Sean Conway is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Peterborough, Ontario, Originally a resident of the Curve Lake First Nation, Sean’s approach to music is as unique as the road that has brought him to the present day. A self-proclaimed avid musical explorer, Sean blurs the lines between 60’s era country music, rock and pop, allowing each of those genres into his songs without any one of them being dominant.
Performing at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge this coming Saturday and Sunday, Sean credits his parents for having given him such a wide musical pallet to paint upon.
“Music was always a big part of my childhood,” Sean says. “My parents had excellent taste in music and so very early in life, I was surrounded by records and cassettes encompassing everything from Merle Haggard to the Velvet Underground.
“It was only after I began writing songs at the age of ten that I realized just how much those diverse tastes in music ended up influencing my own work.”
Having written his first song at 10, Sean played his first show at a small Peterborough café at the time he was 11. Although he recalls setting up those first performances were sometimes as easy as making a telephone call, not every aspect of his music career has been quite that easy.
He moved to Peterborough at age 14 and, when he couldn’t find work, dropped out of high school and began busking on the city streets. It was a prophetic move in hindsight as it was on the street that Sean met a couple of musicians who asked if he would be interested in playing guitar in their country band.
“They asked me if I could play lead guitar to which I replied that I could despite never having done so in the past. I learned so much so quickly though.”
It didn’t take long for others to take note of Sean’s talent, landing him spots with groups from right across the country.
It was approximately two years ago that Sean made the decision to focus more on his own songwriting rather than performing the material of others. Feeling as though the timing was right with the experience that he had gained, he says that he would rather fail on his own terms than to always wonder why might have been.
“When I first decided to do my own thing, it kind of freaked me out a little bit but only because I had been playing in bands for so long. I’m good with it now though,” he laughs.
“Making a career in music is constant hard work but it is also pushing yourself forward to do things you haven’t done before. I want to give people something that I put my heart and soul into. There can be a lot of security found in playing music as a part of other bands because after all, you still have to pay your rent, phone and hydro bills. For me however, It became about finding a balance between being comfortable and having a good quality of life.”
When it comes to job security in the music business, there is none. And as musical tastes inevitably change in what seems like overnight sometimes, some musicians might be inclined to seek out a record label deal with the hopes that their often unparalleled promotion machines might one day help draw their winning numbers.
“It is definitely tough to be an independent artist these days but at this point in my career, I’m not quite sure what a major label could do for someone like me. What I do and the music I make doesn’t necessarily fit in with current trends. I’m quite happy just to keep my head down and keep pushing forward as I figure out my place in the bigger picture,” Sean says.
Fortunately for Sean, he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve.
This past January, he released The Blue Acre, his debut recording, marking the start of a planned four releases from the singer-songwriter in 2014. The second release in the series, the humorously titled It’s Ugly To Look At Love When You’re Average, was released last week with the other two records slated to follow in the second half of the year.
Asked how he ever concocted such an ambitious plan for 2014, he said that the idea came to him in an informal way.
“I was sitting, drinking a coffee and simply said to myself that I was going to release four albums this year,” Sean says. “All too often, I have seen people talk a lot about writing and being creative but then they end up sitting on what they are creating for an extended period of time.
“There is something spontaneous and pure about not over-thinking the songwriting process. That is what I am enjoying most about this endeavor. Maybe this isn’t the best way to raise my profile but I really enjoy the process of taking songs from being just a thought through to recording and then to release.”
What: Sean Conway
When: Saturday June 14 & Sunday June 15, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton