Photo: Shervin Lainez
Photo: Shervin Lainez

Five Questions With… Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman

The idea behind the new self-titled album by The Weather Station, the fourth release by the project helmed by Toronto singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman (out now on Outside Music), was to make a rock and roll record. However, by her own estimation, it came out nothing like rock and roll at all, apart from its energy and confidence.

For this latest outing as The Weather Station, Lindeman took full control for the first time, producing it herself and expanding the sound from the economic folk-rock she has been known for until now. On the new record, Lindeman’s songs play out like a finely crafted short story collection, with her daring new sonic directions augmenting the understated feminist politics inherent in the lyrics.

The Weather Station builds on the acclaim of the 2015 album Loyalty, recorded at La Frette Studios in France with Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz (Feist). Long-listed for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize, that album earned international praise and allowedLindeman and her band to tour extensively in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan, both as a headliner and as support for artists such as The War on Drugs, The Mountain Goats and Damien Jurado.

The Weather Station is currently on tour in Europe, and will return to Canada in November for dates in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and the east coast. For a full schedule, go to theweatherstation.net

What makes this album stand apart from your previous work? 

Everything. It’s stronger and more fearless and is more clear and explicit in expressing itself than anything I’ve done before. 

How will your approach to playing live evolve with this record?

It’s a whole new thing. The band is louder and stronger, although still really dynamic. We’re going to power and strength, rather than subtlety and beauty. I have a new lead guitarist and keyboard player who are amazing.

What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?

There are many!  I always sang—growing up in the country, singing was something I did as I walked in the woods, to keep myself company. It always made me happy and calmed me down. I also remember the first time I heard a live un-amplified orchestra. It was just a small town Christmas recital, but I just about lost my mind, it sounded so beautiful. 

I also remember playing my dad’s guitar. It was in its case, on the floor in his office. I didn’t know how you were supposed to play it, so I just played it laying down in its case, strumming and fretting from above, like a dulcimer. I never had any rhyme or reason in what I was doing; I just liked making it make sounds.

What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?

It’s tricky to choose one, but I always think that “Traveller” [from 2011’s All Of It Was Mine] is my most perfect song—as in it’s the only song I ever wrote that I can’t find fault with. That doesn’t mean it’s the best, just the sturdiest in some ways.

If you could fix anything about the music business, what would it be?

Great question, here’s my pitch:  Assign a price to a stream, let’s say one cent. If you stream a song, that artist or rights holder gets one cent. No exceptions. Spotify could charge a percentage on top for admin fees, or even charge a certain amount per month for admin, but from there, you pay for the music you listen to, and we get paid for you listening. One cent is a pitifully small amount, but it still would constitute a major raise over what we’re getting now. It would mean that streaming could bring in real money for artists such as myself. And it would be transparent and accountable; there would be less wiggle room for secret deals with major labels and label trickery in general. Spotify already counts how many times our songs have been streamed, it’s just that it has no relation to the money we are actually paid. By starting with one cent, it could be clear and democratic, and that price could rise as things get more streamlined over time. Of course, that’s all on top of the fact that one cent is still a paltry amount to pay for listening to a song. 

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