Volume 93, Issue 60
Tuesday, January 18, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Dorion an otherworldly treat
Gazette file photo
By Mark Pytlik
Some people are just old souls.
That's probably the best way to describe singer/songwriter Julie Doiron, whose potent brand of chilling, sickly-sweet pop is slowly turning her into one of Canada's great indie hopes for the coming year. Whether musing over her creative endeavours or marvelling at her curious combination of innocence and artistic vigour, there's no doubt that, like her work, Doiron possesses an odd, otherworldly quality.
For proof, listen to her self-titled debut album, recorded with the aid of backing band the Wooden Stars. It's one of those rare records which sounds as if it was recorded in a dimly lit clearing in the woods at some exotic location, rather than in a recording studio.
Likewise, her stark and often compelling black and white photographs seem like exaggerated fragments of the real world. Doiron has a real knack for coaxing extraordinary art from the most ordinary ingredients.
When confronted with such sentiments, she lets out a measured laugh before mulling the idea over a bit. "Well, it definitely felt like we were [recording] in the middle of nowhere," she concedes. "I think that the record was influenced by the way that we were working together more than anything."
Doiron has been writing her own songs for a very long time. After the disintegration of her old band, Eric's Trip, she decided it was time to take the centre spotlight, so she wrote a batch of stark, melancholy songs and took them to her friends, the Wooden Stars.
After a few jam sessions and slight reworkings, it was clear that the two entities had tapped into something special. "The practices went so well and so spontaneously, that we managed to retain some sort of freshness by the time we got to the record," she recalls. "Those songs still come out different every time we play them live."
The collective have already done their fair share of touring, including a daunting opening stint for The Tragically Hip on their New Year's Day show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. "[The Hip] are great people, but their fans are notoriously harsh. Everybody who gets asked to open for them are prepared for that," she sighs.
"It's kind of funny though, because the Hip pick all of their favourite bands [to open] because they're the bands that they want to hear and yet their fans don't care."
No matter though taking in a Doiron show in an arena is a lot like trying to look at a painting from 50 feet away. To fully appreciate her whispered brand of tunesmithery, you need the ability to hear the intricate details put into each song.
Does her eye for photography inform her songwriting ability? "I find them quite similar," she agrees. "There's process involved [in both] and I like to create moods and stories in photos as well. A lot of my photos have a nice mood, almost like film stills and I try to do the same thing with songwriting."
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