Tuesday May 09, 2017

Fiver exhumes the voices of the women from a 19th-century asylum

Fiver is the solo project of musician Simone Schmidt

Fiver is the solo project of musician Simone Schmidt (Jeff Bierk )

Listen 17:25

A few years ago, singer-songwriter Simone Schmidt was reading a local newspaper from Kingston, Ont., when they came across an article about a place called the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane, a 19th-century institution which has been closed since 2000. Women there were held in horse stables prior to the institution's opening in 1859 and that image in particular struck Schmidt the most.

"That was enough to give me a sinking feeling of deep despair," they say. From there, the musician decided to explore that feeling and the stories of the women who were there. They researched and read almost everything they could and, as Schmidt reveals, "the narratives were so clear and present." 

The result of Schmidt's archival research is a new album called Audible Songs From Rockwood (released under their solo project, Fiver), a collection of songs written from their imagined perspective. Today on the show, Schmidt discusses the process and meaning behind their latest record.

Head over to CBC Music for a track-by-track break down of Fiver's Audible Songs From Rockwood.

— Produced by Beza Seife