As far as whimsical alt-folk singer-songwriters go, Jordan Klassen is up their with our favourites. His album, Repentance, is due for release next month and it’s a confident debut for fans of Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine. This summer saw Jordan play festivals in his native Western Canada and, with an extensive North American tour on the horizon, we talked to him about the debut, his love of the UK and who his dream duet partner would be.
Your debut album, Repentance, is due for release on September 18th, can you tell us a little about it?
Jordan: Repentance is a record that I recorded with spring in mind. The songs are written largely from a place of depression and anxiety, but choosing to see hope through those things. Admitting weakness, and then embracing strength. Like the spring season. It’s messy and muddy and all the snow melts and it’s wet but all around you there’s signs of new life. The land repents, in a sense. For some reason, I really associate spring with Disney soundtracks and I derived a lot of inspiration from those songs of my childhood. Because of that I think in some weird way this record is childlike and whimsical, juxtaposed with some dark grownup sensibilities.
And what was the recording process like?
Jordan: The recording process was different than anything I’ve ever done before, as I chose to go in to the studio with only the very basics of the songs and flesh out the arrangements without any pre-production. I like that feeling of having captured a one-time-only moment and I think that this record has a lot of those.
Describe your music in one sentence…
Jordan: Unsentimentally sincere, whimsical, orchestral fairy folk-pop.
Who are your musical influences?
Jordan: I’ve been realizing more and more how much the music that you liked as a kid influences your whole creative consciousness, hence the Disney soundtracks. I also listened to a lot of Enya, Abba and DCtalk. These days I’m really influenced by Joanna Newsom, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Nick Drake and Belle And Sebastian.
What do you think is the best album ever written?
Jordan: Whoa. That’s a weighty question. Am I allowed to say Sgt Pepper’s? That’s not a copout. It’s just really good.
What’s been your best gig so far?
Jordan: One that really stands out is a three-piece set we played a while back in Montreal at Le Cagibi. It was just one of those nights where I just felt so connected to everything I was saying, every note I was playing, and felt like everyone listening felt the same. Those are really rare and so encouraging.
If you could duet with anyone, who would it be?
Jordan: Joanna Newsom! But the duet would have to require that I get to write a song with her too. She can just weave a melody together with poetry and imagery like no one else. And she’s pretty.
What TV show would you like to hear your music featured on?
Jordan: Uh, I think that’s already happened. And the answer is MTV’s Teen Wolf.
Where in the world do you most want to perform?
Jordan: Glastonbury Festival. I’m a bit of a European history nerd and the UK has a special place in my heart. I’m not just saying that to suck up. You should see my bookshelf. And my heart.
What’s your fondest musical memory?
Jordan: Being 21, sitting in my room and recording songs on Garageband. I often think of that time as my creative golden age. Not that the songs I was writing were better than now (they weren’t), but I can so vividly remember that feeling of unhindered creative energy. I was just making music that I liked because I liked doing it. Nothing else to bog it down.
What are you listening to right now?
Jordan: I’ve had a few go-tos recently: Bonobo, Alt-J, Tycho, Andy Shauf, Jon Hopkins, Lord Huron, Kishi Bashi. I’ve also had a U2 ‘Achtung Baby’ phase for the last month. That happens about once a year.
Be sure to buy Repentance when it’s released next month!