Multiple Juno Award-winning musician Stephen Fearing (Blackie & the Rodeo Kings and Fearing & White) has been taking photos for years, but this past October was the first time he collected and showed them publicly. On January 20th, starting at 7pm, Stephen brings that show to the eBar, where he'll discuss his work and perform a short solo set. Here's a primer:
The Bookshelf You attribute a wealth of down-time to your interest in photography, and suggest that, initially, taking the photo might’ve been more important than doing anything with it afterward. Could you maybe fill us in on that shift from doing something for the sake of doing it and beginning to explore the life of these things after that moment had passed?
Stephen Fearing It really has a great deal to do with the leap in digital technology and what is possible now because of that. Like most artists these days I spend a lot of time on my computer (both the act of creating and disseminating whatever it is I have created—working on my website and all the other social media channels.) As photography software develops, my ability to take a picture and use it in so many different ways increases dramatically and I am no longer an amateur photographer with a fridge full of undeveloped film, but an artist who uses photography to grace his album covers, web page etc. etc. etc.
BS Can you conceive of a relationship between your eye for what makes an interesting photo and your ear for what makes an interesting song? And does photography make possible different explorations for you than songwriting has in the past?
SF Yes for sure. Songwriting and photography are both different ways of telling a story, but in many ways, photography is simpler, less analytical, less cerebral… I see it and if I am lucky, I capture it. Trying to capture images with words is harder.
BS What does it mean for you to use a photo of yours for an album cover? What do you hope for an image to say about or add to a collection of your songs?
SF Choosing an album cover “image” is like choosing the album title… one or two words that sums up the vibe of the record (not always an easy task). In the case of my last album, Between Hurricanes, the title came about through a series of chance circumstances (an e-mail to a friend complaining about getting my work completed during hurricane season in Nova Scotia). I was going to call the album 50, as in the age. Once I had the new title, the image leaped right out of my collection as being perfect for the cover. For the new Blackie and The Rodeo Kings release, SOUTH, we had all agreed, well in advance, that we would go with one of my photographs for the cover (my bandmates are all very supportive). I sent out a number of options that worked with the word SOUTH and we settled on the image of the dome car gliding through the boreal forest of Saskatchewan. There is a common theme to this new B&RK record of migration and travel, so that image captured the spirit of the songs, plus we recorded the songs very acoustically and the simple B&W image clicked.
You can find out more about the event here: "Between The Rumble Strips" at the eBar
Be sure to check out Stephen's photos ahead of time: http://stephenfearing.photodeck.com/