Mu­si­cal voice mails the an­swer to solo ef­fort

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jen Zoratti

BREN­DAN Can­ning says he never fan­cied him­self a solo artist for one sim­ple rea­son: “I like bands.” In­deed, the Bro­ken So­cial Scene cofounder has spent most of his 20-year ca­reer in indie-rock groups, in­clud­ing such Toronto mu­sic scene lu­mi­nar­ies as By Di­vine Right, Blur­to­nia, Len and hHead. Th­ese days, though, he’s pro­mot­ing an Oc­to­ber al­bum re­lease that bears just his name on the cover. You Gots 2 Chill, Can­ning’s sec­ond solo ef­fort, was recorded with Ohad Benchetrit (Do Make Say Think) and singer/song­writer Steve Singh and re­veals a more in­ti­mate, pri­vate side. For an al­bum about mel­low­ing out and un­plug­ging, it’s fit­ting Can­ning did the same. “This was the first time I had the chance to make a record around the acous­tic gui­tar,” he says on the phone from Sar­nia, Ont. “So much of my time spent at noodling around on the gui­tar on the front steps or on the couch be­side my dog. Then you put it on the an­swer­ing ma­chine to re­mem­ber it. Af­ter 15 years or so, there’s a cat­a­logue of ideas.” Can­ning has been demo­ing songs on his an­swer­ing ma­chine for most of his ca­reer, call­ing his home line to record them. (He’s not a to­tal Lud­dite, though; he uses the voice memo app on his smart­phone now, too.) Two of the al­bum’s tracks, the aptly ti­tled Long Live Land Lines and Once a Light­house, were recorded on voice­mail. “I wanted to in­clude that part of the tapped to work on the orig­i­nal mu­sic for Scott Pil­grim vs. The World, the Edgar Wright-di­rected adap­ta­tion of the hit Toronto-cen­tric graphic novel se­ries by Bryan Lee O’Mal­ley. Can­ning says the process of writ­ing scores varies movie to movie. “With The Canyons, I just had a script to start with. I read it and ba­si­cally said, ‘This is what I’m hear­ing for your movie.’ They knew Bro­ken So­cial Scene, so they trusted me when I would say things like, ‘It’s go­ing to be a Depeche Mode kind of western thing.’” Other films, such as Scott Pil­grim vs. The World, came with more spe­cific pa­ram­e­ters. “We had to write all th­ese four­sec­ond songs as Crash and the Boys.” Can­ning also just com­pleted a score for an in­ter­ac­tive video game/film project that in­volves di­rec­tor David Cro­nen­berg sell­ing his in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty to a biotech lab. You Gots 2 Chill had him us­ing his cre­ativ­ity in new ways, as well. He even drew the cover art. “There were all th­ese new things that, while I was in Bro­ken So­cial Scene, I didn’t have the men­tal ca­pac­ity for,” he says. “When I re­leased (2008’s solo al­bum) Some­thing for All of Us, peo­ple were like, ‘Why didn’t you make a dif­fer­ent sound­ing record?’ I just didn’t have the men­tal space. Some­times you need si­lence.”

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Chill­ing out: Bren­dan Can­ning un­plugs on his sopho­more solo al­bum.

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