Call & Response: Megan Hamilton

Toronto singer/songwriter Megan Hamilton has been crafting rustic, bourbon-tinged acoustic pop for a few years now. She co-founded an independent label with friends called Familiar Music and released her well-crafted debut full-length Feudal Ladies Club last spring, which was well-received both locally and online.

Skip ahead one year - a year that saw her tour the east coast and some parts of the US in addition to sharing the stage with My Morning Jacket at the Guvernment - and Megan brings us how we think about light, a collection of six amazing songs once again made in the rural seclusion of the prairies in Saskatchewan. Any fan of Megan's mostly low-key debut record will be surprised with at least one of the songs on this new release (which officially came out in indie record shops across Canada yesterday via Scratch Distribution).

Megan's EP release party for how we think about light will be at the El Mocambo on July 19. I had a chance to talk with her about this new release, where it was made, and what's next for this local lady on the rise.

Keep reading for the complete interview.

blogTO: You worked on both releases with producer/engineer Mark Vogelsang. What's so great about working with him and why do you two work so well together?

Megan: We have similar philosophies about music and our ears like the same sounds. We get electric feelings from a well-recorded guitar sound. That fellow is passionate - he is so dedicated to the sound. I will say this until the end: none of this would be without Mark Vogelsang. For whatever reason, he took an interest in what I was doing at an early stage. Nobody has ever believed in me in the same way that Mark has. Aside from the fact that Mark records drums and used to be in the band before he quit it all for the glory of calculus and home-owning, he is as much a part of the music as the song lyrics. I think that because our personal dynamic is filled with gigantic jokes and enormous love, that works itself into the process, so it always feels like a gift when we get to spend time recording.

You recorded your debut full-length and this new EP in an old school house in Saskatchewan, right? How did that come about and why do you love working there?

We actually recorded this new EP in a church - Harris United. Mark was going to be home in Saskatchewan for the winter, and we wanted to do another project. The Feudal Hall where we recorded Feudal Ladies Club wasn't available, but Mark had done some recording at this church and loved the acoustics. For me it was simple - I love Mark's family, and getting away from where I normally live my life is ideal for making music. Plus, I needed to see Jake the dog again. He's that dog in our first little video that Mark made. This is lame - my eyes are welling up right now thinking about him. What is it about that damn dog??

One song on the EP really stands out. What's the story behind "Detroit" and is this a one-off departure in your sound or a preview of rockin' things to come?

Well, you'll see at the CD release. We just rehearsed this new song last night and I'm so excited about it. I think I was forcing myself to do a better job with bar chords, so I stuck them in there. When we took it on tour last year, Jimmy Rose (who was in David Picco & Jetset Motel - the band I was touring with and who I stole so I wouldn't have to play alone) came up with this riff one night, and I can't even remember if he did it the whole way through, or if it was exactly the same, but I stole it for the recording. We had a great time with Detroit, and then I got antsy. I thought "Oh my god, I'm going to alienate myself from all of my fans, it's going to be like Bob Dylan at Newport, am I ready for this, am I strong enough?" And it's clearly a lot different, and yet to me it's a perfectly sensible addition to the release. I love guitar solos and distortion and loud music. And I also love quiet folk songs - I am a frosted shredded wheat.

Your EP release show is at the El Mocambo - a very cool venue that you sound great in, and one you have played at quite a bit. What's so great about the El Mo in your opinion?

I love it there. The El Mo holds personal significance for me on many levels, so I like that I feel that when I go there. They have wonderful sound engineers working there who are patient and really care about the sound for the band as well as the sound in the room. [El Mocambo Manager] Yvonne has been nothing but pure awesome to us. I really like her.

What are your plans for the rest of 2007?

In September I am trying to figure out a way to go to Texas and other states that I miss for a visit. In October we've been invited to play a festival in New York City, which is super rad and means I get to hang out with my good friend Melissa among other lovely people I know there. And then I'm going to spend the rest of October and November finishing up the next album (which will be another full-length), and the plan is to start recording it in December and releasing it in early spring so that we can have a full summer of touring, which is where my heart is at this moment. Somewhere in there I'm supposed to be doing some musical additions for my great friend Jennifer Fawcett and her play Goat Show which will run in Iowa City. I'm excited.

Megan Hamilton and the Volunteer Canola
how we think about light EP release party
with The Northwest Division and Emilie Mover
Thursday July 19, 9pm
El Mocambo
$8 at door

Call & Response is a weekly series of Q&A's with bands/artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo by Corey Goodyear

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