Kathleen Edwards - the Fest is yet to come
Daughter of a Canadian diplomat, 26 year old singer songwriter Kathleen Edwards has two celebrated albums under her belt. Edwards and her partner Colin Cripps will be in town as part of the Perth International Arts Festival playing Beck's Verandah on Friday, February 17. Edwards spoke to CHRIS HAVERCROFT after her brief trip to Mexico in preparation for her sun-drenched Australian tour.
Edwards has had most labels thrown at her from Americana to folk, and although she can't see where her music truly fits within any of these genres, she is just happy to be spoken about and to have the opportunity to play music as a living. That said there is no denying that some country artists have had an affect on her songwriting in a way that has had a much broader influence than just encouraging her to opt for pedal steel on some of her recordings. For the daughter of a diplomat who spent portions of her childhood in Korea and Switzerland, it is curious that she was exposed to this form of music.
'The music that influenced me growing up has had significant impact. The one thing about growing up overseas is that I was really cut off from a lot of the mainstream happenings of pop culture and what was going on in the mainstream music radio as a teenager. I think I just discovered music on my own rather than it being through one of the things that my friends were talking about. I really started hearing about music through my brother and through being in a little record shop and picking up a Bob Dylan CD. That element of it changed the way that I heard music. I wasn't influenced by the gaggle of girls going 'oh that guy is cute you must buy his record', although I can tell you I did buy a New Kids On The Block CD so I am not completely innocent."
On Edwards' debut album Failer (2003), she was candid in her disdain for the state of mainstream radio in Canada via the tune One More Song The Radio Won't Like. Since then her fortunes with radio have improved but Edwards is still aware of the difficulty in Canadian artists being recognised by their local media. It is a phenomenon that sees many artists look towards America for acceptance, with the hope that attention there will facilitate some interest on the home front.
"When I wrote that song and that record came out, it was really true. I put out a record and the day it came out I was playing on the David Letterman show and yet I couldn't get arrested in Canada. I couldn't get anyone to play any of my songs on any type of mainstream radio in Canada and it was very frustrating. I have always looked at it that I am kind of speaking for all of the people that don't get radio play who are Canadian and should be protected by the government protection of Canadian culture in the mainstream radio. To this day I do still believe that the mainstream radio in Canada - for the main part - don't play music that is representative of what is happening in Canadian music.