by Broose Tulloch
After more than a decade in the roots scene, Romi Mayes is retiring, “sort of.” Through a series of social media posts, Mayes announced that she was tired of the grind and wanted a change, a big one. Some soul searching later, a plan was hatched; to move from music performance into management and from cold Winnipeg to warm Vancouver Island. Stylus spoke with the roots rocker about the big shakeup.
Stylus: Why are leaving Winnipeg for Vancouver Island?
Romi Mayes: The weather is a big portion of the need to move. I don’t think I have it in me to do another winter. Some people are made for this. I just can’t imagine another winter like this.It just ain’t for me!
At one point for me, the love of touring was surpassed by the love of staying home. My daughter is almost 13 now and she has been a champ through all of my years of traveling and having to be away, and she knew it was my job. It has definitely come to the point for me, where it is me who doesn’t want to be away from her anymore. In a handful of years she will be 18 and I don’t want to miss another second. I got lucky with my daughter. We are closer than any mother and daughter can be. I know she would be cool with me still hitting the road when I have to, but it’s me that wants to stay. My daughter’s father and his family live on Vancouver Island as well. I think since we were moving, it made the most sense to move closer to my daughter’s family for her.
Stylus: You dropped another bombshell on social media; that you would be going on a musical hiatus.
RM: I watched my career excel over a decade with promise and excitement. I took on the bulk of all the work that makes you get anywhere as a writer and performer. I have always been self-managed and did all of my own bookings and much of my own promotions throughout the heart of my career. We toured four or five times a year to Europe, US and Canada, and each time I had to buckle up and work incessantly to get things organized. As time passed, less people were coming out, and less merchandise was getting sold. This is all in tow with rising gas prices, digital technology, and the economic situation of all music lovers everywhere. It is possible to still make a few bucks and a few fans, but after all the successful tours we had and our present ages and energy levels, it just seemed to be more work than it was worth.
Stylus: “Semi-retirement” is an interesting description of your career change.
RM: Semi-retirement is funny to hear in your late 30s, I guess. I am a songwriter and a performer. These things I couldn’t change if I tried. I don’t know what I thought would happen in music when I was younger and was shooting for the stars, but I did find a contentment in just getting by and touring. That satisfaction is gone and though I enjoy getting on stage and performing, I don’t want to force myself to do it all the time and every night for weeks at a time. I have lost the desire to do that. I will likely play here and there and do some festivals here and there, and I suspect I will do some shows on the West Coast and hopefully still write an album this year, but this very much feels like a retirement of sorts.
Stylus: You’ll still be working the music industry, though.
RM: Hoping to get on with a booking agency, it hit me like a lightning bolt and a brick wall at the same time. Start your own booking agency! After that, everything fell into place so quickly, and I’m already avidly booking a couple handful of spring and summer tours for some of the artists. I called it Sure Shot after my favourite Beastie Boys song.
Stylus: There was some concern that you had become disillusioned with the scene here.
RM: I am definitely not “fed up” with Winnipeg at all. I love Winnipeg. There isn’t one bad thing I can say about Winnipeg’s scene. In my opinion, it is the best across Canada and the reason I did anything in my career thus far. The calibre of talent in Winnipeg pushes you to be your best and the near family-like camaraderie is incomparable and encourages you to excel with confidence in all you do.
Stylus: A few final words on what lays ahead?
RM: In tow with this exciting new endeavour is my fulfilled desire to stay home and relax, country living style. Maybe get a dog. Stay in sweat pants a lot. You know, live the dream.
Before she rides off into the sunset, Mayes has plans for a big birthday show at The Pyramid Cabaret on Friday, April 19, and will also be appearing at the Morden Corn & Apple, Trout Lake Music, and BBQ & Blues Festivals in August.