Canadian singer/songwriter Tim Chaisson comes from Prince Edward Island and has been immersed in music his whole life. From the time he decided this was what he wanted to do professionally, he has released 5 albums, won quite a few awards and even had the chance to perform during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
His latest release, “The Other Side” dropped last month and reflects his current stand as a musician, lyrically and sound-wise. He decided to tone it down and go back to his roots to bring this great folk album filled with fiddle, mandolin and sincerity. When he was in Montreal for a show a couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to discuss his progression as a musician, his album and more.
CONFRONT: To start this off, when did you realize music was what you wanted to pursue?
TIM: I would have to say that music was something that everyone in my family did, especially the Celtic music and it goes back 5 or 6 generations; everybody always played so it always got passed down. It was great! I come from a really big family so everybody played; my older brothers had a band and I started playing bass with them when I was a teenager. At the time, I was mostly a fiddle player and I kind of got into the music business through that. Then I started writing songs and I couldn’t stop so it kind of made sense to just keep doing it. And whenever you start touring or playing and making records, it gets addicting. I guess that’s when I realized it; when I started touring.
CONFRONT: Did you ever have a plan B?
TIM: I did go to university. I did 4 years at UPEI in psychology and history. But it’s funny because I had 3 classes left to finish and I had a chance to go on tour so I chose to go on tour. I still have 3 classes to finish my degree but I will finish eventually. I figured that traveling and playing music is more important right now because it’s ultimately what I want to do. I kind of thought of being a teacher; one of my brothers is a teacher. But playing music is a little more fun.
CONFRONT: That can always be your retirement plan!
TIM: Yeah true enough.
CONFRONT: You were very musically surrounded growing up; was your family really supportive when you decided to do this?
TIM: Yeah, they were. My dad was a musician but he was a mechanic by trade and my mother is a nurse but she didn’t really play music. A lot of my cousins played music and so did all my siblings and some of them toured for a bit as well so it wasn’t just something that came up one day. It was a gradual progression and before I knew it, I was a full-time musician! But everybody is super supportive at home because music was always encouraged.
CONFRONT: That’s cool! And you mentioned playing fiddle, were you trained or did you learn on your own?
TIM: The fiddle is almost like a tradition; my dad played and my uncle played and so did my grandfather so I learned from them and my older brothers and cousins. So it’s kind of learned within our family but I took a few lessons when I was young but it was more learning by ear and just jamming.
CONFRONT: I think that’s the best way to learn anyway.
TIM: Definitely. It comes from the heart when you’re not set on what someone else wants you to play.
CONFRONT: That’s true! Now, throughout your career, what are you most proud to have accomplished?
TIM: As of lately, I think I would say the record that I just put out. That’s probably my proudest accomplishment to date because I’m just really happy with how it came out. And then just the fact that we tour and play cities. Music is always a progression and I see myself having a long road ahead of me as well but to look back at some of the things I’ve done, it’s pretty neat!
CONFRONT: Yeah! You got to play the Olympics (winter 2010) right?
CONFRONT: And what do you want to have accomplished before the end of your career?
TIM: I would say more records. I’d like to get into producing a bit more too. I’ve written for other people as well and I want to do a little more of that too. But just keep on touring and
playing better shows. I’ve met lots of cool musicians over the years and just looking forward to meeting more.
CONFRONT: You mentioned producing; did you experience that with your latest album?
TIM: I had a producer for this record, his name is Collin Linden. But in a sense, we worked together and it was cool to see his ideas come into fruition but for the most part, we didn’t overdo the production. We all played the songs together as if we were playing live and we just pressed record. We didn’t go back and fixed too many things. We just liked whatever was natural and raw, which is the core in playing music. I do like producing and I’d like to do it more but with this last record, I used Collin because he has some ideas that I could never think of.
CONFRONT: Maybe one day! Speaking of your album, I read that you wanted to go back to your roots with this one. How important was that to you?
TIM: I think making a record that is honest is [important]. You see a lot of bands that try to be something that they’re not.
CONFRONT: Yeah they try to fit into what’s popular now.
TIM: Exactly! If they want to do that, it’s fine but sometimes, it will only last a certain amount of time. If that’s not you and that’s not what you want to do in your heart, it can just come and go. Because I grew up playing Celtic music and fiddle music, I shied away from that in the past but this time, I play a lot of fiddle and a lot of mandolin and guitar; just keeping it a little more simple. My last record was a little more on the rock side and although I do enjoy rock music, I’m always a folk kind of guy and just more so the singer/songwriter aspect.
CONFRONT: And are you the one behind all the instruments in your record, since you can play all those instruments?
TIM: With this album, I played mandolin, fiddle and guitar. Collin played electric guitar and some acoustic as well. Then I had a drummer and a bass player and a keyboard player from Toronto on the record. And they are guys that are so good at what they do; it was an absolute pleasure playing with them. They brought my songs to life.
CONFRONT: Awesome! You also said that this time around, you guys all played together and just hit record, was that very different from your previous recording process?
TIM: Last time, we kind of tracked everything separately, which is normal in recording studios. With this one, it was neat because I just sang and we played at the same time. We didn’t follow any click tracks to keep us on time; it was really us playing as if we were playing live. I feel like there’s a raw energy that you kind of capture.
CONFRONT: I listened to your album and I think it creates a really genuine sound.
TIM: Thank you very much! That’s what we were going for.
CONFRONT: And which track do you think represents the album the best?
TIM: Well the first single is called ‘Beat This Heart’ and I think it accurately represents what the rest of it is. It’s kind of acoustic guitar and singing in the forefront and some mandolin, some electric guitar. It’s a song that can hopefully catch an ear. A lot of the songs are relationship-based because it’s what I know best at this point in my life. Another good one would be ‘Bail You Out’ because it’s kind of similar and I really liked on the record.
CONFRONT: And which is your favorite track?
TIM: I would think that ‘Come Clean’ is probably one of my favorite songs just because it’s one of the ones that I was most proud of lyrically and melodically.
CONFRONT: Now, I’m going to ask you to draw something that represents you.
TIM: I’m not much of a draw-er but I’ll try. This is going to be terrible. Everybody tells me I’m skinny so I drew a little stickman playing music.
CONFRONT: Awesome! Thank you!
You can also check out his contribution to the CONFRONT Playlist here!
To learn more about him and to check out his music, here are a few links:
Official site : http://www.timchaisson.com/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/timchaisson