SW Sounds: Crissi Cochrane
Family 'heirloom' inspires Windsor artist's first album in six years
SW Sounds is a weekly feature that profiles a southwestern Ontario artist and their new music. Listen for it Mondays on Afternoon Drive between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on CBC Radio One.
The inspiration for Crissi Cochrane's new album came from something that's been in her home for nearly her entire life: a guitar.
But not just any old six-stringer: a 56-year-old Fender Jaguar electric guitar. The vintage instrument has long been in Cochrane's family, and showed the Windsor soul/pop singer the way forward on her first album in six years.
Cochrane spoke with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre about her new album.
Tell us a bit about your musical roots.
I started making music when I was living in Nova Scotia. In 2010 I heard about how the Phog Lounge in Windsor had been named one of the best live music venues in all of Canada. I knew some musicians in the region, so I decided on a whim to come out here and see what Windsor was all about.
I fell in love with the city and ended up moving here in August of 2010.
I started building up a record collection, and I guess that's how my style started to shift from the folk artist that I was on the east coast, into this more soulful and jazzy style that I kind of picked up listening to albums by Billie Holiday and the saxophonist Stan Getz. I was just building my knowledge of music of the 20th century.
You also write and sell custom love songs. How does that affect the music you write for yourself?
Back in 2016, I started writing custom love songs. It was something I wanted to do just for Valentine's Day, but the idea really took off and I've been doing it ever since. It's a really great way for me to keep my songwriting skills sharp.
I get a questionnaire of responses from the person requesting the song and then I craft something using only their words. The song doesn't put words in their mouth. As a songwriter, I find that's a really fun puzzle for me.
The songs end up becoming part of my repertoire and being included in my live shows, and two of these custom love songs made it onto my album.
Tell us a bit more about that new record.
My new album is called Heirloom. It's the first full length album I've put out in six years, and it's actually the first album that I've ever recorded where I play the electric guitar, and that's where the name comes from.
My guitar is a 1964 Fender Jaguar that my Dad gave to me — with the stipulation that it has to stay in our family. So in giving it to me, he essentially created an heirloom. It's really informed my musical direction -- going from acoustic to electric really does change your playing style and the overall vibe of the music. It felt like it was finally time this guitar got some airtime.
It's something that has been with me throughout my life. Although it wasn't in my possession until my 20s, when I was a kid I used to take it out of the closet in our basement and I would show all my friends and kids in the neighborhood. It's a very glamorous looking guitar - it's quite stylish and has this beautiful finish to it. I would look at the guitar and tell the neighborhood kids 'my Dad used to be a rock star!'
What's the lead single?
The first single and the first track on the album is 'Hungry Love.' It's a really upbeat song - it really slaps. I wrote it as an exercise to try and uncover why I started experiencing a lot of anxiety on stage a couple of years ago...even after I'd been onstage already for several years.
What I noticed was that I had been making music to attract love, and the relationships that I attracted tended not to be very fulfilling. This song explores what it was like making music just for love and then resolving with finally having found a true love that motivates me.
This interview was edited and condensed.
Crissi Cochrane releases her new album 'Heirloom' on February 29 with an album release show at Meteor in Windsor. Have a listen to 'Hungry Love' as part of her SW Sounds profile:
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