Chantal Kreviazuk finds balance in her career

Canadian pop piano songstress Chantal Kreviazuk is in a rather great place these days and has a number of things to be excited about. Among them, she has a new record (Plain Jane) in stores now and is looking forward to being back on the road with her long-time band. The tour kicked off on Nov. 6 in Vancouver and will see her performing at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton on Tuesday, Nov. 17 before heading to Fredericton for a show at the Playhouse the following evening.

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After a failed attempt at reaching one another via phone, I catch up with Kreviazuk a precise 24 hours later. Apologies for the missed connection of the prior day flow from the artist but truth be told, her cheerful and absolutely sweet demeanour quickly diffuses any hidden resentment on my part (of which there was none, for the record).

“I am really excited about playing these new songs live,” Kreviazuk says, her voice bristling with energy down the line from the gorgeous City of Vancouver.

While some solo artists might have a tough time holding onto their backing players, Kreviazuk is blessed in the respect that her backing musicians have been playing with her for years now. Having such stability in her backing band is a feat that is not lost on the songstress, who seems grateful that her band members hold such dedication to her after all these years.

“It is still really exciting to play with these guys; we know one another really well and have played together enough that there is a real tightness around our performances.”

Confidence is key and is something that isn’t lacking with the musician – but not in an arrogant way. Since her last record (2006’s Ghost Stories), Kreviazuk has been keeping busy writing songs even though said songs weren’t exclusively for her.

Over the past few years, she has become a songwriter of choice for many musicians including Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and more. The attention she has received for her songs is well deserved, although I asked her at what point does she stop writing for others in order to save some of her gems for herself? “It’s hard to give songs away sometimes. There has been the odd occasion where I have secretly hoped that the artist will turn down the song that is being pitched to them so that I can reclaim it for myself!” she laughs. “But it’s really a good sign that the interest in my songs is there to begin with.

One day I realized that people are getting a certain feeling from my music; it is incredibly liberating to write a song and let the song represent who I am and nothing more.”

To top the noteworthy accomplishments she can already include on her resume of song writing credits, Kreviazuk also has songs in with Faith Hill and Natasha Bedingfield for consideration, but admits that she doesn’t count her songs considered taken “until the packaging is complete and the record is on store shelves!” Kreviazuk’s newest record Plain Jane represents a new beginning of sorts – it is the first time that she finds herself without the backing of a major label.

She had been signed to Sony Music from the time of her 1996 debut until Ghost Stories in 2006 and now finds herself an independent artist with the benefit of major label distribution.

She has no ill words for her former employer but is quick to admit that her relationship with the company had gotten to the point where she felt as though there was no longer any attachment to the label.

“It seemed as though I just didn’t know anyone at the label anymore. I’ve always thought that you don’t stay attached to the company – you’re attached to the people behind the company,” she notes.

She is then quick to admit that while her experience of being an independent artist has been liberating in one sense, it is a vastly different experience than what she had been used to in the past.

“Not having that big machine behind me anymore can be a little overwhelming at times. I no longer feel entitled – I have to work for everything and have to find ways to connect with my audience.”

When asked whether she feels that she pursued the right path by going independent, she admits that she is at a loss to know whether she made the right decision or not.

“I have no idea! I don’t like to get too caught up or confused by a lot of the debate around that issue. Everyone has a different opinion as to what they feel is right or wrong.

“But at the end of the day, I am extremely proud of my new record and that is what matters.”

In addition to the songwriter and performer hats she currently wears, one important source of pride for the musician is her relationship with her husband Raine Maida (vocalist for Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace) and the three children they have brought into the world.

But with both her and Maida being touring musicians, one has to wonder how their home life and relationships with their children fare with their parents’ choice of career. Kreviazuk admits that while their professional lives can be rather busy at times, family comes first.

“It can be a tough balance but we’ve got a great team of people around us who help us coordinate the logistics of touring.”

She isn’t shy about admitting that leaving her husband and kids at home is tough, but she takes consolation in the number of ways that the family manages to stay connected while on the road.

“We tend to run a pretty tight ship at home; we are constantly in touch with our nannies and our kids when on the road. We text message back and forth; we’ll have iChats, the whole nine yards.”

Chantal says that while her kids don’t regularly travel with her, she is looking forward to them joining her for almost two weeks later this month.

In addition to that, she and her husband will be renewing their wedding vows to mark their 10th wedding anniversary.

With family playing such an important role in her life, does she ever foresee a time that staying at home and being a songwriter will appeal to her more than touring? Kreviazuk pauses for a moment and then confidently says, “I think it could end up that I don’t tour as much; maybe once every five years instead of necessarily touring every time I release a record.

“I’m very open to that possibility but I don’t really make any kind of plans for the future. I know that I will feel compelled to continue making music as long as I am connecting with my audience.”

As of press time, very few tickets for either of Chantal Kreviazuk’s shows in the province remain.

If you’re interested in taking in the show in either Moncton or Fredericton, I would highly recommend picking up your tickets soon!

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