On her new album Spare Parts, out now on Seventh Fire Records, roots rocker Kayla Howran found inspiration from returning to her hometown of Peterborough, Ontario after spending several years in Toronto. However, the move was hardly a retreat, as Howran brought back a wealth of live experience and many high-profile connections.
One of those was Colin Cripps (Blue Rodeo, Crash Vegas, Kathleen Edwards), who produced Spare Parts at The Tragically Hip’s studio, the Bathouse. With his steady hand guiding the process, Howran was confident in moving away from the classic country sound that was the hallmark of her 2011 debut album Pistol, and exploring new sonic territory, along with a more personal and complex songwriting approach.
It was a natural evolution for Howran in many ways, having grown up in a family steeped in traditional country music. While those influences will always be the foundation of her work, Howran ultimately felt a closer kinship with more contemporary Canadian roots artists, and with Spare Parts she has made a strong case for inclusion into that club.
Howran is currently on tour with fellow Peterborough singer/songwriter Dylan Ireland, covering much of western Canada this month. For full details go to kaylahowranmusic.com.
What makes Spare Parts stand apart from your debut?
I think it’s all about growth. My music, songwriting, and live performances have all benefited from time and experience from one album to the next. There also doesn’t seem to be just one right way to go about making music and recording albums. It’s a new experience each time.
What was the experience like working with Colin Cripps as your producer?
I feel so lucky to have had the chance to work with Colin. Watching him work was kind of like watching bees to pollen – he just naturally knows exactly what he is doing. He is such an amazing and lovely person, and he made me feel completely at ease in the studio. I never felt the need to question anything he was doing.
Is there a particular song on the album that best represents your overall vision at the moment?
Maybe not any song in particular so much as the album as a whole. I think from album to album my music has been evolving and Spare Parts really represents my current creative headspace.
You returned to Peterborough after living for a time in Toronto. What was the thing you missed most about Peterborough?
Campfires, fishing. I love Toronto so much but I found I had very little down time there, and even when I did there was so much going on in the city that I didn't want to miss out on anything. Sensory overload! Peterborough has a great music scene and a lot of events I would never want to miss out on living here, but it's smaller so it’s easier to manage my time. That ultimately allows me to focus on music and songwriting.
What are your goals for 2017?
This year is solely dedicated to promoting Spare Parts. I want to tour this album as much as possible. At the same time, one of my main goals is to get an agent on board so that I can tour more and play to bigger audiences. I would love to secure an opening slot on a national tour.