intuitive and he picked up on these unspoken and unrealized vibes that I had been giving off, so there are some really interesting psychedelic influences that I never would have applied to my songwriting, but have always loved as a separate entity.
Wrote Tour Dates:
March 2 — Moncton, NB — The Attic
March 3 — Charlottetown, PEI — Baba’s Lounge
March 8 — Halifax, NS — Gus’ Pub
March 9 — Fredericton, NB — Read’s Newsstand
March 10 — Saint John, NB — Taco Pica