I understand youve crossed the country sixteen times touring by Greyhound coach. How would you describe this experience?
I used to tour on the Greyhound a lot at the beginning of my career. There was an awesome unlimited pass and I would save a lot of money by using it. It became a
bit of a way of life. It takes three days to go from Vancouver to Toronto on the bus
and about two to go from Vancouver to Whitehorse.
What do you eat when you're on the road?
Spoon: I became vegetarian last year, so I basically eat anything without meat and dairy in it. It’s surprisingly hard to find.
How has touring affected your social life?
I think it’s made my social life a lot more spread out. I have friends in lots of cities
and it feels like touring is my way of going out to see people.
I grew up in Winnipeg and I've been from there to Vancouver and back a few times by bus. The imagery and pacing of My Prairie Home certainly jives with my recollection of that sense of space one finds only on the prairies.
How do you feel the prairies have influenced your outlook on life or aesthetic style?
I’ve lived outside of the prairies almost as long as I lived in them now, but I think
there’s still an influence. I’ve made extensive projects about my history in Calgary
and sometimes I still see that aspect of my life come up.
How has Calgary changed since your youth?
Calgary is both the same place it was and strangely different. There are more
resources for queer youth, but there is still a lot of conservatism. I would say all of
the problems remain but people who are different have had more of a chance to
find each other and connect.
Decter: How has Canada changed in the time you've been active as a performing and recording artist?
I’ve been releasing albums and touring since 2001. The music industry in Canada
has shifted in some ways to become more open, but like anywhere it’s been harder
to sell music. I’ve managed to keep building my career by playing a lot and diversifying what I do. I also make film scores, write books, do speaking engagements and produce other people’s music.
Decter: How has your place in Canada changed, or what is your experience of
establishing yourself as an artist?
I have had a good experience establishing myself. It happened very slowly and was
mostly based in traveling and playing a lot. I like the pace of having a grassroots
following. I like doing a lot of the planning myself.
Decter: Do you travel to the US often? Are there places along the border that show
some continuity of culture, or do the two countries seem sharply distinct from
I travel to the US sometimes. I find places like Seattle to be very similar to Victoria, where I live, but I wouldn’t say that Texas and the Yukon are similar. The colonial histories of the countries make them have similar power structures.
I've performed with other live musicians, with hip hop beats and metronomes. Playing to tracks offers less surprises, yet presents a different set of challenges. How has your approach to instrumentation in the studio and on the road changed over time?
I used to have a country band I toured with. Sometimes I’d have six other people on stage. Now I tour solo most of the time and sometimes with a drummer.
Decter: Which elements are practical concerns and which are musical ethos?
I really enjoyed playing with a band, but it’s not economical for touring. Electronic music has allowed me to access a larger sound while playing solo because I can play the tracks I produce on stage.
What music are you excited about right now?
I’m excited about projects I’m working on. A band called LAL is releasing a very exciting album called “Find Safety” on my record label, Coax Records, on April 29, 2016.
Do you perceive a similar degree of awareness and acceptance everywhere in Canada, or have civil rights proceeded at a different pace in different places?
I think Canada is on par with most western countries as far as civil rights go for
trans people. Different places have different reference points, so I wouldn’t want to
compare how people in countries with cultures less similar to American culture are
organizing getting rights.