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Ottawafocus.com Spotlight
Spotlight on... Andrew Vincent
By Ren Tomovcik

Andrew Vincent
Andrew Vincent’s 2009 tour in support of his fifth album has taken him all around Ontario and Quebec –  but coming back to Ottawa always feels like coming home.  The singer-songwriter, transplanted to Toronto after nearly a decade of musical escapades in the capital, chats with us about inspiration, Ottawa, and his latest album Rotten Pear.

Andrew VincentWhen Andrew Vincent first moved to Ottawa from Waterloo, he considered music as a simple hobby.  It was a low-key way to unwind, express himself creatively, and connect with friends.  He enjoyed playing open mic nights and small venues around town, meeting new people, and sharing ideas.  But little did Vincent know that his hobby would eventually grow into a musical journey that spanned five albums, several tours, and a lot of personal growth. 

Vincent found himself uplifted and nurtured by life in the capital city, and after arriving in Ottawa as a solo performer, he delved into a period of enthusiastic collaboration.  In Ottawa, he recorded with a backing band - The Pirates (Bryan Curry, Scott Terry) - for several years.

Inspired by the creative minds that surrounded him, he befriended other musicians like Jon Bartlett, Andy Swan and The Acorn’s Rolf Klausener, and continued to write and play music of his own.  Vincent’s talent for songwriting did not go unnoticed, and his music soon garnered a devoted following in Ottawa and beyond. 

Following the 2004 release of his fourth record, I Love The Modern Way (with the Pirates), Vincent focused on his cross-Canadian tour and live shows.  Writing new music moved to the back burner.  But the desire to create new material didn’t stay away for long, and by 2005 he was already crafting some of the music that would eventually appear on Rotten Pear

After a five-year recording hiatus, Vincent finally found himself ready to return to the studio last year – this time minus the Pirates. Working alone on a new album after parting creative company with the band was a different experience, but not an entirely alien one.  After all, Vincent performed alone in the beginning, and in many ways Rotten Pear represents to him the completion of a full circle.  With the collaboration of acclaimed producer Jarrett Bartlett, Vincent recorded most of Rotten Pear at his own house – a fitting venue for the laying down of tracks that all feel deeply personal. 

The album’s narrative covers the years from 2005 to 2008, and while his music is not entirely autobiographical, Vincent’s stories and characters are all drawn from his life experiences. As a youth, Vincent dreamed of becoming a writer, and he has definitely fulfilled his calling - his outstanding gift for storytelling is once again evident on Rotten Pear.  Vincent’s return packs an emotional punch and unveils a depth and maturity that surpasses his previous work.  In a departure from the more rock’n’roll sound he produced with the Pirates, this new solo work is much more reserved - quieter, thoughtful and often introspective.  

Rotten Pear puts Vincent’s vocals in the spotlight, backed mostly by soft acoustics with a dash of synth.  The stripped-down sound is appropriate accompaniment for the album’s raw and honest themes. The characters and situations in Rotten Pear are a little darker than the norm for Vincent, and the album dips into melancholy topics from destructive drug use and romantic failures to loneliness and loss.   But ultimately, Vincent says, Rotten Pear is a hopeful record.  The album is about growing up, growing older, and experiencing a change in perspective. 

Andrew Vincent Show
Andrew Vincent plays a show at the Black Sheep Inn, 2008.  [Photo: Mike Polowick]

On the subject of perspective, Vincent is intrigued and encouraged by the evolution of the Canadian music  industry as a whole since his early days as a musician.  As a student of Communication and Culture, he has written with interest about Canadian music, and is attentive to the developments that have taken place in recent years.  In the last decade, he observes, Canadian indie music has gotten much more cross-country recognition, with individual artists and labels eager to support and promote each other and connect across distances.  With online initiatives like CBC Radio 3, i(heart)music, and a plethora of independent Canadian music blogs springing up all over the Internet, music lovers don’t have to look far to find great music, and Canadian musicians are surrounded by positive feedback and support.

But while Vincent has seen and felt this support for his own work all over the country, nowhere is it stronger than in the city he considers his adopted hometown.  Although he is not a native of Ottawa, he lived in the capital for nearly a decade and he clearly considers Ottawa his home.  It’s where his musical endeavours came to fruition, and the city’s influences are still ever-present in his music, with mentions of Ottawa locales sprinkled throughout his lyrics. 

Vincent has relocated to Toronto to pursue his graduate studies, but while he has boldly taken the new city on as an adventure, Ottawa is still where Vincent's heart lies.  He speaks fondly of the city with familial affection, and looks forward to each chance he has to return.

“Ottawa has a vibe - it feels like home, comfortable and friendly. 
In Ottawa, music isn’t a scene, it’s a community. 
And when I’m back here, I feel a part of it.”

As for what the future will bring, Vincent is content to let life lead him.  He is still hard at work on his PhD in Communication and Culture at York University, and his path could lead him anywhere from policy research to teaching – or somewhere else entirely.  But music - and Ottawa - will always remain an important part of his life. 

We look forward to Andrew Vincent's homecoming as eagerly as he does.



Andrew Vincent - Rotten Pear more from andrew vincent

See Andrew Vincent live at Kaffe 1870  (Wakefield, QC)
Saturday, April 4th 2009 @ 9:00 pm
w/ Jon Bartlett (drums) and Mike Dubue (bass/keyboard)
Also featuring Flecton Big Sky

Check out more of Andrew's work here:
Discography & Downloads @ Kelp Records
Andrew Vincent on MySpace
Preview /buy Rotten Pear online @ Zunior.com

have a listen!

 

Andrew Vincent  - Going Out Tonight (from Rotten Pear )


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