Ian Kelly Shifts Between All These Lines

Photo by Martin Girard
Photo by Martin Girard

Ian Kelly has never been one to choose the path of least resistance.

Hailing from the west end of Montreal, Ian is the son of an anglophone mother and a francophone father. He has spoken French throughout his 30-plus years on this earth yet has pursued a career in music singing in English.

It is a dichotomy that he admits might be holding him back within the Quebec market but could stand to serve him well outside of La Belle Province.

“I have always sung in English, mostly because of the music I was exposed to when I was growing up,” Ian says. “Some people in Quebec do not feel as though they have a right to sing in English if they can speak French, almost as though their personal reasons for wanting to sing in English aren’t good enough.”

Ian has nothing but respect for his peers, in whatever language they choose to express themselves; he just happens to find that singing in English works best for him.

“Maybe I’m just lazy,” he laughs. “I don’t have a problem writing in French but making the songs sound good is a whole other thing. Maybe it’s all in my head though. There is this notion that there is no support for francophone acts outside of Quebec when in fact, it is just the opposite.”

Ian’s performance in Moncton on Saturday night is in support of his fourth studio effort, the pop-driven All These Lines. The album boasts more in the way of an optimistic worldview, the direct result of Ian shifting priorities for the two years between 2011’s Diamonds and Plastic and last November’s release of All These Lines.

“In the two years between records, I did a lot of touring through Europe and Canada but I also made a point of taking some time off,” he says. “I just wanted to live a normal life for a little while. I wanted to hang out with my kids and bring them to school and be involved. I didn’t bring kids to the planet to not spend time with them.

“A lot of those experiences are reflected in the subjects and lyrics of this new record. The album reflects my life of the last eight years of being a father but I also wanted to shine a light on the importance of doing things for myself as well.”

Helping keep Ian closer to home these days (aside from his family) is the construction of a recording studio in his home. While he has pursued home recording throughout his career, having an open, natural light-illuminated space has been more conducive to the creative process.

“I have had a workspace in which to record for each of my previous albums but was also limited by the room that I was working in. I had the opportunity to build a nicer sounding room and so I went for it. Aside from the fact that my ‘studio’ used to be a dark basement, my studio space now is somewhere that I want to work. The vibe is much different. The difference is remarkable.”

Another benefit of Ian’s new artist-friendly studio space is the fact that it is more inviting to others who may want to work with the musician. Ian has already welcomed Canadian songstress Sarah Slean to his new studio and is also actively working with New Brunswick native Maxime McGraw.

Having the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians is something that Ian holds in high regard but also sees as an essential part of helping make him a well-rounded musician.

“Such a big part of this business is making yourself heard in an overcrowded market, whether that means getting your songs out there or bringing people out to your show. It can be daunting. Music is a difficult industry but it is also one of the best industries to be in,” Ian says.

“It is important to work with others on my music but it is awesome to work with people on their music as well. Some of my most favourite ideas come from the musicians I perform with.”

What: Ian Kelly
When: Saturday Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Empress Theatre, Robinson Court, Downtown Moncton
Tickets are $27.50. Advance tickets available for purchase at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone at (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca