– Male Boxx: Brendan Canning
Brendan Canning practices what he preaches. After decades of performing in Toronto alt-rock outfits, from ‘90s post-grunge hopefuls hHead to indie all-stars Broken Social Scene, the Canadian rock veteran is finally taking a breather on his sophomore solo release.
Aptly named You Gots 2 Chill, the record is a richly textured homespun acoustic set reminding listeners to take it easy—with Canning serving as the mantra’s living example. Amid the mass of projects he continuously pushes across his desk, Canning refuses to start his day rushing out of the house like a frenzied millennial, opting to spend the morning enjoying coffee on the stoop of his 20-year home in Toronto. His calm demeanor is proof of his patient approach to life, and he has a lethargic way of speaking that leaves you uncertain whether he’s finished talking or simply gotten lost in transcendental thought.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s just to breathe through the aggravating moments in life, and not be so quick to presume things about any kind of situation,” he says.
This wisdom comes in part from his over 12-year run with Broken Social Scene, whom he only recently parted with following whirling break-up rumors and last-show-ever announcements. Despite their somewhat rocky demise, the band helped Canning record his first solo LP, Something For All of Us, easing him into a one-man career. Though technically his second release, You Gots 2 Chill serves as his true solo debut. With its mellow lulls and whispered melodies, the record has Canning written all over it—quite literally, since he handcrafted the cover art.
“It’s just a different period of my life. When I did this record, it was done in a very different fashion,” he says. “[My last solo album] was ‘Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning.’ So in my mind, it was kind of like a Broken Social Scene record, and this latest one just isn’t.”
Still, the album gave Canning a chance to reflect on his storied BSS past, evoking sentimental nostalgia he’d previously dismissed.
“When you play in a band for so long it’s a very common thing for a band to start being very annoyed by other band members, or just annoyed by the fact that you’re in a band even though you’re doing really great,” he says. “It’s a weird thing—it’s just too close of proximity. But I think I’ve realized how many aspects of [Broken Social Scene] I really enjoyed.”
Whether in a full-blown collective like BSS or writing harmonies barefoot in his living room, Canning’s mission is simple.
“I’m just trying to make music that people will like, and music that I like,” he says. “I’m trying to make something that will last the test of time.”
Check out our additional Q&A with Canning to see which female artists he thinks meet this mission.
You collaborated with Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit on “Bullied Days.” What about her style inspired you to put her on the album?
“She’s got a kick ass voice and she’s a cool girl. I had that song written, but I didn’t have somebody to kind of give it the treatment that it needed, and she’s a heavy-hitter. There’s a lot of Snowblink tunes I like. It just worked out nicely. I wish I could do some more music with her.”
Are there any female musicians you’ve been heavily listening to as of late?
“I’ve been listening to PJ Harvey— the Let England Shake record. I like Bat for Lashes’ record from 2007. Of course I like Feist, and also a singer named Anika. Beach House, that’s another one. There’s a lot.”
How have these artists inspired you and your music?
“I just listen to music and I play music, so whatever I’m listening to inspires me. It’s not like I’m listening to Bat for Lashes and I’m like, ‘I’m going to write a Bat for Lashes song.’ I just enjoy music. I enjoy things that are pleasing to my ears, and it kind of gives you encouragement to keep working on music—you want to be a part of that club. PJ Harvey has one track called “All and Everyone” that has a reggae sample, and that’s a pretty cool idea. You wouldn’t expect there to be a reggae sample in a PJ Harvey track.”
If you could collaborate with one female musician—living or dead—who would it be and why?
“I’d say Neko Case. She’s got the craziest voice.”