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Hamilton's Jessy Lanza turning heads with 'Pull My Hair Back' 21:03

Unlike a smorgasbord of Canadian indie darlings from the past decade, Jessy Lanza didn’t move to Montreal to launch her music career.

Instead, she left it, ditching grad studies at McGill University to write and record music in her hometown of Hamilton, Ont. 

“I didn’t have the opportunity to make my own music,” said Lanza on Friday’s edition of CBC Radio's Q with Jian Ghomeshi, of her time in Montreal. “I was doing a lot of reading and writing, and not a lot of creating.”

In a wide-ranging interview with guest host Terry O’Reilly, the electro-pop singer-songwriter spoke about her creative process, touring Europe in support of her debut LP, 2013’s Pull My Hair Back, and her affection for late-‘90s R&B.

Jessy Lanza

Musician Jessy Lanza poses by her one-woman set-up in Studio Q. (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)

The conversation, which was book-ended by performances by the Hamilton songstress, made generous mention of Lanza’s hometown and occasional artistic muse. 

“I think people think of Hamilton as being like a rockin’, rock ‘n’ roll kind of city,” she said. “They don’t think of electronic music as being made there. But a lot of great electronic bands come out of the Hamilton area.”

(In fact, Jeremy Greenspan, frontman for Hamilton-bred synth-pop stalwarts Junior Boys, co-produced Lanza’s record.)

She also addressed the starring role Jed “The Dancing Guy” Lifeson plays in the video for her airy single Kathie Lee. A fixture in downtown Hamilton, he’s well known for shuffling rhythmically, and whimsically, down the sidewalks as he travels around the city. 

“I’d see him dancing around Hamilton, like everyone else sees him, and thought that he had a pretty great look about him and would be awesome in a music video,” Lanza recalled.  

She said she reached out to Lifeson through Facebook to see if he was up for the gig.

“He liked the idea and he was into the song and he agreed to do it,” Lanza said.

She added later: “He's a happy guy. He’s very positive.” 

To listen to the interview, click on the audio button in the top left-hand corner.