Volume 93, Issue 16

Friday, September 24, 1999


Weekend Pass

Veda Hille nibbles on humble pie

Smashers work for a fun planet

Type-O gives metal life

Adaptation not pride of Stratford

Chicago maps out its own soundscape

The good, the bad and the just there



Veda Hille nibbles on humble pie

Photo by L.C. Blister Imaging
THEY'RE REAL, DAMMIT. TOUCH 'EM FOR YOURSELF. Veda Hille and Scrappy Bitch tourmates bring feistiness to the Spoke tonight.

By Sara Martel
Gazette Staff

As I read the words "Go on, ya beast of a whore!" offered as an excerpt within the musician's press kit, I know I'm in for the proverbial breath of fresh air.

Spoken by an obviously ardent Irish fan, such quotations don't find their way into many press bios, which generally try to sell the artist as the second coming.

As soon as my conversation with Veda Hille proceeds, however, I realize she's not trying to sell me anything. In fact, the entire interview amounted to a look at a candid musician who is happy sharing her unscripted thoughts while laughing at herself, rather than selling herself.

The Vancouver born musician doesn't even spotlight herself within the forum most might expect – her own lyrics. "I'm the sum of a lot of years and I think who you are is always in good music, but I don't like putting myself centre stage," she admits. "In this new album I write about other people and things a lot."

So what subjects do meander into her lyrics? "Good stories. People who are a little estranged from easy sociability, people who have different ways of looking at things or communicating. I'm interested in specifics. Although I guess I do tackle some broad stuff about basic existence too."

Judging from her eclectic resume, the artist certainly doesn't mind sidestepping the mainstream, as opposed to doting on it. In addition to her six album discography, Hill's list of projects includes prolific composition for modern dance in Canada, a plethora of scores for short films and a five minute voice solo inspired by the calls of Canadian songbirds.

Perhaps where Hille's humility glares most is in the unobtrusive packaging of The Scrappy Bitch Tour, originated by fellow musician, Oh Susanna and Hille herself. The tour avoids taking itself too seriously or steeping itself in pretentious hype. When asked about Scrappy Bitch, now on its third run from Montreal to Toronto, she never once pitches it.

"We just have a lot of fun together. We do our own stuff, but we each play on each other's music. It's a fun show, with lots of banter and goofy stuff," she muses. "Who knows, maybe this show will be a sober time, but you never know."

A final invigorating omission on Hille's part is the noticeable absence of any talk about "girl power" or the significance of women sharing the stage, as other female tours so often do.

"There are a lot more women doing music, but there is also a counter-attack on these women," Hille speculates on the current scene of women in music. "Artists like Ani DiFranco are making their own way, but so many others are in their wake, manufactured by [record] companies and trying to be what they think we want. I try not to look at music in terms of gender. I try to look at it in terms of who people really are."

The Scrappy Bitch Tour, including Kinnie Starr, Veda Hille and Oh Susanna, is at The Spoke tonight.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999