Photo: Rachel Pick
Photo: Rachel Pick

Five Questions With… Lauren Mann

On her latest album Memory & Desire, Lauren Mann presents her most honest and vulnerable collection of songs to date. It follows her 2016 album Dearestly and chronicles the ensuing period that found Mann rediscovering herself after her marriage ended, and all of the anxiety and uncertainty that came with it.

Aided by producer and long-time collaborator Josh Rob Gwilliam, former Calgary resident Mann also drew a lot of inspiration from her current home on British Columbia’s idyllic Gulf Islands, the perfect backdrop for exploring new musical directions. At the same time, she became heavily involved in her local arts community, leading songwriting

workshops, and helping to launch programs in visual arts, filmmaking, music and dance through her role as the Creative Director of Ptarmigan Arts, a local non-profit.

It all helped Mann recapture her creative spirit, which much of Canada first became familiar with in 2014 when her former band Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk won CBC Music’s Searchlight competition. Now, with Memory & Desire, Mann has produced a moving time capsule of how far she has come since then, while simultaneously offering a universal narrative of the human condition.

Memory & Desire is available on all digital platforms and on vinyl and CD through laurenmannmusic.com.

What makes Memory & Desire stand apart from your past work?

To me, Memory & Desire feels like the most honest music I’ve ever made. When I was writing the songs I wasn’t thinking at all about the end product so I was very much in the moment, digging deep into myself and the result feels very authentic to who I am. Musically, it’s much more acoustic-based than my previous albums and that has been a fun new direction to explore.

Which songs on the record have particularly special meaning for you?

I think the opening track, There Is A Sound, is particularly special. It was the last song I wrote for the album and it feels like an anthem that captures the essence of everything the album is about; a thesis of sorts. I had help finishing it from my now fiancee, and it was really special to get to share that process with him.

What role does your home on the Gulf Islands play in your creative process? 

I’ve always found the west coast, and particularly the Gulf Islands to be very inspiring with the closeness to nature and the creative community. My home played a particularly important role in the creation of this album, as we recorded it in my home studio with my producer, Josh. It was the most relaxing recording process I’ve ever experienced and I think that is captured in the songs and the sound of the album.

How have you been adapting to engaging with your audience during the pandemic?

It has definitely been an interesting time to release music. I was able to play a few in-person shows this summer and fall, and it was really wonderful to share songs and moments with an attentive audience, especially when there is a lack of in-person connectedness these days. I recently also did a live-streamed concert from my living room which was a great way to connect with listeners who weren’t local. I’d like to do more of that this winter.

What are your hopes about playing live again in the coming year?

I am hopeful that live shows will be possible again soon, even if just for smaller audiences. I’ve always loved playing house concerts which are more intimate and give the performer a chance to really connect with the audience, so it would be great to see that model built upon. The challenges we face right now with performing are difficult but I think it’s a great opportunity to think outside the box, collaborate in different ways and find new opportunities that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

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