In Conversation with INGRID GATIN

ingrid gatin
by Broose Tulloch

It’s been two years since her last album, but Ingrid Gatin is back with 11 songs and 1,000 Lives.  1,000 Lives, the title of her second full-length disc, was recorded in a Winnipeg loft and church, and in Grammy-nominated producer Howard Bilerman’s (Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat, the Dears) Montréal studio.

Gatin’s instrument of choice is the much-maligned and oft-mocked accordion.

“I started playing the accordion because I wanted an instrument I could busk with. I also really liked the sound of the accordion in French music; a few of my favourite indie bands have one and I thought I could make beautiful and interesting sounds with it.”

Speaking on how 1,000 Lives came to be the title of both the song and the album, Ingrid explains “A friend’s mother in P.E.I. was in the audience and she told me that once I found the name for that song, it would be the name of my album. I decided to call the song “1000 Lives,” and it made so much sense for the album too, as it’s about the different lives that all of our lives contain, all the people we used to be and are becoming.”

Born in small-town Saskatchewan and raised in Brandon, Ingrid remembers her youth fondly.

“I grew up in Whitewood, Saskatchewan. I loved being in a small town in the middle of the prairies. My parents are nature enthusiasts and I had a bit of an idyllic childhood, with no television and lots of trees. We moved to Brandon for junior high and high school. Great place to do that. A small city, but I could do all the things I wanted to do like act in plays, take dance lessons, vocal lessons, the school rock band. I was always playing music and acting.”

After high school she moved to Winnipeg, joining bluegrass renegades The Magnificent 7s in 2007.

“That band gained a lot of local popularity, and really helped me step into the Winnipeg music scene when I started playing solo gigs. Then after I did my first solo tour in the spring of 2009,  I got a grant from Manitoba Film and Music to record a solo album, and started touring Canada like crazy.”

Though based in the big city, composing reconnects Ingrid with her country roots.

“When I’ve spent time writing in a cabin in the woods or living in small towns, I want to stay forever. I think being from the prairies and growing up on farms will always be in my music.  My family and people around me are very important to me, so I end up writing a lot about my interactions and discoveries in the people in my life, no matter which city I’m in. Of course modern technology makes communication easy, so I can keep the connection to my past and to important people.”

Speaking of important people, tell us about some of the local musicians in your life.

“Well, I have toured with Demetra Penner because I love her music; and for some reason, I never caught a live JP Hoe show until this past year when we were both showcasing at the Folk Alliance in Memphis. I was so pleased to discover him, and now I get his songs stuck in my head. Not to mention my ex-band, The Magnificent 7s, who I’m still on good terms with. They are tighter than ever and all of them are so talented. There are so many amazing bands in Winnipeg.”

After the official launch on February 5th, Gatin begins touring eastward to the coast, which is not far from home in some ways.

“I am really excited for that, as I have spent quite a lot of time in that neck of the woods, and it reminds me a lot of the prairies with its love of music.”

Montréal’s Twin Voices will be opening for Gatin on the eastern leg of the tour, which hits Toronto at the end of February for the Folk Alliance.  Then it’s a western tour in March and April, before a jet-setting summer.

“I plan to be based out of Winnipeg again for the spring and summer… between touring Europe and playing summer festivals, of course. I’ve been invited to play a music festival in Wales, so I’ll be touring Wales, Germany, and the UK, and hopefully visiting both France and Norway, where I still have family.”

“I have to say how excited I am about releasing this album,” she continues. “I’ve put a lot of work and love into this, it’s been my whole life between touring over the past year, and now I can’t wait to share it with the world.”

So, how does the life Gatin lives and the life she records fit together?

“Life is crazy,” she admits. “I have a million wild and wonderful tales and they are only growing in number. People are so beautiful and so strange, and it is just a pleasure to get to experience happiness and heartache in my own life and through the eyes of friends and lovers. I think that is really what this album is about, stories of experiencing the world in different lights, in all kinds of different places. The world just keeps on spinning, and it never stops providing experiences for us to grow from.”

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