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Inverness Scene: “It felt right to reveal a little more about myself”


Canadian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney has a history with the highlands – her debut self-titled album was released through the north of Scotland’s Middle of Nowhere record label. Now, as she returns for a date at the Tooth and Claw on Saturday, now on her third album, Mo talks to Kyle Walker about returning to the region, going electric, and finding catharsis through songwriting

By Kyle Walker, Inverness Scene

Are you looking forward to playing the Tooth and Claw?

Really looking forward to playing the Tooth and Claw! It’ll be my first stop on this upcoming tour.

How would you describe yourself, your sound and your live performance style to a new audience?

I would describe my sound as a mix of pop/rock/folk. It’s tough to accurately describe. I’ll be touring solo with my acoustic guitar. It’ll be an intimate bunch of shows.

I understand there’s already a Highlands connection for you – your first self-titled album was released by Middle of Nowhere Records, based here. How did that come about? Have you got any other fond memories or connections to the region?

I was introduced to Middle of Nowhere Records by my friend Rachel Sermanni. We met at a folk conference in Toronto years ago, and she was kind enough to bring me over to the UK to open some of her shows.

This new album – The Details – is a far different beast to that debut. For one thing, you’ve gone electric! What was the catalyst?

I’ve always been partial to playing electric guitar. I began playing music on my acoustic guitar because it was the easiest set up logistically. I felt right with this record (my third) to dig into the more rock side of what I do. I co-produced this record with my friend and mentor Joel Plaskett, which was a first for me.

The album deals with some dark emotions. How did the album come together for you?

Writing has always been very cathartic for me as my songs are usually very personal. It felt right to reveal a little bit more about myself with this third album. It’s been interesting and rewarding to have people tell me their own experiences after hearing my record.

The album deals with some dark emotions. Did creating this album help you process and deal with this time in your life (and how)? How did the album come together for you?

Writing has always been very cathartic for me as my songs are usually very personal. I have always used it much as a way to communicate myself to others and understand myself. It felt right to reveal a little bit more about myself with this third album. It’s been interesting and rewarding to have people tell me their own experiences after hearing my record.

Looking more generally at your work as an artist, what inspired you to go into music and songwriting? Has your initial motivation changed or evolved since you first started writing and performing?

As far back as I can remember I have really loved music. I began playing guitar at 11 and fell in love. I love the feeling of creating art. If it has an element of creativity to it, I’ll probably like it.

What has been the best gig you’ve played so far? The worst? The weirdest?

The best gig I’ve played so far was in my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. I had the opportunity to play with the Symphony Nova Scotia as part of the festival the Halifax Pop Explosion. Worst gig I’ve played was probably at a bank. Weirdest gig also would have to be the bank gig.

What has been the nicest thing that somebody had said about your Music?

The nicest thing to hear is that someone has related to my music, or that it has helped them in some way. That is the best part for me.

THE LIST: NEON GHOSTS WÄHLT DIE BESTEN ALBEN 2017


By Neon Ghosts

05. Mo Kenney – The Details

Sehr persönlich, streckenweise auch sehr beunruhigend: Mo Kenney ging uns mit ihrem düsteren Machwerk direkt unter die Haut.

One Stop Record Shop Premieres “On The Roof” [VIDEO]


By Danielle De Wolfe, One Stop Record Shop

As far as Canadian exports go, Mo Kenney is up there with this year’s most exciting.

Gone are the days that saw the nation pigeonholed as a folk factory, whose peripheries were lined with the likes of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Now filled with an exciting new breed of genre defying musician, glimpses of psychedelic pop can be found intertwining with heavy flecks of punk rock.

Needless to say, it’s artists like Mo Kenney who are making their mark on both sides of the Atlantic. Fresh cut “On The Roof” melds buoyant, anthemic choruses with surging guitar lines to create a slick and wholly satisfying offering. Accompanied by a gritty and monochromatic visual, this premiere harbours a feisty, rebellious streak, standing its ground and invoking the essence of greats like Joan Jett and The Runaways.

“I began writing “On The Roof” during a solo tour in the US,” notes Kenney. “I had a day off in Syracuse, NY, and wrote the chorus for the song that day. [READ MORE]

Check out “On The Roof” below, alongside a host of upcoming UK tour dates throughout February.

