By James Keller
While Christine Fellows’ style of music is by no means mainstream, she’s quite comfortable in her own, independent space–complete with a piano and violinist on the side.
"I want to stay independent," says Fellows, whose latest disc, The Last One Standing, was recently released by Six Shooter Records. "It’s just keeping a little more control."
This control gave her new album a soft spoken, gentle sound led by both violin and piano accompaniment, while her mellifluous voice blended right in.
There’s also something to be said when you’re included in the same rank of musicians like The Weakerthans and Royal City–certainly pleasant company when examining the Canadian music landscape.
"I’m really happy with the independent scene in Canada right now," she says. "There’s fantastic music that comes out of this country and it some of it is very challenging."
Fellows acknowledges that, while there are perks that come with being an indie artist, it creates a lot more work.
"You have to tour like crazy," she says. "It’s sure nice to be back at home, being able to do your laundry when you want to."
Touring, she’s done, both solo and with a violinist–like her ongoing tour bringing her to Calgary with a full band. And while the solo, bare-bones approach creates a sense of intimacy, she prefers the accompaniment–even though increased casts get in the way.
"It’s a financial decision," admits Fellows. "I’d love to have a 20-piece band behind me. The less people doing your thing, the harder it is to get it across."
Personally, the Winnipeg native puts a lot of herself into her music, both musically and lyrically.
"With this record, I made an effort to actually tell a story or be more overt about what I’m writing about, but I left it open so people can interpret it on their own," she explains. "Those are the really great conversations about music because it means something totally different to me."
And while she values this dialogue between herself and audiences, sometimes people just miss the mark with their interpretations–not necessarily a bad thing.
"I used to play in this band Helen and this well known drug dealer came up to me after the show and said, ‘that one song you were talking about smuggling a bunch of keys of heroin from Bangkok when you were 15, did you really do that?’" laughs Fellows. "I was thinking, ‘what the hell is this guy talking about?’ I figured it out and it was a song about losing my keys."
Regardless of exactly how people are connected with her lyrics, they are connecting. Her new album is being received well even outside of Manitoba–and she’s not changing anytime soon.
"It’s just the way I write," says Fellows. "I’m sure if I could write big million dollar pop-songs, I would write that. I love a good pop song, but it’s just not the way that I come at the whole writing process."