We’re pleased to bring you this exclusive interview with one of Canada’s favorite soul and blues musicians, Grant Lyle.
Grant has many years of experience as an artist and it shows throughout his seven-album catalog with his care and dedication to his efforts. We had the chance to speak with him a bit about his musical background, his newest album, and the changes he’s experienced over time as a musician. Read through the jump and get acquainted with blues veteran, Grant Lyle.
How long have you been a musician, Grant? What first inspired you to get involved with music and how did you get your start?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was seven years old. I was asking for one for at least two years before that. Music was everywhere in my house. My brother is a drummer and we both immediately started playing everywhere and anywhere we could.
Do you think that being born just a month before Woodstock had any coincidental, destiny-like influence on your musical evolution?
Absolutely not. My parents were a couple years too old to be hippies. That being said, the music of Woodstock was in the house along with the other music that I was hearing.
What do you think you’d be doing today had you never picked up an instrument?
That is a difficult question. I have never given it much thought.
You have seven albums under your belt. Is So There your best effort to date?
In a lot of ways So There is my favorite record. The reason being, I felt I was able to express ideas on this record that I was incapable of previously. That being said, it was a different recording process. One that allowed me the luxury of time. However, each of my previous recordings I thought did a pretty good job of capturing where the music was at the moment.
What do you feel you put into this record that differs from your previous works?
On this recording I included many more of my own songs. Previously I felt safer tempering my own material with healthy doses of cover songs.
Can you explain to me what the album title was inspired by and what themes are prevalent throughout the lyrics and sound?
The album title is just a play on words and rolls off your tongue. Hopefully the themes and sound represent a form of healing. It is my intention to create empathy with the listener. This can be achieved most easily through music. The lyrics… well, I will say that I am in my early stages of lyric writing. I generally write about things that everyone can relate to and sometimes I find it difficult to be specific. Generally like the Blues, the lyrics are about one person’s state of mind.
Throughout the history of classic rock and soul, countless songs (and their titles) have been written, inspired by specific women in musician’s lives. Who is Chéri Ann and why did you feel she was worth writing a song about?
Yes, there really is a Cheri Ann but she was not the inspiration for the song. I just thought she had the loveliest name. The song is really just about missing people that are gone from your life.
In the span of your seven album career, how would you say you’ve changed as a musician and as a person in general?
It is difficult for me to look at that subjectively. I’m on the same path I have always been on, just a little further on down. I am always however, trying to expand my vocabulary as a musician. With a greater vocabulary you can communicate more effectively.
It’s been almost a year now since So There was released. What have you been working on in the meantime?
The group is focusing on the summer touring. I have been writing and demoing tracks for the next album.
How would you say that technological advances throughout the span of your career have changed the way you approach recording and such? Have these changes been of help to you or do you think they just complicate matters?
Technology has changed everything about the recording process and the way music is listened to and distributed. I do still use a guitar and amplifier that are based on 40 or 50 year old models. I like to think that a piece of equipment is good until it’s not good. I think the advantage of today is that we have access to many years of equipment research and testing. We are in a place where we have more options than ever.
Do you feel that in this day and age it’s harder to appeal to the masses with a classic rock and roll sound or are you pleased with how things have gone for you?
I have a difficult time labeling or categorizing my music especially now that genres are so fractured. I don’t really draw my inspiration from classic rock and roll (as you say). The things that I am trying to achieve are sort of beyond genre. The music which most closely echos my own sentiments is blues and gospel music… music of spirit.
Over the years, what has been the biggest obstacle for you as a musician?
Myself! Sometimes music places demands on you and you can choose to follow them or not. If you choose to put your music on the line you leave yourself very open, so naturally we become our own critic and defender.
And lastly, what has been the biggest blessing of your career thus far?
This is going to sound strange but some of the people that you meet and work with in music are some of the greatest human beings that you will ever meet. When music crosses boundaries, borders and differences, truly amazing things can happen.
Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter
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