Shaylynn Hayes from the Maritime Anchor had the privilege of interviewing Jeff Hope about Maritime Music, his advice for new artists, and his enthusiasm for music.
S: Do you feel maritime culture has been a huge influence on your music? If so, how?
J: Of course, home is home, right? I do not write about the roaring seas or the hills of Rawdon, but I have a deep connection to Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. I have a love of farming and old farming equipment and take a major interest in our long and tangled history. The Annapolis valley is one of my favorite places to visit especially at harvest time. I love the fall fairs and activities.
Our modern nightlife was an obvious influence on the song “A Night in Halifax” which I wrote from a feeling I had while walking the streets of Halifax late at night and hearing someone perform “Barrett’s Privateers” as it echoed through the streets of downtown.
S: Growing up, what was your exposure to maritime music like?
J: My father was my biggest musical influence. He introduced me to Blues, Rock n’ Roll, R&B and Country music. I did not have exposure to traditional maritime music, until my late teens, when I had opportunity to record and work with some very with experienced maritime musicians/artists. This most certainly broadened my horizons musically and helped to develop my appreciation for all types of music.
S: Has maritime music inspired your music, or have other styles?
J: To me the term “Maritime Music” simply means music from the Maritimes and that includes but is not limited to traditional music.
Yes, artists like Stan Rogers, April Wine, The Rankin Family, Great Big Sea, Sloan, Matt Mays, The Trues, Joel Plaskett have all influenced me various ways. When I was younger, I can say I was influenced and inspired by the success of some acts like Sloan, Matt and Joel as they were close to my age and achieving success at a time that I desperately wanted the same thing. I am proud of all of them and proud to say I am from the same home town.
The Maritimes has influencers in all genres of music, and they have reached across the globe.
There is an ever-growing appreciation for live music here on the East Coast”
— Jeff Hope
S: What is the most important part of making music for you?
J: For me, recording music the best way to express myself using all my talents, both technical and musical. Music is an amazing outlet and allows me to focus my mind, express emotion and speak to people in my own way on a different level.
S: Where do you draw the most inspiration for your songs from?
J: Inspiration can come from both personal experience or a random idea. I don’t typically pick a topic and write about it. I tend to play with melodies and chord progressions first and then let the feel of the song help dictate the lyric.
S: Are there any of your songs that you identify with more than others, or are more personal?
J: There are two songs on the record that feature my father playing harmonica. God as my Witness and Rely on your old Friends. These songs are from my teen years and I was able to pull the vocal and harmonica tracks from old digital recordings and then replay most of the instrumentation. Both songs for me are a deep connection because of the whole experience, not just the lyric or the song itself.
S: Do you believe music in the Maritimes is on the rise, or has been falling? Why or why not?
J: I believe the Maritimes is a treasure-trove of untapped talent. I know so many gifted musicians, singers and songwriters that need more opportunity to be discovered. For me, the Maritimes has always maintained a level of excellence on the world stage and we have had many great successes from all genres. I feel that we are a growing community of artists and talent and if the right people invested in the right artists, we could own the spotlight.
S: What’s your favourite part of performing for crowds in the Maritimes?
J: Here, in the East, everyone knows how to bring the party! In my travels of Eastern Canada, I have met many patrons/fans, from all walks of life, who quickly became friends. We are friendly and kind. ?
Music is a universal language!
There is an ever-growing appreciation for live music here on the East Coast and people love to get involved and help you how ever then can.
It is the most exhilarating feeling to hear the crowd singing along or chanting “one more song” at the end of a show! The encore is a ritual here in the Maritimes.
S: What song is your favourite to perform live?
J: Other then acoustic performances, I have never really performed either of my records with a live band. This is the year I change that. I would say that, right now, the song I look most forward to performing live is “Pyro for Hire.” It has a fun feel and a light-hearted lyric that I think a crowd would get into.
S: You took a hiatus between your albums. What’s it like to be back making albums after all this time?
J: It is a truly amazing to be creating music again. For many years, music became just a way to supplement my income. Another job. My creativity was stifled by long nights, little sleep and way too much driving. Now, music is solely about sharing my art with people that will listen. It feels good to do what you love without the boundaries.
S: What challenges do Maritime artists face that might be unique to the area? Do you believe it’s the same as being a musician from other parts of Canada? The USA?
J: I believe that it is very difficult to get a “break” in the Maritimes. There is a ton of talent but not enough venues to perform original material and not enough industry professionals discovering and developing new artists.
S: Do you feel like streaming, iTunes, and the digital music industry has been helpful for Maritime acts, or do you feel like we’ve sort of been slow to adapt?
J: Streaming and digital media make it easier for an artist to be heard if they market themselves correctly. Just like selling traditional media – if you simply make a product and expect people to buy it, without marketing, you will not have very much success. I have learned this the hard way as that is exactly what I did with my first record. There is a lot more to it then simply recording a great song or a great record.
I do not feel that artists are treated fair from the streaming service providers and unfortunately, I fear this will lead to streaming being boycotted by major artists and forced to changed in a way that makes it harder for fans to consume our music. This is the fault of industry and the streaming providers not a fault of artists. Streaming providers need to put more of the profits in the hands of artists before artists can no longer afford to create.
S: What advice would you give an up-and coming Maritime musician or band?
J: Take criticism graciously, Use it constructively, Don’t give up, Keep knocking on doors and most of all, Keep creating your art!
S: Is there anything that you’re working on now that you can talk about?
J: Currently, I am rehearsing and assembling a performance group, made up of some of the most talented musicians I have had the opportunity to work with. I am excited to be able to perform my art for people that want to hear it – with people I really want to perform with.
S: Where can fans see you perform in 2020 and beyond?
J: I am aiming at performing in the spring and summer, this year, and I am planning a few release shows to showcase the new record. After that, my goal is to perform as often as possible and continue seeking opportunities to reach more music appreciators.
More information Jeff Hope, and his albums can be found at www.JeffHope.ca.