Musical Discoveries: How did you get involved with the Balligomingo project?
Beverley Staunton: I have been singing and performing since I was seven in a band with my three older brothers. We are originally from Montreal and recorded three records and toured the province when I was between nine and eleven. When I was around fourteen the band split up but I continued on as I had no doubt singing was my calling.
My parents upped and moved themselves and me to Los Angeles. At that point I auditioned and was accepted into a Music Academy High School called Hamilton. That was one of the best experiences of my life as it introduced me to musical theatre and jazz as well as all the pop I had already been singing. Since then I've moved up to Vancouver and have been working as a full time session singer and live performer. I've recorded a Jazz CD which is available in some parts of Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
I was led to the Balligomingo project through a friend of mine who knew what it was all about and that Garrett was looking for singers. So one day I decided to drop by the studio and I had an immediate interest in the project when I heard the tracks he was working on. I brought home a couple of the tracks, wrote some lyrics and melodies and the rest is history. I continued to work on the project with Vic and Garrett for a few months until Garrett went back to Los Angeles.
And what about your musical and vocal training?
I started training with a private teacher when I was thirteen after I had been singing for a number of years. Then as I mentioned earlier, I went to school in LA and that was pretty intense, but a lot of fun. I took more private lessons when I moved to Vancouver for about a year, but haven't taken any in quite a while.
I've managed to really incorporate a lot of what I've learned into my performances and I think one of the biggest and best ways to learn is actually doing it for real. You can only learn so much in a lesson, but the growth comes when you can get on stage and leave your inhibitions at the door and just go for it. I have a little background in piano, but don't play much.
How would you characterise the songs that you have done on the Balligomingo album?
I'm not really sure how I'd characterize them. Coming from a bit of a mixed background of pop, jazz, and R&B, it was nice to not have to write in such a strict pop format and actually make sure lyrically that it wasn't too pop because that's not what we were going for. Lyrically, I wrote about things that indicated where I was in my life at that point. It's a style of CD that allows you to sort of say whatever you feel and it's ok.
Did you share any of the writing duties?
Yes, all but one of the songs I sang, I also wrote with Garrett and Vic. I'm at a point where I'm not really that interested in recording a lot of tunes that I haven't written. Something else happens vocally when what I'm singing about is really true to me.
Can you compare the material to any that you have done on your own or with others?
The material is more ambient, etherial, electronica than anything else I've done. I have a lot of pop demos which I'm proud of as well, but as I said, this was a nice change. Most of what I'm writing now for my own record is in the soul/R&B vein.
And how was the project put together?
I would basically spend time at the studio with tracks that were semi-done or completely done and write ideas, get the guys input and work on the tune until we could record it. I spent time at home writing as well, but more at the studio where it felt a little more inspiring. We would just complete one tune, record it and move on to the next. Some of the tunes were re-recorded to make it better or if small changes were made to certain tunes.
What kind of music do you find yourself listening to all the time?
When I was younger, I seemed to mostly be attracted to anything more in the soul/R&B vein and that hasn't changed a bit. These says I'm very attracted to artists like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and India Arie.
Do you also work outside the industry?
No, music has always been my career, I've never done anything else. I've never really had to think about it, it just WAS.
What are your future plans as a soloist or with Balligomingo?
My plans are to keep writing and, at some point in the not too distant future, record my next solo record. I have no doubt there will be follow up albums for Balligomingo. This is just the beginning. I think the record is great and hopefully I can be part of future works.
Why do you think it has taken such a long time to get from the pre-production promo stage to this release?
There was a lot of time put into writing the album. As far as anything else, I'm not really informed of anything that happens with the label. But I think part of it was that Garrett knew he could get a major deal and it seemed like he was waiting for the right thing to come along. And I think he did the right thing.
Has the internet been of any value to Balligomingo?
We've had fans from Garrett's marketing over the internet at the beginning stages. So yes, it has been a great way to let people know that it's been in the works and have people interested long before the actual release. It's nice to know that anyone in the world can access these sites at any time they want.
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