Canadian alternative/indie rocker Terra Lightfoot has been strutting her stuff musically speaking since the early 2010’s. She draws heavily from her love of rock, soul and blues to create her unique sound. Late last year she released her third studio album New Mistakes and critics have been raving on about it ever since. Soon after she embarked on an album tour, which included a short tour of our Australian shores for the first time. Personally, I was disappointed to have missed the unique experience of seeing her live, especially alongside of her incredible band.
More recently, I learned Terra has been nominated for a Juno Award for her album New Mistakes and that she is surprisingly coming back to Australia next month. It’s safe to say I will not squander the opportunity to see her new Melbourne shows this time around! That said, I contacted Terra to talk about her new album, touring in general, that Juno Award nomination and my deep regret of not seeing her play here last year.
Firstly, congratulations Terra on your Juno Awards nomination. How does it feel to be nominated for best Adult Alternative Album of the Year? And what does it mean to you, given how hard you worked alongside your wonderful team?
Oh man, it feels so wonderful to be nominated! I’m alongside my friends in Whitehorse and the other folks in the category are all monster musicians. It feels good.
I regret deeply not seeing you play here last year. How did you find your whole Australian experience? What was the reaction like from audiences?
I regret deeply that you couldn’t make it! The entire Australian experience was so positive—we were received so well over there. I think that was partially because William Crighton’s fans loved us because he and I are the same sort of performer: honest and sort of raw. My fans over here LOVED seeing him when I brought him across Canada. The Australian festival shows we played were amazing too, Inland Sea of Sound I remember specifically, it was a beautiful day on top of a mountain and the crowd was just awesome. Really sweet and supportive. People went crazy sometimes and other times were silent and listening to every word. That’s exactly the kind of crowd I love.
Still on the subject of touring, what is your best memory of one of your earliest shows that still excites you? And Why?
So many memories! I suppose I remember playing at the Harvest Picnic for the first time—it was the first big show we played and it was in my hometown, so there was a lot of love in the air. I remember thinking the stage was the size of a football stadium compared to the little stages I’d been playing.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
To be kind to everyone you meet. That’s always been very important to me.
New Mistakes is a mix of almost everything – blues, rock and folk music. I really love the edgy side of your guitar work on this album . You can hear it on Paradise and Lonesome Eyes to Stars Over Dakota and Hold You. This is surely your most ambitious album yet? Is that a fair comment?
I’m sure it is, because I felt ambitious when we were making it. I felt confident, I felt excited. I have a great band and this was about letting everyone off the leash to do as they pleased. And likewise it was about letting go of my own inhibitions and allowing myself to play and sing whatever felt good.
Inspiration seems to come from many different places in your life. You seem to deliberately take aim at things that constantly surround you like falling in love, exhausting road trips and of all things pinball machine! How much of yourself is reflected in your songs? What really shapes the records?
A lot of these songs are a reflection of what I’m going through at any given time. Of course they’re shaped by things that happen to me, but as I travel more and more I’ve also been inspired by people I’ve met on the road, by my family, by my friends and things that they go through. Inspiration comes from everywhere for me.
Are you one of those musicians who can write when you are on tour? Do you find yourself making lots of notes when you are on the road?
I’m definitely one of those people. I love writing on tour. It allows the creative mind to flourish amidst the routine chaos of travelling from city to city and playing shows every night for a month.
I’m most curious about the effect Norma Gale has had on your evolving career. Is she someone whose constantly in the back of your mind when you think about music?
Norma’s story was really inspiring to me. I loved that she didn’t really care about what anybody thought, and that she was so determined no matter what. Certainly when people pick music as a career they have to be somewhat determined, because it can be really difficult, emotionally, financially, whatever. So I think the lesson I learned from Norma is that no matter what happens, we have to keep going.
Love is a huge theme not only on New Mistakes but on many of your songs from your back catalogue. On your current record one of my favourite tracks is the beautiful Two Hearts.It has a very nostalgic feel and sound. Can you tell me something surprising about it?
About “Two Hearts”? Well, it’s a saucy women’s song, in case you didn’t get that message. I wrote it about an uncomfortable topic that no one really likes wrestling with. Having a wandering eye when you’re in a relationship can be a really tough thing to admit to, and yet I think at some point or another, everyone has had that experience. And “Two Hearts” is about engaging with that and honouring the feelings of guilt and happiness and pleasure and self-forgiveness all at once.
Finally, what music excites you and why? That said, I’d love it if you could answer that by breaking it down to five songs by other artists that really inspired you from last year.
I love these songs very much:
“Going Down” Freddie King: This one came onto my radar last summer or something, and I’ve been playing it over and over ever since. Great tune, great band, great riff, great vibe.
William Crighton – he has a new song called “Someone” (or something like that) and he played it regularly on tour and I am OBSESSED with this song. I sang it with him on the last night of tour after freaking out about it and humming it all day every day. I can’t wait for this song to come out.
Bach, Cello Suite No 1: I’m learning cello as of December, so I’m consumed with learning this number right now.
Bonnie Raitt, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”: I love this tune and I think she’s fantastic.
The Weather Station “Thirty” – My friend Tamara made a record all on her own this year, producing it herself and calling all the musical shots. We made our records at the same time and discussed how fun it was to be women in charge of our craft. I really like how this song came out – her voice is wistful and airy and the performance is unapologetic and quite rock n roll considering the volume level and instruments she chose. My favourite part is the lyrics; I think she’s a great lyricist.