Musician Kathryn Kerr’s creative path from jazz saxophonist to dream pop singer-songwriter isn’t a hiked trail; it’s a literal railroad.
“I graduated from (Brandon University) with a jazz degree,” Kerr says. “After that, I worked on the train with Via Rail for a couple years. That’s why I started playing solo music, because no one wants to be in a band with someone who can’t play in the summer. I worked all summer and couldn’t tour or play festivals, so I’d write music in the winters and silently release it online.”
Kerr currently releases her solo music under the moniker Tansy, traversing folk-tinged, guitar-driven compositions with a lo-fi, minimalist approach. Releases like 2017’s Swim/Sleep and 2014’s Wood Songs balance structured songwriting with a dreamy aesthetic, reading like psychedelic lullabies.
While the move from saxophone to soundscapes may seem unusual, Kerr is actually one of a large handful of Brandon University alumni exploring other genres in Winnipeg’s music scene.
“There’s a bunch of people from my graduating class (in Winnipeg) who don’t play our regular instruments,” Kerr says. “I went to school with most of Slow Spirit. (Guitarist Eric Roberts) and I were both saxophone players. (Keyboardist) Julian Beutel was in my graduating class. Ashley Au too, she’s a bass player who’s playing like crazy in the city.”
Kerr’s cozy South Osborne home started out as a rental. But after falling in love with the house, she jumped on the opportunity to buy when her landlords were selling.
“This house is like, the ‘nicest vibes’ house,” Kerr says. “I don’t believe in ghosts, even though I kind of want to. But when I first started renting it, I noticed the good vibes.
… It’s the opposite of a haunted house.”
“The people that lived in my house before me were an actor and an interior architect. So I feel like she planned all the shelves at the exact right height, and all the light fixtures are exactly the right lighting. It was really nice moving into a place like this.”
“The retro radio came with my parents’ cottage. It still works!”
Black sheep bookend
“My good friend Natasha writes a quarterly magazine called rip/torn, and I won this at one of their fundraisers.”
Jam and recording space
Viva Non’s James Hofer “practises here, too. So it’s Viva Non stuff on the left, Tansy on the right.”
“I can put the guitars up on the walls for the photo, but they’re not anchored yet. I just tested them out for spacing, so I can’t leave them on for too long. I’m so excited for when I actually anchor them, so the guitars can stay there.”
”Lock this if small humans are here!”
“I host a monthly brunch on Sundays, mostly with music scene people. Everyone drops in, and some people bring their kids, which is very nerve-wracking, since my house is not child-proof. Last time, one of my heating grates fell on a baby’s head.”
Published in Volume 72, Number 19 of The Uniter (March 1, 2018)