Wednesday, July 28, 2010

INTERVIEW : Timber Timbre talks festivals and his mysterious side

Montreal-based Timber Timbre is the brainchild of Taylor Kirk, and he recently joined us at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival to discuss his experiences in festivals across Canada, as well as his perchance for dark, moody shows.

Accompanying Kirk on tour are musicians Simon Trottier (Ferris Wheel) on lapsteel and autoharp, and Mika Posen (Forest City Lovers) on violin. He described how playing folk festivals, of which Vancouver’s was his first, is “a whole other world.” Timber Timbre, other than his own showcase, collaborated with other artists such as The Deep Dark Woods and Nathan in workshops, as well as played a short “tweener” set prior to Arizona’s Calexico’s main stage headlining set. Contrast this with his experience at the Ottawa Blues Fest the week prior, which included acts such as Rush and Supertramp, where they “played after a pretty dirty blues rock band.” As Kirk laughingly recalls, “it was pretty nuts.”

Don’t be fooled in thinking that the mellow atmosphere at sunny Jericho Beach meant Kirk had a chance to let down his guard. At Victoria’s Rifflandia Festival, where I caught him last September, Timber Timbre’s set was in an unlit church with 5 sole red spotlights fixed on the performers (see right). You couldn’t even see their faces, and only discerning fans could be sure how many people were actually on stage. When probed about his desire for a mysterious aura, Kirk commented, “we’re not used to playing in the daylight, in open air.” For him, being in an indoor venue allows greater artistic control over his setting. “Starting from nothing and having total control – starting from zero light and zero decibels, with a totally quiet audience,” and building up not only the sound but also the mood and ambiance is an important part of the Timber Timbre live show.

Timber Timbre enjoyed wildly positive critical reception of his Arts & Crafts released self-titled album, which resulted in a 2009 Polaris longlist nomination. Kirk revealed that he’s looking forward to the end of summer jaunt through Canada in order to head back into the studios to record material for a new album. So make sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for more of his brand of atmospheric night-time freak folk.

(interviewed by Alex Cameron and Brenda Lee, photos by Brenda Lee)