Homeward Bound

Rae Spoon takes new back-to-basics record on tour

Maya Bankovic

There are few artists who hold the ability to work in a myriad of media while still being humbly productive and keeping their feet grounded. Rae Spoon is one of those few.

“I was releasing an album every year-and-a-half and a book every year-and-a-half and I just decided it was really weird and extensive,” Spoon says while laughing, from their current home in Montreal. “It was like an excessive habit.”

Currently, Spoon is preparing to play the first show marking the last leg of a long tour for their most recent album, My Prairie Home. Following this tour, Spoon plans on moving back to the place where they were born and bred, Calgary, Alberta.

The return home succeeds a big year for the 33-year-old musician and writer (“it’s old for a musician and young for a writer,” Spoon says, giggling); 2014 brought the international release of My Prairie Home, a documentary-musical created by fellow Canadian Chelsea McMullan which centres around Spoon’s music and life growing up on the prairies as a trans person as well as a musician.

Spoon’s album of the same name was created in conjunction with the score for the film and serves as their 10th album released in 11 years as a recording musician.

Spoon began writing during the creation of McMullan’s film as a means of communicating their childhood anecdotes that dealt with coming-of-age on the prairies as someone who doesn’t conform to the gender binary, or the classification of gender into the two distinct categories of masculine and feminine. McMullan encouraged Spoon to publish the fascinating works.

“It was really interesting to sit down and write half a book about gender because before that I had always been writing about everything else,” Spoon says of their experience penning 2014’s Gender Failure alongside artist Ivan E. Coyote. “It’s been cool to be able to express that and there’s been lots of great feedback about the book. There have been a lot of people who feel that the gender binary isn’t fitting to everybody.”

Spoon’s artistic talents haven’t been the only area that has allowed for gear shifting: their music style has also shifted dramatically over the years. After starting out as a country/gospel-influenced folk artist, Spoon has since recorded music with indie rock, electronic and experimental sensibilities. While living in Germany, Spoon was exposed to electronic, which pulled them away from their country roots.

“I thought it would be interesting to try and change but still remain a songwriter,” Spoon explains. “I wanted to take songwriting and to have these folk songs but within electronic music.”

The stylistic experimentation has paid off for the two-time Polaris Prize nominee, who now appears to be returning to their roots both physically and musically.

“I’ll probably start making electronic music again once I’m in rural Alberta,” Spoon says, laughing. “I always seem to revisit the prairies somehow.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 26, 2014)

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