Whitehorse performance artist Paris Pick is releasing her new album, Feeling Love, on November 16 at the Guild Hall. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

Motown modern

Local musician Paris Pick says her new record borrows from funk and soul

The first time Paris Pick sang in front of people, she cried.

She was 13, and shy, and someone broke out a karaoke machine during her then-boyfriend’s family party. At the time, she had no plans to become a musician (she wanted to be a cartoonist). This November though, Pick, now in her 20s, is releasing her second album, Feeling Love.

On Oct. 24, the day before Pick hit the road for a two-week tour of British Columbia, she told the News she came to music late, by picking up a bass guitar when she was in Grade 11.

She was inspired by friends who played. At the same time, she said her confidence had escalated due, in part, to joining student council at her British Columbia high school. There, she was responsible for announcements, DJ duties, planning dances, and acting as an emcee at various events.

“All of a sudden I had this persona that I could be like ‘oh, I’m the person that’s going to engage this crowd right now!’ So that was kind of my introduction to that.”

Pick said she played a bit in B.C., but her public performances really picked up when she moved to the Yukon in 2013. Not that it was her intention to move here. She, like many, came North to visit, and just never left.

Part of the reason, she said, is that, within the first year of living in Whitehorse, she realized how many musical opportunities there were. The city had plenty of open mic nights. There were paying gigs and there were accessible grants.

That’s partly how she funded the recording of Feeling Love and its subsequent tour, she said — by way of a grant from Yukon Media Development.

Pick said she used the grant last winter to block off five days at Old Crow Recording Studio. There, she and producer Patrick Hamilton (who also plays in Soda Pony, which is touring with Pick in B.C. this fall) put the songs together.

She said the sound is a departure from the kind of music she had previously made with her band, Ukes of Hazard.

“I’d say it’s just more constructed,” she said. “It’s a new phase of my life or something. More mature. It’s definitely more soul. That’s kind of the new direction. Ukes of Hazard was a jam band, kind of Grateful Dead-like or something, where this is definitely got more structure, lots of tight parts, horn section.”

Partly, she said that was Hamilton’s influence. Soda Pony has been her backing band for a while, and she said Hamilton’s love of Motown seeped into her songwriting last winter, when she was waitressing at the Minto mine.

“Usually when I have a dull job like that it really just makes me want to create something fun and have like a new personality,” she said.

“When I was working my camp job, I was writing new songs but for whatever reason, since I had been working for four weeks at a time, it made me extra creative, or made me feel more from my heart or something.”

Maybe that’s why, if the record has a theme, she said it’s a general sense of love for the Yukon and everything that means to her.

“Being here and living here and getting the support from the community all the time just makes you constantly, I don’t know, appreciate your surroundings,” she said. “I have a song on there called ‘Yukon Bound,’ which is all about being here in the Yukon and how it’s like this is where we all want to be, for those who are here.”

She said other significant songs include “Dog House,” which is about being on the outs with your partner and trying to convince them that you’ll fix the mistakes that brought you to this point if they’ll just forgive you, and “Presence in this World.”

Pick said that one is about female empowerment, and being a woman in the world.

“I’m in my early 20s, so that song’s just about being confused and lost,” she said, laughing.

Across the album though, Pick said it’s a party record — the kind of thing you can put on in the car, crank, drive, and have a good time with.

Right now, Pick is waiting for copies of the record to arrive for her release at The Guild Hall on Nov. 16. In the meantime, she has 100 copies (with handmade covers) to take on the road with her when she plays Fort St. John, Duncan, Victoria, Port Alberni, Gabriola Island, and Cumberland’s Woodstove Festival.

Once she’s back, she’ll prepare for her launch at the Guild Hall on Nov. 16 (tickets are $15). She said it’s not a typical live music venue, but she hopes the small room, with its cabaret-style seating, will keep with the feel of what she calls her “Motown-modern” record.

“I’m hoping for velvet curtains,” she said.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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