By Chris Bryson
Slow Dancers recently returned to Winnipeg to release their newest mini album, Philadelphus. The new album returns to Slow Dancers’ expansively emotive folk – slow and dreamy, sparse and serene, vocals atop a whisper, with stories to make the mind wander.
Jesse Hill, songwriter for Slow Dancers, is joined in the band with Marie-France Hollier and Cole Woods.
Hill’s love for poetry extends beyond academia and literature and into his worlds of music. He moved from Winnipeg to Toronto for grad school in Latin poetry and although he’s had some personal qualms along the way, his return to music hits a mark for something more.
“The first couple years of my program were super demanding and I basically didn’t do anything but work in the library. But I was pretty unhappy, so it’s really been like, part of doing music again has been like I’ve been wanting to have a more balanced life,” explains Hill. “So I’d really like going forward for the rest of my Ph.D. to be able to both do the academic stuff and also create music.”
There’s an importance placed on lyrics in Slow Dancers songs. “I’ve been a reader of poetry since my adolescence. And the more I’ve done that the more importance I’ve placed in lyrics in other people’s music and thus I’ve found myself putting more and more focus on it as I’ve grown up,” says Hill. “You know it’s not something that music needs. There’s lots of good music that doesn’t have much depth lyrically. I think it’s like the relationship between music and poetry can be exploited more often than it is, and so yeah I think there’s lots to be done there.”
Slow Dancers took a different route recording this time around, opting for lo-fi out of convenience and a desire to get the songs out.
“The last album we recorded it in a really fancy professional studio and then it took forever to release because we sort of ran out of money,” explains Hill. “But for this one we mostly recorded it ourselves to 4-track cassette machines so it’s lo-fi and quick and relaxing and then we had our friend Joel help us with the mix and record the vocals.”
“It’s a three-month versus a four year (recording) process for this release,” says Hill. “I like lots of albums that are recorded (in lo-fi) like that. It’s not something I demand of music. It was really just This is what we have, We know how to do this. So it was a mixture of both convenience and desirability in itself.”
In discussing some of his artistic developments over the years and influences that have affected his work outside of music and literature, Hill says that “I used to sort of have my exclusive subject be love, when I was younger. But now more and more as I’ve grown older I’ve sort of sought more diverse subjects.” Hill says that he finds inspiration in memories and the world around him, in family and experiences.
In discussing the importance of making an album that’s cohesive, Hill says that he really values “the whole cohesive album. And that’s certainly something that I think a lot about. I’m very conscious that these four songs (on Philadelphus) worked well together,” explains Hill. “It’s just one good way of putting music out into the world. You don’t necessarily need your album to be totally cohesive to make an exacting statement. But for the kind of art I like to consume I like really thoroughly thought through works of art. So that’s what I kind of aim to do.”
Hill says that he hopes to do a weekend tour in Toronto and Montreal sometime this fall, and says Slow Dancers will probably play another show around Christmas time in Winnipeg.
With playing their most recent show since 2014, Hill says he also has some songs well in the works, enough for a new album, and hopes to record them sometime in the not so distant future.