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Murdoch returns to his roots

Whitehorse native James Murdoch was born into music.After all, it was his family that started the Frantic Follies nearly 40 years ago.

Whitehorse native James Murdoch was born into music.

After all, it was his family that started the Frantic Follies nearly 40 years ago.

“I just sort of always grew up around music and I was always interested in it,” said Murdoch from his Edmonton home.

“I definitely know, from some of the other musicians that I’ve spoken to, that I got an early start — especially performing live.”

Murdoch began playing piano and guitar when he was just six years old and by the time he was eight he was already performing for radio.

In December, Murdoch released his fourth solo album, In Transit.

“It was a long process to get it recorded,” he said.

Murdoch started recording the album in the Yukon.

However, the new songs didn’t sound the way the record label had hoped.

“It was mostly the production style,” said Murdoch.

“It was a really raw sounding, loose recording, which I really liked.”

The record company wasn’t as enthusiastic.

They wanted Murdoch to re-record a slicker sounding album.

“It was difficult to deal with the fact that I thought it was a great record and they … I mean, they didn’t hate it, but it just wasn’t getting them inspired,” he said.

“So that was difficult, but the biggest part that I found frustrating was that I was ready to go.

“I was hoping to have a new record, to be able to tour and get some new opportunities.

“My career kind of felt like it was on hold, because I didn’t have any record and it had been close to three years since the other one had been out.”

Murdoch released some of the original songs in his 2005 Postcards EP and went back into the studio, this time teaming up with fellow singer/songwriter Hawksley Workman.

“We did some re-recording and we also had some new songs,” said Murdoch.

“The final product has about 50 per cent of the old stuff and 50 per cent of stuff I had written while I was waiting to re-record.”

The songs are inspired by Murdoch’s travels and performances in Spain, New York and the Yukon.

His songwriting has matured and his sound has changed a lot since his last album, Between the Lines, which was released in 2004.

“I felt I was more responsible with the songs, you know, I felt accountable for them,” he said.

“So I spent more time working on the details of the songs.

“That’s something that I’m continuing to do, even now. I look at details a lot more and I don’t just let things slide in order to just finish a song.”

He is also a lot more willing to work with other songwriters and do collaborations, he added.

Murdoch’s music often gets compared to the likes of Blue Rodeo and Crowded House.

However, he enjoys and draws from many different styles of music.

“Just last night I was at a concert by a guy named Jason Collett, a member of Broken Social Scene and he’s got his own project, just a solo thing, and it was fantastic — a really great concert,” he said.

“I saw Hawksley (Workman) the night before too. That was also a really inspiring show to see.

“So there’s lots of music that I love listening to that I probably don’t sound exactly like,” he said.

“But I feel that I certainly am inspired by them if I’m not, you know, trying to rip them off or sound similar to them.”

After a spell of wandering, Murdoch has settled in Edmonton.

“At the time it was a cheap place to live,” he said.

“But there’s also an interesting scene here, especially for singer/songwriters — a community that I am now definitely a part of.”

He still tries to make it back to the Yukon once a year to visit his grandparents who live in Whitehorse.

“I haven’t played up there in quite a few years,” said Murdoch.

“So I’m really looking forward to that, for sure.”

James Murdoch will be playing Wednesday, April 1st, at the Yukon Arts Centre.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the Yukon Arts Centre box office and the Arts Underground.