Stepping off the sidelines into the spotlight

Better known as a side-person for other people’s musical projects, Julie Fader strikes out on her own with Outside In

Julie Fader is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, Wurlitzer, flute and melodica. James Mejia

You may not be familiar with the name Julie Fader, but chances are you’re familiar with the bands she plays with.

The 30-something, Toronto-based musician is a touring member of Sarah Harmer’s band, a member of Great Lake Swimmers and appears on Chad VanGaalen’s latest release, Soft Airplane.

That means she performed on not one, but two of this year’s Polaris Prize-nominated recordings – the aforementioned Soft Airplane and GLS’ Lost Channels.

“I was a little nervous [at the award ceremony] about the fact that I was performing in two bands that were nominated – I felt a little strange about that,” Fader said recently by phone from a diner in Revelstoke, B.C., where she had just ordered a breakfast of potato pancakes.

“But once I was there and [Great Lake Swimmers’ and Chad VanGaalen’s] tables were side by side, it was pretty sweet. It was a very friendly night.”

Fader is currently on tour as part of VanGaalen’s backing band, which includes a stop this Friday, Oct. 9 at the Park Theatre.

The cross-country trek includes a smattering of her own solo shows in support of her debut solo CD, Outside In.

A multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, Wurlitzer, flute and melodica, Fader recorded the CD at home over the past few years with her boyfriend, Graham Walsh of electronica quartet Holy Fuck.

“It was really important that Graham and I recorded this album together,” Fader said. “Because we started it together, because we live together, because the songs were so personal and because it was sort of my first time putting myself out there.”

Harmer, VanGaalen, GLS’ Tony Dekker and Erik Arnesen, Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt, Justin Rutledge, A Northern Chorus’ Pete Hall, Hey Rosetta’s Erin Aurich and Apostle of Hustle’s Dean Stone all showed up to help out.

The result is a gorgeous, warm, bewitching, multi-layered record that’s earned Fader the moniker “spectral singer-songwriter” from one music critic.

“It’s a really, really exciting feeling to have the record out there. The support I’m getting from people is overwhelming.”

She hasn’t scheduled a solo show in Winnipeg, but Fader is hoping it won’t be long before she can come to the city to share Outside In live.

“You know who I’ve been pestering is John K. Samson. I know he’s working on a solo project right now – that’s the word on the street – and I would love to play some shows with him. I’m such a fan, and he’s the best guy and the best lyricist, and I’m hoping sometime I could maybe come to Winnipeg and play a solo show with him.

“But right now, that’s just wishful thinking.”

An accomplished visual artist, Fader is hoping to spend the winter painting and recording her next album.

She’s also looking forward to more shows with Great Lake Swimmers, Harmer and VanGaalen.

“I’m looking forward to my future as a side-person,” Fader said. “I don’t want to stop playing with the people I love, whose songs I love.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 8, 2009)

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