Budding songstress Jess Hill is nearing the end of her first national tour.
“We’re in the homestretch,” she said, in an interview with the Outlook.
In a tour that began in B.C. in early April and stretched across the nation and back again, the folk rock musician will play her third last show May 8 at the Glue Factory in Canmore. Another show, scheduled for May 7 in Banff, has been cancelled due to a double booking.
“So far it’s been super diverse, we’ve played bars and art galleries and house concerts,” said Hill. “It’s kind of nice because it breaks up the tour monotony, having to adapt your show to each room and audience.
“It’s my first time across the whole country and it’s exciting.”
Hailing from the lower mainland of British Columbia, Hill first emerged on the music scene with the release of her debut album Road in 2006.
Her second album, Orchard, was released in late March. Working with producer Aaron Joyce, Hill pushed new boundaries with complex arrangements and a dreamy sound that has defined her music as being more than folk and not so easily classified.
While the album was only just released, it was recorded nearly two years ago.
“Being an indie musician, this time I didn’t want to run forward, I wanted to release it at a time that I could actually support it, which meant planning in advance.” she said, explaining why the album waited to be released.
After Orchard was recorded, Hill paused to participate in the Peak Performance Project, an extended contest and tutorial program for young musicians in Vancouver.
“I waited until (Peak) was done and I could plan the best approach, and it just seemed right not to rush it,” she said. “I really love the record, which is a good feeling to still love it after that long of a time period.
“There’s no distance from it, I still get excited that we made it, and I worked with such a phenomenal team of people, I’m glad I gave it the time to breathe.”
For Orchard, Hill said they ended up creating little worlds for each song.
“That was more in my mind, telling stories in more traditional folk songwriting, and after I finished that record, I kinda felt like I had achieved what I wanted to do more artistically,” she said. “I came out of that experience really wanting to share dreams, in addition to telling stories. I wanted to create something that felt a little more dreamy and less sparse, while still maintaining space.”
Hill is looking forward to the Canmore show, as it means a return to the mountains.
“We’ve played lot of small towns, in addition to cities, and some of those experiences are pretty cool,” said Hill. “I’m excited to play in Canmore again. Last time I was there was last June, and there was such a lovely group of people that came out to the show.
“It’ll be really nice to be in the Rockies – I kinda miss the mountains. It’s a strange thing, that when I got to the east coast I needed to see the ocean, and now I’m ready for mountains.”
Following this tour, Hill plans to take some time off and, besides playing a few summer festivals, will begin writing her next record.
“I have songs that I was writing around the same time, and new ones too, and I have the itch to get back to work and write a new record,” she said. “You’re always a few songs ahead of yourself, or an album behind, which is good because it means you’ve got something to do.
“I don’t know what direction the next album will go, it’s hard to say, right now I’m sifting through songs and figuring out what I want to do. But I do want to make something that has a bit more of an upbeat pulse to it this time. A few more toe tappers than shoe gazers.”
To see a recent video made by Hill, visit http://vimeo.com/21333640