INTERVIEW: Lisa Joyce, of Joyce Island

Lisa Joyce, of Joyce Island rolls in to Montreal’s Divan Orange, Sunday June 15th for the Bride & Groom EP release. Since having met Lisa back in November 2013, on her Folkways and Railways Tour, a lot has changed. After receiving national air play on the CBC, as well as being voted Rockline's 2013 Emerging Artist to Watch AND best all-around recording of the year, there is clearly something different about the folk songstress I met over 6 months ago.

With almost consistent touring over the past year, with the for Folkways and Railways Tour (sponsored by Via Rail), and The Canadiana Tracks Tour, Lisa has travelled from the West Coast all the way East, playing over 50 shows and serenading passengers along the way. Most recently I caught up with Lisa on the Hinterland and Heart Tour, which comes to an epic conclusion at NXNE showcase in Toronto. Version 2.0, B.C. native Joyce, emits a new found assurance in her indie-folk persona, as she recounts her adventures on her 3 consecutive tours and new found love for the East Coast.

We shot the shit Q&A style getting the scoop on the non-stop folk traveller;

Sarina - How was your “tour by train” experience?

Lisa - “The whole experience was just amazing! I had never seen Canada in its entirety; it was always been on my bucket list. Having the opportunity to play my songs on the train, moving from province-to-province, all while playing for captive audiences was just incredible. To be honest, when I met you back in November, it was my first time doing a cross-Canada tour, and I had never been to the Maritimes before. I fell in love with the place, everyone is so awesome and welcoming, and people are so into Canadiana there. The second time around for the Canadiana tracks tour was just as good; I was able to just take it all in a bit more and write a lot of music”.

How has touring Via Rail-style impacted your current day to day?

 “The train was interesting. I wanted to play some old school Muddy Waters, Lead Belly, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, and all of those old souls that played on trains. It was almost like I was channeling them on tour. It really breathed fresh life into my musical soul for sure. It gave me this new found confidence, and I feel that I found my footing as an artist, those last couple tours. I feel like I am freaking Lisa Joyce and here I am world! It stretches me out of my comfort zone, and now I feel that this is my comfort zone. Being able to write these songs while looking out my window, playing so many cities and seeing a big part of this country, I feel like I have this huge new found hard on for Canada.”

Touring alone must present crazy challenges… Any crazy adventure stories you can remember?

It's always an adventure; you never know who you're going to meet, where it's going to go. It's definitely trippy! I get off a train with sea legs, haven't slept properly in days, at times it’s hard to get yourself going without the camaraderie of being in a band, You’re on your own, and you're a lot more vulnerable. I get up on stage and literally read my diary night after night for complete strangers. Their responses to my music have basically fuelled me to keep going. I really try to have no expectations when I travel. I try not to take myself too seriously. I'm just a girl with a guitar showing up to play my heart out. Funny story, just this past week I dropped my bright pink nail polish and it pretty much exploded everywhere, my room looked like a crime scene of hot pink.
Another time, on my first night in Halifax, I hadn’t eaten all day. I was tired and starving and I wandered into this bar called Bearley’s. There were like 20 alt-country musicians just jamming and they told me the kitchen was closed but why don't you join us, there is one seat left. We ended up jamming with them until like 3 o'clock in the morning. And it seems like I have a story like this for every city I've toured!”

There are a lot of different elements to your Joyce Island EP as every song is different. Was this a planned execution?

 “I know a lot of people say this, but GENUINELY when I write I don't have an agenda of what is going to come out. I don't think ‘well today I am going to write a slow, make you cry in your beer, kinda song’. They were just coming out of me, so I just put it on paper and we'll see what happens. In the studio the songs took on a life of their own. The different elements in the album were definitely not planned; then, we sat back and listened, like ok, cool. It's funny because it's a rock album, a rootsy album, but it is heavier, It's interesting because this one track Dry These Eyes, it's a secret track ,just me and the guitar. It's not even listed on the track listing. It ended up being THE song that gets national air-play. People continuously tell me how they feel that this one song is true to me.”

In today’s Music industry there are many different pulls; electronic, rock, etc. How do you feel your reception has been?

 “I don't know to be honest; I just feel the response so far has been a good indicator that it can work. In 2014, the age we live in, you can do pretty much do whatever genre you want. Yeah the mainstream is tucked away in that pocket to a certain degree, but then it has never been a better time to play whatever the hell you want. There are no major labels dictating anymore and there is no one holding you back from creating. I feel empowered and like it makes me stand out.”

Can you attribute anyone for supporting you pushing you forward to follow this dream?

“Oooh yeah, my best friend Suzanne, she’s more like a sister to me. Her guidance and her friendship, and encouragement along the way have been so paramount. There were so many times you’re exhausted and just tired, and you need to continually believe in yourself. In the very beginning it’s like pushing a rock, and it’s not moving. You just have to keep going and going just to create momentum, it was terrifying, and Suzanne was by my side the whole time. I don’t feel like I’d be here if it wasn't without her.”

What new gems to you have for us on the Hinterland Heart Tour?

“I'm really excited to be playing a NXNE showcase in Toronto. I've got some new material and tracks and more experience under my belt being the main thing. It will be me but REALLY me now, and some new Canadiana tunes that will be on the next album. ”

 Can you tell me a bit about the new album?

“Yeah I'm collaborating with Spencer Burton from Attack in Black and City and Color, and Daniel Romano, also from Attack in Black. Daniel is doing his own alt-country thing now. Anyway, when I listened to Spencer's new album about a month ago, (comes out in August) it's so incredible I was like I need to make music with you. So we are going to put our heads together and see what we can come up with. So I'll be recording this summer and hopefully it can be released by fall.”

Big things are on the horizon, as Lisa goes onward to NXNE, and finishes the Hinterland and Heart Tour. Oozing assuredness in her Canadiana roots, the Patsy Kline-channeling spitfire inhales inspiration from every road, plane, or rail traveled. With her soulful voice and catchy melodies, her late night diary entries take on a whole new persona, as she captivates audiences.

Be sure to check out the self-titled EP by Joyce Island and all of her goings on via her Bandcamp page

Click the link below for more photos of Lisa at both M bar and Divan Orange

Sarina Wilson

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