MO KENNEY FEBRUARY 2018 UK TOUR DATES
Saturday 3rd Feb: Inverness Tooth & Claw
Sunday 4th Feb: Aberdeen Lemon Tree Studio
Tuesday 6th Feb: Sheffield Cafe No.9
Wednesday 7th Feb: London Green Note
Thursday 8th Feb: Preston The Continental
Saturday 10th Feb: Exeter Phoenix
Sunday 11th Feb: Manchester The Castle

The Details

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1. Cat’s Not A Cake
2. On The Roof
3. Details
4. June 3rd
5. Maybe I Am
6. Counting
7. Out The Window
8. If You’re Not Dead
9. Unglued
10. I Can’t Wait
11. Video Game Music
12. Lights Out
13. Punchy
14. Feelin’ Good

View all albums

Bio

With her third album, The Details, Mo Kenney traces her own strange, devastating, and ultimately hopeful trip through the trials and tribulations of booze-fuelled breakdowns, clouds of depression, and disintegrating relationships. On each of its 14 tracks, she unflinchingly confronts her annihilation and eventual redemption, leaving nothing out. The concept album is her most personal and cohesive work to date—combining elements of bruising rock ’n’ roll, vivid psychedelia, and haunting, left-of-the-dial pop, Kenney navigates the darkest waters in her life with self-deprecation, genuine soul-baring, and typical black humour. It opens with a calm before the storm as the eerie sadness of “Cat’s Not a Cake”—about splitting a beloved pet in half as a relationship falls apart—provides a deceptively gentle beginning to a ride that swiftly steers into self-destruction.
Read More

Following up with the off-the-rails overdrive of “On The Roof,” The Details explodes out of the gate, finding Kenney unable to escape the dangerous spiral she finds herself in. Before and during writing the album, Kenney was en route to rock bottom: depressed with dark blues and drinking like a fish, unable to hold herself or her relationships together, alienating the people she loves, and living hell-bent on oblivion. She comes to terms with her own toxic behaviour while channeling the late Elliott Smith through spectral atmospheres on “June 3rd.” With “Maybe I Am”—a reverb-soaked tune that turns to punchy guitar riffs—she realizes in the midst of trying to hook up with someone that she can’t interact with humans properly. The hazy, laid back calm of “Counting” finds her worried she’s fallen so far into despair that she’s losing her mind. And the vicious, rollicking “If You’re Not Dead” shows her playing warped mind games over feral guitar solos and biting hooks.

Somewhere along the way, Kenney finds herself dazed and broken in a place that not many people find their way back from. “Unglued,” with its breezy sway, is likely the most summery song put to tape about being fed up with your own messy self. “I Can’t Wait” recalls the gauzy dreamscapes of Yo La Tengo with a hushed and grateful understanding that as bad as things are, it’s not the end of the world. But it’s not necessarily smooth sailing from there, as Kenney struggles to stay optimistic with “Lights Out,” and sings about getting clocked in the face at a bar by some meathead during “Punchy.” Still, she can’t help but find the hilarity in getting slugged, slyly laughing through her bloody teeth the whole time.

Finally, she arrives in less troubled seas, closing softly on the sparse, clear-minded “Feelin’ Good.” The storms weathered to get there may be the kind that leave lasting scars (or at least a few post-bar stitches), but with clear skies on the horizon, Kenney wears those scars as a reminder of what she’s been through, and the kind of seasons in hell she’s capable of enduring. Her latest is a record of all those storms and the routes and detours and trials of pushing through them while keeping her sense of humour gracefully intact. By turns rowdy, reflective, brave, funny, and deeply honest, it signals an already accomplished songwriter coming fully and completely into her own as an artist. Produced by Mo Kenney and Joel Plaskett, The Details vividly documents Kenney’s fight to survive her own worst enemy—herself.

Tour

November 15th, 2018
Labrador West Arts & Culture Centre
Labrador City, NL
SPECIAL GUEST of Fortunate Ones Hold Fast Release Tour
8:00 PM
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November 17th, 2018
Gordon Pinsent Arts and Culture Centre
Grand Falls - Windsor, NL
SPECIAL GUEST of Fortunate Ones Hold Fast Release Tour
8:00 PM
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November 18th, 2018
Joseph R Smallwood Arts & Culture Centre
Gander, NL
SPECIAL GUEST of Fortunate Ones Hold Fast Release Tour
8:00 PM
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November 19th, 2018
Stephenville Arts & Culture Centre
Stephenville, NL
SPECIAL GUEST of Fortunate Ones Hold Fast Release Tour
8:00 PM
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November 20th, 2018
Corner Brook Arts & Culture Centre
Corner Brook, NL
SPECIAL GUEST of Fortunate Ones Hold Fast Release Tour
8:00 PM
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November 24th, 2018
St. John's Arts & Culture Centre
St. John's, NL
SPECIAL GUEST of Fortunate Ones Hold Fast Release Tour
8:00 PM
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December 7th, 2018
Marigold Cultural Centre
Truro, NS
7:30 PM
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