In the time between the completion of her new album Roller Coaster and the time waiting for the release of the record, Halifax rock guitarist Christine Campbell admits Tom Petty was right all those years ago: The waiting is the hardest part.
“It’s been a few years now that I have been working to get this release together. Naming the album Roller Coaster was completely appropriate, because that’s what life often felt like these last three or four years,” Campbell says.
While she has sustained a prolific live profile throughout Atlantic Canada in the time since her 2013 self-titled release, pulling together the basics for the making of what would become Roller Coaster was no small task.
“I struggled with so many different aspects of getting this album made, dating back to the process of writing these songs. I wasn’t feeling inspired to finish a lot of the material I was writing because I was so unhappy with what I was coming up with. I actually started to worry that I was incapable of doing a good job.”
As songwriting was proving to be a handicap of sorts, she also realized that juggling the time-consuming responsibilities of managing her career with a seemingly endless run of performances was leaving her feeling creatively drained.
“I had so many plates to keep spinning. It seemed like things were coming at me all at once. While it’s amazing to be in demand as a live act, the business side ended up overtaking the creative side of me. I had to make a conscious effort to restore the proper balance between the business and creative sides of what I do. Being a full-time musician doesn’t afford you the luxury of an hourly wage; you’re working yourself silly almost everyday, but what moves me forward is the end result, and playing music for an audience,” she says.
Helping bring a new dimension to Campbell’s music is Canadian hip-hop artist Classified. While the two of them working together might strike some as an odd couple pairing of sorts, the rapper has proven himself a valuable ally across all genres of music.
Not only has Classified collaborated with folk-inspired artist David Myles on 2013’s chart-topping hit “Inner Ninja,” he also helped bring Halifax’s Ria Mae to the top of the pop charts with her single “Clothes Off.”
Campbell says that what she hoped the producer would bring to the mix is exactly what she wanted:
“I’ve always considered myself someone that is inspired by blues-based rock; that is something that will always be reflected in my music. With ‘Last Man Standing,’ I wanted to try something a little different and get outside of my comfort zone. Classified is all about melody, and ensure that every line of every song counts. The overall way he approaches a track is that he just keeps chiselling away at it, almost as though he’s sculpting it, until he arrives at the end result. It’s pretty remarkable to see him in action.”
While the overall lessons learned over the last four years have been numerous, Campbell insists she has learned to trust the journey she is on, even when numerous detours or roadblocks pop up along the way.
“There are times I seriously question whether everything is going to work out, but I’ve learned to just put my faith in what I’m doing. As a musician, you have to be willing to take risks, both professionally and musically. I often think of my career being like a Rubik’s Cube: It’s a great achievement to get one side of the cube done, but then you have to totally mess things up in order to another side. It’s an almost never-ending journey, but there’s nothing aside from music that I’d rather be doing.”