JP Hoe Talks About His Latest Album Mannequin [Interview]
Usually when we conduct interviews, we do them in dressing rooms; this interview was no different, except that it was an actual dressing room at Citizen Vintage clothing store in Montreal. Playing a short acoustic set at the store, JP Hoe took the time to chat with us prior to his performance. JP is what we at UpVenue like to call a Diamond In The Ruff; one of those artists who can make you a fan, if you give them a chance.
Here's the transcript of our interview, as well as a video of JP performing Lions and Tigers. For more information about JP Hoe, visit his official website. Shout out to Citizen Vintage for playing host to JP Hoe's performance. Since they opened back in 2011, they've opened their doors to musicians as a venue to showcase their talents. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for upcoming shows, as well as a fashion fix.
UpVenue: Your album Mannequin came out about a month ago, what's the feedback been like since its release?
JP Hoe: Truthfully, I decided not to read reviews. I feel like I'm getting positive feedback, but I decided that now that it's done, I wanted to keep my spirits high regardless, and if people didn't like it, there's nothing I can change about it. I'm really proud of it, and you know, it was my first chance to co-produce a record, and between myself and the other producer, we were hands on. We did most of the instruments on the record, and it was a very honest moment, and an honest slice of what was going on, so I'm happy with it. I know that our music supervisors are excited about it, so that's an aspect of the business that you can't ignore anymore, so that's good. I've been getting some positive feedback from fans, so I guess that's most important.
UpVenue: That leads me into the next question, you're a few shows into this tour; out of the new songs, which ones have been getting the best reaction from the crowds?
JP Hoe: Good question, the first song we've been playing, Learn To Let You Go is a song about somebody that joins a cult, and I tried to get myself in their headspace and think, I wonder if that's a terrible situation, and I believe it is. Another one is called Nothing Is Going To Harm You, and that's about somebody who orders a mail order bride and things don't work out, as it turns out. And there's a song called Lions and Tigers which is all about friends who started out as hired guns on stage with me and all turned out to be my best friends. Yeah, so, so far I couldn't pinpoint anything that's not been working all that well, but those three are striking the right chord.
UpVenue: Often before going into a song, you tell a little story about the song you're about to play. So out of all your songs, could you tell us the story behind one of your favourites?
JP Hoe: One of my favourite songs is called, I Only Did It For Love. The title is a little misleading, because it's really an ironic title for an ironic song and it has nothing to do with love. I was asked to be a best man at a wedding, and a couple of days before the wedding he came into my hotel room, it was an out-of-town wedding, and he said, "I don't know if I want to do this," and I said, "bullshit, you have to do this." There's 150 people that flew down from Winnipeg that expect you to do this. So that night, we talked with our surrogate therapist, Sam Adams (ha!), and then come midnight, he realized you know what, I do love her. It was just a little game he was playing with himself, and then he left. When he left, I started to think, wow, I wonder what it would be like to be in somebody's shoes who's got cold feet. Then I thought about this other song called Tall Trees In Georgia, which was an absolutely drop dead beautiful song about a woman, who when she was growing up, all the boys would all come around, and she keeps passing them by waiting for something better, and better, and better, and when she finally realizes that she's ready, there's nobody there waiting. It's kind of a sad, grim moment, and I tried to infuse those two ideas together, and as far as stories behind songs, that's definitely one of my favourites.
UpVenue: I heard in an interview that you feel that this album is a sort of graduation for you and that you now feel that you have all the tools and are ready to use them the way that they were meant to be used. What is it about this record that made you feel that way?
JP Hoe: I think it really had to do with taking charge of it, and I'm totally happy with saying that up to this point, I would seek out the opinions of any musician that was in the room. When we started to do pre-production, I was talking to Jean Paul Peters--the other producer--that I, for the first time, felt more confident with myself and thought, you know what, I think I'm ready. I want to be steering this ship, and when it comes to the record or live shows, you know, I'm comfortable with telling people, you need to play this. It might be boring to you, but I don't care, this is what I want to hear, and I want the merits of that to be reflected in the record. Whether people like it or not, then that's probably more clear and accurate judgement of how they feel about me as a songwriter than anything else that I've done.
UpVenue: You mentioned that you worked with Jean Paul Peters, how did that collaboration come to be?
JP Hoe: Well, I knew I wanted to record in Winnipeg, and I had worked with a few other producers, and there was a friend of mine named Matt Epps and another band called the Waking Eye who had both recorded with Jean Paul, and I knew he got really good tone. While that might be a bland statement, it's an important one. He owns, or co-owns, a studio in town and I thought, ok, if I'm going to co-produce, and he hasn't done a lot of co-producing either; this would be an excellent leaning opportunity to get to be a co-producer with someone who is not totally entrenched with their own greatness. We could work together, but still get my ideas out and he would be able to capture the tones--the great tones. It was a calculated risk that I'm happy with.
UpVenue: You mentioned Winnipeg, what is the music scene like over there?
JP Hoe: It's awesome. I feel real fortunate to have grown up in Winnipeg and to get to make music there. Not only do we have a real great live playing scene, but the scene is nothing unless you have people that want to come out and see it. We happen to have an incredible audience in Winnipeg, and a community that loves to come and see live music. People talk about the live music scene in Winnipeg all the time, but I think they forget that you can have a million musicians, but if you only have 10 people going to the shows, it's all for not. The goal for everyone is to have a career, everyone want this to be their job, so I feel really thankful that I have been embraced. I wouldn't change it, that's for sure.
UpVenue: What does the rest of 2012 hold for you?
JP Hoe: Good question. I decided to take the summer off so that I can get married and be a good man. In the fall, I'm hoping to get back on the road and do Canada, the Pacific West coast of the US, and possible go back to Australia, be home for Christmas time, and get ready to tear my hair out again next year.
Thanks again to JP Hoe for taking the time to chat with us.