As an arts and culture writer these past few years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet artists of all different styles and disciplines. And while most are talented folks, there are those unfortunate times when an artist’s skills are quickly overshadowed by their ridiculous ego. Anyone who’s ever met singer/songwriter Elgin Skye though knows it’s pretty damn hard not to love her.
Starting out in music with encouragement from friends in Nanaimo, this BC native made Montreal home four years ago. I first saw Elgin perform last summer at Fringe Park, and I admit to being one of those gushing fans who bought a CD and made her sign it. Over the past year I’ve happily watched her presence grow in the Montreal music scene, and so I was thrilled when she agreed to meet Forget the Box for an interview.
Every piece of writing I’ve seen about about Elgin (which I’m shocked to say there is very little of) have all used the same word to describe her: adorable. It’s not exactly hard to see where the impulse comes from; while I’m sure she has her off days like the rest of us, with her sweet disposition it seems almost impossible to imagine Elgin has ever been sad or angry in her entire life. For our photo shoot in Lafontaine park Elgin frolicked in the grass, climbed trees and afterwards invited Chris Zacchia and I over for beer and cookies. Needless to say she’s not only a special lady but also a smart one who knows exactly how to win Forget the Box people over.
Knowing her primarily as a folk singer, I was surprised during our chat when Elgin mentioned how she’s listening to bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth lately for inspiration. Along with her rock ‘n roll influences, she’s also added a looping pedal to her set. The looping pedal is a calculated effort to give, as she put it a “bigger sound” to her set. I caught a little of this “new” Elgin sound at this years Infringement Festival; this year’s set definitely had a higher octane feel to it (helped I’m sure by Elgin pre-show ritual of jumping jacks before a set). No matter what the tempo though, it’s always a pleasure to watch Elgin perform because she clearly pours her heart and soul into every moment on stage. Very often you can tell the band on stage can’t wait to get back to their drinks by the bar and trust me, it makes all the difference.
When looking at Elgin I admit it can be hard to see past the nice girl and her sparkly pink ukulele. But after sitting down with her, I realized that Elgin is definitely ready to be known as much more then adorable. And who can blame her? With Elgin her loveliness sometimes overshadows the fact that she is quite a talented musician. I re-listened to Elgin’s demo I got last summer, I noticed that a lot of her songs are in fact much more on the darker side then I remembered. Sure she has her cutesy songs like, Ladies love Zombies (What a woman wouldn’t give/for a man who only wants her for her brains) but a lot of her songs are also about the pain of longing- longing for a better place to live, (Vancouver Sucks) longing for better social scene (All Alone Here), longing for a better relationship (Jetfighter vs. Submarine)
Despite Elgin’s claims to the contrary of not wanting a full time musical career, I have every confidence that she has the chops to make a real go of it if she really wanted to. And with talks of recording and a tour in her future, I think she knows it to. Elgin’s next show is a private loft party on the 28th with Ingrid Gatin and B.W. Brandes. You can email the lady herself firstname.lastname@example.org for all the info.
Listen to her album and if you like it buy it for 5$
Check out Daniel Torchinsky’s recent podcast featuring Elgin.