NINETIES MUSICIAN COMING BACK INTO A SOCIAL MEDIA OBSESSED MUSIC WORLD
Story by Alexa Tomaszewski
Photo by Vanessa Heins
After parting with Universal Music the singer-songwriter set up shop “literally in my house, on my top floor, which is insanely hot right now,” says McNarland in an exclusive interview with Plaid Magazine.
With no shackles to the music industry, Run Body Run is the result of over a year’s hard work in and out of the studio.
“I really like being able to connect with fans. I know what they want and I understand them more and they get to know me a little bit more,” says McNarland. “I’ve said this before, I hope I don’t burn it out, but if people feel close to music they will buy it. I think we’ve been missing that connection for a long time.”
McNarland says this is as an opportunity to grow closer to fans by going directly to them for support through social media. At the same time however, she admits to being apprehensive about whether the fans were still out there after so many years. “It was kind of scary especially after I put a song up on Soundcloud…it was a little bit nerve racking throwing myself out there, seeing if anyone is interested.”
Social media marks an important time for the artist today. “We don’t need a middle-man,” says McNarland about creating this album independently. “That’s what I love about it, that’s what my fans love about it, that there’s no body in between us anymore. This is me and they know it’s me.”
McNarland moved to Toronto with her family and it was through her son’s alternative school she met fellow musician Gord Tough of Weeping Tile, a band started by Sarah Harmer (who Gord still plays with occasionally).
“I asked Gord to do it and he got on board. He got Cam (the drummer) who I met at Weeping Tile years ago,” says McNarland. “So, we just put it together. Add my boyfriend/partner/husband guy and it was wild, just so easy.”
Run Body Run took about five years to compose and the songs bridge the gap between country and rock. The opening track “Alone’s Just Fine” soothes the listener into the mood of the album. The following track “Only Money” highlights McNarland’s more edgy vocal style. “You’ll Forget About Me”, a beautiful track, opens with the simple sound of a guitar, and then introduces McNarland’s voice, marked by the pain of loosing a lover.
This album is paired down to drums, bass, guitar and McNarland’s powerful voice.
“It’s the first album that I’ve made where it’s stripped down,” says McNarland. “I’m really proud of this record. I love the players and I love the production.”
McNarland credits much of this feel to Run Body Run producer Chris Singer.
“It’s just bare bones and he didn’t try to take the country out of me, which I think all of the other producers geared towards more rock,” says McNarland “I grew up singing country. I didn’t learn how to sing rock and roll because that’s not what my mom listened to when she was learning to play guitar.”
McNarland says country music is part of her roots and deeply ingrained in her Winnipeg, Manitoba upbringing. Tracks like “After I’m Gone” and “Window Pane” are notably country-esque in both lyrics and structure.
Inspired by her daughter, the album’s title track “Run Body Run” is the most care free, not unlike the spirit of a three year old itself. Essentially, McNarland wrote down everything her daughter said in a day and transformed it into a beautiful ballad about believing anything is possible when you’re a child.
To McNarland, being a mother of two is incredibly inspiring. She can’t believe her son just turned thirteen.
“Having kids really sort of throws you into this thing where you can’t write whenever you feel like it,” says McNarland. “So, when you do write, when I get to play music, when I get to sit down with my guitar and when someone isn’t asking me for a peanut butter sandwich it’s really cool.”
She describes the time she does get to compose music as very special and since becoming a mom/musician she’s had to learn to maximize whatever time she does get to spend with her music. Of Course, motherhood has in some ways changed how McNarland practices.
“It’s so much fun, but touring is so difficult these days.” says McNarland. “When you have a family it changes. When I was 20 I would get into a van with a bunch of guys and just schlep it in the middle of winter.”
McNarland laughs and says now she avoids any situation possible involving trucking her children across town. “They fight all the time,” says McNarland jokingly.
Today’s music industry is a brave new world and McNarland found the perfect niche to nurture her creative spirit and still give fans what they want.