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.