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Leaves ready to unfurl

Songwriter Davidson putting Juno lessons to good use

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/3/2017 (1166 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In the fall of 2015, Winnipeg singer-songwriter Grant Davidson — who performs under the moniker Slow Leaves — was one of three inaugural winners of the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class.

The award is meant to provide the tools necessary for emerging artists to make them "Juno-ready," through industry education and financial help, part of that being a week-long industry intensive in Toronto, where Davidson shook a lot of hands and participated in some "workshoppy" events. 

Grant Davidson, a.k.a. Slow Leaves, used funds from a MUCHfact award to pay for a video for How Do I Know, the first single from his upcoming album Enough About Me. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Grant Davidson, a.k.a. Slow Leaves, used funds from a MUCHfact award to pay for a video for How Do I Know, the first single from his upcoming album Enough About Me. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

While Davidson says he doesn’t quite feel "Juno-ready" (though, he adds, he’ll accept one if they want to give it to him), the experience is something he is grateful for.

"The coolest parts of it were meeting some of the people I met and people who I still email and communicate with," says Davidson, 36, citing Montreal rocker Sam Roberts as one person who made an impression.

"There’s all sorts of takeaways from everybody who’s been doing it a long time and has experienced the highs and the lows of it all, rather than just the lows, like a lot of musicians I know," Davidson says, laughing. "But Sam Roberts was really cool because I think we have a bit in common, having families and trying to balance those things, he’s just an easygoing guy and nice guy to talk to."

One of the biggest financial portions of the award is $10,000 from MUCHfact — a foundation that assists Canadian talent funded by MuchMusic — to make a music video. Davidson used the opportunity to go to Victoria to shoot a video for the first single, How Do I Say, from his upcoming album, Enough About Me, which he says should be out later this year. 

Enough About Me is the follow-up to Davidson’s critically-acclaimed 2014 record, Beauty is so Common, which landed him a No.b 1 spot on the National Folk/Roots chart.

His new record is self-produced, which, while out of the norm for Davidson, was something he felt was an important task to take on.

"It’s something I really wanted to do, it was kind of important for me to do that. I learned a ton doing it... it’s funny, I made a lot of mistakes — I think of them as mistakes, other people won’t hear them, it’s all part of it," he says. "Production... a lot of it was just fleshing out the ideas that I liked and figuring out which ones work best, and it was a great process." 

Davidson has acknowledged this album is his most personal work to date, partly due to increasing his work on the technical side, through production, but also because he has grown as a songwriter. He made a conscious effort to create music authentic to who he is. 

"I feel like it’s a much more honest representation of where my musical ideas come from, but also as a songwriter I try continually to write more and more honestly from some sort of true place, like whatever that is, and that’s a process I’m a continually on. I’ll probably say that about my next record too, that it’s my most personal, but it’s a process."

But with all that honesty comes moments of fear — of being too open, sharing too much and being too vulnerable — which is something many artists, including Davidson, must confront in order to produce their best, most genuine work. 

"I mean depending on what you’re writing about, it takes bravery. I don’t want to say I’m a brave person, I’m not, but I try to be, and the people I admire the most, songwriters that I really cherish and mean something to me, they’re fearless in their writing and that’s something I try to get at myself because there’s so many things you could leave out if you want to filter yourself, and, just for me personally, I think I’m doing a disservice if I filter things like that," he says.

"So, I try to go right after it; whatever I write about, I try to sink as deep into it as I can, and that means living in the song for a while which, again depending on the topic, isn’t always so healthy but I feel like what I get in the end is that much more rewarding."

Davidson is heading down to Austin, Texas, this week to play three shows at South by Southwest and next month, he will be the featured performer at the Winnipeg Free Press’s Sunday Brunch Collective, which takes place April 9 at Kitchen Sync. 

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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Updated on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 12:51 AM CDT: Corrects song title.

March 23, 2017 at 3:21 PM: Updates headline

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