An introduction to the 80s band Hooters kicked-off this visit with Lacasse, which takes readers through a night on the beach and how to score house concerts in British Columbia
Coyote Music: First, I don't know that I'll put this in the interview, but as I was listening to "Silver Lining" I couldn't help but think of The Hooters hit "And We Danced." Have you ever heard of that band, or do you know that song? Something about the timbre of your voice and harmonies took me immediately to their harmonies in that song. And I mean that in a good way -- that was a hit in the 80s when I was a kid and I went out right after I heard it and bought their cassette.
If you happen to have any weird connection to or inspiration by The Hooters then I may include it in the interview. Otherwise, I just wanted to share.
[Spoiler alert: it stayed in the interview]
Stephan Lacasse: I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before, but I totally love it. The vibe is exactly how I imagine "Silver Lining" in my head when I’m singing it!
CM: I see you've "played hundreds of gigs throughout your career, ranging from corner pubs and barn weddings, to arena shows and large festivals." This begs the question: do you have a favorite show you've ever played? And/Or, what's your favorite story to tell about a show you've played?
SL: One of my most memorable gigs was this past summer at an outside sandy cafe-bar in the middle of Savary Island, off the coast of Lund, BC, called the Mermaid Lounge. The whole island is off-the-grid, and you have to hire a water taxi to get you there and back. The night I played there the place got super busy and I strummed and sang for hours in what turned into one of the best parties I’ve ever played. After a bunch of us went swimming in the ocean, which was glowing from bioluminescence; then slept under the stars before heading out in the morning. You really never know what to expect when you head to a gig, and some are absolute magic.
CM: You've got a solid sound that is simultaneously polished and organic. A song like "Danger's Arms" is a pretty traditional ballad, arrangement-wise, while "Alien Imposters" is a wacky tune...almost Elvis Costello-y. How would you describe your sound to someone in a bar 30 minutes before you go on, letting them know what they're about to hear?
SL: I’d say it’s Indie-Folk/Acoustic Rock, with some alternative influences thrown in. "Danger’s Arms" totally sets the tone for the record, in terms of instrumentation and melodic direction. "Imposters" did end up sticking out a bit on the record, but was a lot of fun to write and record, and I don’t mind adding some variety in a full length.
I think what may be happening is I’m exploring how to get out my head and create from an emotional, sincere core, but there’s a winking self-awareness that can’t help add a little camp.
CM: You were based in Toronto for a long time. How'd you like it and what was it that made you seek out a change of scenery?
SL: I really love Toronto, for all it has to offer. There’s so much culture and bustling activity, and it really takes quite a while to get to know the place and all the little nooks and crannies that make it such a special city. Living there brought so many amazing opportunities, collaborations and experiences. Moving to the west coast, aside from the scenery and fresh-air, brought a break from the literal fast-lane, as well as a creative fresh-start, where all of sudden I have a moment to collect myself, appreciate where I’m at, and start expressing a more-up-to-date version of myself. I’m slowly learning to chill out, after years of downtown living and being in a hurry all the time.
CM: And now that you're way out West, do you seek out gigs in Vancouver to get back into the city or are you loving a life in smaller towns?
SL: I’m so lucky that where I live there are multiple breweries, cideries, festivals, restaurants and community halls, all with a focus on live music for locals, and of course tourists, mostly visiting from Vancouver. I am starting to seek out more Vancouver gigs these days, but the thing I’ve been super-grateful for is that I can keep quite busy in my own backyard with performing live, collaborating with other musicians, and recording. My first Vancouver gig since moving west was a backyard concert that was booked through Side Door Access, a really cool new service that connects musicians with hosts willing to put on concerts. I played to a full backyard of music-lovers who had never heard of me before.
CM: You've mentioned having diverse influences. Who are some artists who've influenced you most, artistically speaking?
SL: Influences that line up with my sound are City and Color, Lumineers, Blue Rodeo, CCR, Tom Petty and Stars. More recently I’m into new stuff from Gregory Alan Isokov and Julian Taylor, Dan Mangan, Ocie Elliott, Jeremy Albino, Ghostly Hounds, Hannah Georges; and of course a lot of the local talent out here on the Sunshine Coast.
CM: Those high harmonies in your song "Silhouette" - holy shit they're high. Is that you?
SL: Yup. I can sing high lol. I have a lot of fun with it. I really love crafting harmonies when I’m recording, especially those high blue-grassy harmonies.
CM: You've got some new music on the horizon. Tell us a little about that. Are you building on the style of "Whiskey Creek Surf Shop Blues" or going in a different direction?
SL: The new songs are a natural progression from the last stuff: Vocal-centric campfire fare with a little cheekiness and some melodrama. This past year I’ve been especially inspired by the artistic community here on the Sunshine Coast. It’s a real vortex of creativity, with a wealth of wisdom and creativity, and so many amazing songwriters. This is a great place to be an artist because there’s so much encouragement and also a lot of get-togethers, singing circles, and events, where it’s impossible to not be motivated to create more. So as I’m writing this new batch of songs, I’m trying them out in some of these circles, and the songs are naturally coming out as suitable for the kinds of performances that come with the culture here.
CM: Live shows... You've done 'em solo and I assume in myriads of full-band lineups. Do you have a preference?
SL: I’m enjoying the agility that comes from flying solo. I don’t have to compromise and I don’t have to coordinate with others. I do miss the accountability side of things quite a bit, as well as the whole merging-of-minds, camaraderie thing. Also, there’s no substitute for more instruments and voices, of course. I don’t know what the future holds, but for now, this feels right. I am jamming with other musicians regularly, so it’s likely there will be something that comes from that; but the dominant emphasis is on the solo singer-songwriter stuff.
CM: What are your goals as you look forward to the rest of 2023 and into 2024? More recording and releasing music, or are you focusing on playing live...or both?
SL: I’m planning on a ton more shows and releasing more music and videos. I’m mostly looking forward to playing for new audiences and seeing who kinda gets what I’m going for and enjoys it.
CM: Do you have anything else you'd like to convey to readers that hasn't yet been touched on?
SL: I’ve been making my own music videos, a process I really enjoy, with varying results. Over the winter I started getting into animation too. I like to incorporate all the things I’m into, if I can. I’ve also started doing the occasional Twitch live stream from my home studio and live shows. I love that and plan on spending more time on Twitch. It’s more of a mellow hang than a whole structured show, and what I like about it is you can download your live stream file afterwards and then cut it up into bite sized pieces and share those. I’m excited about workshopping some of my new songs that way: twitch.tv/stephanorstephan.
CM: Thanks so much for answering all these questions. And do feel free to plug anything you want!
SL: Please follow me on Instagram, Spotify and subscribe to my YouTube channel, and follow on Twitch. If you like what you see and hear, please introduce my music to other people you think will like it. That’s the best way to help musicians these days, other than seeing them live and buying their merch. Also, if you can think of any musicians you think I’ll like, please send me their names and I’ll check them out. I love finding new music of all genres.