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A Dirty Dozen with PAIGE CORA – January 2020

| 7 January 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Singer-songwriter Paige Cora is set to release her debut album, Instant in Time, on January 24, 2020.  Written and produced by the Ft. Erie, Ontario-based artist herself, engineered and mixed by Jae Daniel, and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London by Christian Wright (Ed Sheeran, Franz Ferdinand, Blur, Keane), Instant in Time teems with the confidence of a seasoned performer defining her voice and serves as both a bold manifesto and introduction.”  We get Paige to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo Credit: Jennifer McCready

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

There are a couple hidden moments that take me back to our time in the studio. For example, at the end of the song “Echoes,” you can hear a car drive by. The studio we worked in was in Black Rock in Buffalo NY, built right into a house, and I like that it carries a bit of that environment. In the song “Stray Balloons,” our harmony singer, Jessie Rivest, and I experimented with layering multiple voices of counter melodies at this key part near the end of the song. The result is this brief disorientation, that transitions back to a single voice and minimalist piano. It’s one of my favourite moments on the record because it was so organic, yet out of the box.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I have this very distinct memory of painting the bedroom belonging to my sister and me at our father’s apartment. My father is a musician, so his apartment was basically a recording studio and rehearsal space. I was maybe 12, and we were painting the bedroom a deep indigo purple, which our father let us pick out. He put on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band vinyl, and I heard the song “She’s Leaving Home.” I couldn’t believe that this song felt like it was written just for me, which is one of the wonderful powers The Beatles’ music possesses. The lush strings, the girl feeling secluded and restricted; it was so perfectly executed, creating an entire universe in a single song. From there, I set out to learn The Beatles’ catalogue, got an acoustic guitar, and started teaching myself how to write music. There are so many stories of The Beatles inspiring kids to get into music — it’s amazing that it keeps happening to each new generation.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

It always goes back to Bowie for me. Hunky Dory was such an influential album for me. I was really into glam rock in my late teens, and as a performer he felt like a teacher. I began creating costumes for my performances, and moving around the stage the way he did. However just like Bowie’s feeling toward the “plastic” Ziggy Stardust, my own “shtick” started to feel vacant, and too bombastic. While on tour traveling to Detroit one winter, our tour manager played me Joni Mitchell’s Blue. It felt like an answer, like what I was looking for. I thought, “I want to do this now,” become more vulnerable and strip down to the basics. I think it’s my love of Bowie and Joni that combine to make the music I write today.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

My trinity is Joni, Kate, and Patti (Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Patti Smith). I’d also include Bowie and The Beatles. Whenever I am in doubt artistically, I think, WWPSD? What would Patti Smith do? I think I should make it a t-shirt. She’s a great source of strength.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Roland Orzabal. When I first heard “The Hurting” by Tears for Fears I didn’t stop listening for six months. All I had in my apartment at the time as a demo studio were a bunch of synths and keyboards. Roland’s songwriting and vocal arrangements shifted how I arranged my songs, and helped me use what I had. Creation under restraint is the best asset you don’t own.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

It’s euphoric, ethereal, dreamy. It’s pop music with soul, folk, and alternative indie influences. There was a comparison, not so much that I disagreed with it, but it threw me off guard. Someone said I reminded them of Mazzy Star, who I love, but I didn’t hear the connection.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I like to make sure everyone is taken care of food and beverage-wise, so we can keep collaborating and enjoying ourselves. A lot of hummus and veg… ha ha. Frank Grizanti, our guitar player, is like the band “dad,” he’s so warm and helpful to keep the studio time moving forward. He’s usually the first to pull out a song or a silly impression of someone. Untouchable guitar player, just so incredibly talented.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Probably Ringo Starr. I was allowed to join this small group of people who got to do a meet and greet with him because they had purchased a painting of his. I happened to know the gallery owner who set it up, so I sort of got snuck in. I totally nerded out, and was dressed in my favourite 1960’s vintage garb. I caught him staring at me a few times, probably thinking, Who’s this 20 year old walking around like it’s 1968!? It doesn’t get much bigger than a Beatle.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

What I do part-time is run a not-for-profit animal sanctuary, helping feral cats mostly, and farm animals. I’ve helped care for squirrels, Berkshire pigs, and many cats. I would love to do it full time at some point, and expand the sanctuary. Being a musician, expressing yourself through this artistic form is very therapeutic; I think it serves my life, and keeps me balanced, curious, and spontaneous.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Well my bio writer actually asked me about the articulations in my vocal performance, and wondered how my approach was shaped by my influences. He completely threw me off guard in the best way, so I guess someone has asked me one that really piqued my interests. I told him my early exposure to film noire and MGM musicals, where their annunciation is so clear and balanced, I think, gives my singing voice a type of etiquette. In terms of what I am tired of answering? I’m only tired of convincing strangers giving advice that, no, “American Idol” is not the best way to have a music career.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Yes, when I went to India. At the time, I was the lead singer/songwriter for an indie band in Toronto. When I went away for a few weeks, the band booked a show without me, and performed my unfinished material and lyrics, essentially premiering new material without me, and without telling me. They proudly recorded it and posted it online, as if it was all their own. We had been having issues as a band, but when I look back at that moment, that was the time to move on, and I held on for another year or so. It was a blatant lack of respect and immaturity, which only grew worse as time went on. So definitely I wish I had pivoted, and had enough strength myself to walk away. However, when I look back, I am grateful that the path ended, it absolutely had to if I was going to emerge and carry out my own musical vision, and happiness. It’s funny, only when you are removed from groups of energy do you realize just how toxic it was, and you get to generate your own environment that serves you. The silver lining was that our manager remained loyal to me to this day, and has taught me everything I needed to know about resilience, ambition, and creating your own reality. I credit him among all to where I am today.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I could comb over my favourite moments in music, but honestly there was one clear session that came into my head immediately. The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” broadcast would be it. It’s over the pre-recorded track, but it’s got a group chorus, and honestly, it’s the most memorable and resonant lyric in music history. Who doesn’t want to chant that while being broadcast across the world? If I had to sneak in another, it would be the making of Television’s Marquee Moon.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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