By Keith Sharp
The later part of 2015 might have been dominated by Canadian guys with Weeknd, Drake, Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes ensconsed at the top of the Billboard charts. But there was a time not too long ago when it was Canadian women who dominated the North Amercan music scene.
Celine Dion and Shania Twain aside, Sarah McLachlan ran her Lilith Fair and the likes of Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne and Nelly Furtado were all prominent in the U.S charts. And then there was Winnipeg’s Chantal Kreviazuk.
Having burst onto the scene in 1998 with a double-platinum selling record, `Under These Rocks And Stones’, fuelled by a major hit single “Surrounded”, Kreviazuk then made her mark, internationally when her cover of John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane” was featured on the top-selling soundtrack for the hit movie `Armageddon”.
This led to further recording success; her 2000 `Colour Falling Still’ album (co-written with new husband, Our Lady Peace lead vocalist Raine Maida) which produced a monster single with “Before You” and two Juno Awards (Female Vocalist of The Year, Top Adult/Pop Album).
Yet even though Kreviazuk’s, contemporary writing prowess and polished piano-accompanied arrangements also fueled three more studio releases,` What If It All Means Nothing (in 2002),`Ghost Stories’ (in 2006) and `Plain Jane’ ( in 2009), the celebrity culture which enveloped the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift was beyond Kreviazuk’s comfort zone. So she made a decision to bail out of the spotlight to concentrate on raising her three children with Maida in Los Angeles while continuing to write and co-write songs for other performers and for movie and television soundtracks.
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“At one point, I felt everyone was on a stripper’s pole, EDM/Dance was in, which wasn’t my scene, everything was very provocative and sexual and I have no interest in being a porn star, I felt I just didn’t fit in,” notes Kreviazuk, conducting the phone interview from a parked van in her parent’s Winnipeg home driveway. “Any time I shot a video that focused on me being sexual or objectified, I always felt uncomfortable. I kept thinking, “How does Tori Amos handle this, what would Alanis (Morissette) do in a situation like this?”
“So I really didn’t feel up to the task of competing but I felt I could still write songs so I started collaborating with other people,” Kreviazuk explained. “I could get something out of that without having to worry about this supposed “Celebrity Culture.”
Yet living in Los Angeles, Kreviazuk and Maida could not help but be observers to what elements fuel America’s current love affair with its celebrity culture. “I mean, does anyone really question whether Kim Kardashian is a good person,” fumed Kreviazuk.”I don’t even know how to talk about her, you have somebody who is absolutely nothing, who is such a waste but look at the attention she is getting. “Same with the Taylor Swift feuds with Kayne West, it’s not about music anymore, it’s all about who is fighting with who and who is flashing nude photos of themselves. I would rather have people addicted to Pokeman Go than worry about Kim and Kanye.”
To Kreviazuk’s credit, she has laid low while writing or co-writing an astounding amount of material for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Josh Groban, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Pitbull and Christine Aguilera. She even co-wrote “Over My Dead Body” with Drake and appeared on that track in his 2011 “Take Care” release.
Kreviazuk has also written a plethora of material for television and movie soundtracks including movies like `Uptown Girls’, `The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants’ and `Stuart Little 2′ as well as television shows like `Smallville’, “Laguna Beach”, “Joan Of Arcadia” and “Men In Trees”. Kraviazuk has also performed other people’s songs. Aside from her Armageddon exposure, she also song Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home” on an episode of `Dawson’s Creek’ and The Beatles’ “In My Life” on the tv drama, `The Providence’.
And when she was not writing or co-writing with husband Raine Maida, or focusing on her three boys, the pair devoted their philanthropic efforts to working with agencies like “War Child” and the World Wildlife Federation, efforts which eared both Kreviazuk and Maida Order Of Canada recognition in 2014.
“I started to notice a shift in people’s attitude towards music,” Kreviazuk noted in explaining what pushed her back into the recording studio. “There were lots of positive influences happening. Artists like Adele started to dominate (although, maybe dominating too much!) and I thought it was time to jump back in”
With her creative juices flowing again, Kreviazuk describes recording the 10 tracks on “Hard Sail” (Warner Music Canada) as a cathartic experience. “I just had songs in me that I wanted to get out, things I wanted to say,” she noted. “The album is full of little gems and nuggets about things that have happened in my life, I had so much fun writing songs like “Into Me, “Ticklish” and “Meant For This” with my husband Raine. It just felt like the right time to get back out there.”
Kreviazuk gave an indication of things to come by performing “Pay For It” with Kendrick Lamar on Saturday Night Live in November 2014 and this November she is set to perform an 18-date Canadian tour of small theatres culminating in a December 1 gig at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall.
“I can’t remember the last time I toured Canada, puzzled Kreviazuk. “I did a small tour of Northern Ontario last year so I am looking forward to it. I am planning something a little special. I want to leave people with a feeling of nostalgia but also have them feel the transformation from the new material, I don’t want anyone leaving feeling they missed out on something.”
For further information on Kreviazuk and her Canadian tour dates, please link to her website at www.chantalkreviazuk.com