The charm of the Maritimes proved to be too alluring to ignore for musician Kim Wempe.
A native of Humboldt, Sask., Kim also called Alberta home before finding her way to Nova Scotia in 2007 to become a student in the jazz program at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. She is now a proud permanent resident of the East Coast.
“I totally fell in love with the East Coast,” Wempe says. “I fell in love with the music scene but it is also in Nova Scotia where I met my partner. Everything happens for a reason.”
Despite being so geographically removed from the area she knows so well, Kim says she can readily identify many similarities between the people of the Maritimes and the Prairies.
“There are of course some differences between the Prairies and the Maritimes but for the most part, you are greeted by hard working people. Both regions are very blue-collar but I think it is ultimately what helps keep people so down to earth.”
Although she eventually realized that the St. F.X. jazz program wasn’t for her, the pursuit of music as career was never in doubt.
Her 2009 debut record Where I Need To Be won the artist early career acclaim. The album won Kim the 2009 Music Nova Scotia Award for Folk Recording of the Year, while the following year she was crowned the Rising Star of the Year at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards.
Another fringe benefit that stemmed from her debut record was the high-profile fans she earned. Joel Plaskett, Old Man Luedecke and Thom Swift all became fans of her work and would each contribute to her 2010 sophomore release Painting With Tides.
Despite the close proximity of her first two releases, three years would lapse between Painting With Tides and her latest record Coalition.
“I went through a lot of changes after Painting With Tides, most notably becoming an independent artist,” Kim says. “I have learned so much about the business. A big factor in the record taking three years was a matter of me wanting to make sure I had the right team behind the album. Making sure the business side is in order is perhaps just as important as the music contained on the record.”
Coalition sees Kim take a bit of a musical detour from her first two efforts. Influenced by the story-telling tradition of Americana music, the record is arguably Kim’s most adventurous to date. Coalition delves into roots-pop music and the blues and showcases her vocals in ways that went unexplored on her first two records.
Kim credits producer Chris Kirby with having helped bring the record to life.
“I first met Chris on the Whose Song Is It Anyway? tour,” she says. “I knew he had worked with Charlie A’Court on his newest record and shared with him that I was interested in pursuing an American-gospel-pop thing for my new record. He got really excited about the idea and so I flew to Newfoundland to cut one song and test the waters. Needless to say, the session went well and so we pressed forward with making an album together.”
Asked what Chris brought to the sessions aside from his past experience in the studio, Kim says that the vision Chris brought to the songs in addition to the sounds they captured were critical in the album’s completion.
“One of Chris’s strengths is that you can have 50 things going on in a song and he is able to hear through all of it and identify what needs to change first. He hears things on so many different levels.
“Aside from that, I really wanted to hone my songwriting skills with this record. Chris has a great pop sensibility about him. I basically gave him free rein to go through my songs and cut out or add what he felt would help make them better. The end result is what I feel is my best record to date.”
Kim’s performance in Riverview this Wednesday evening comes on the heels of an appearance at Ontario’s acclaimed Mariposa Folk Festival earlier this summer. In addition to an upcoming pair of appearances in North Carolina, Kim will be returning to Australia for a tour later in the year.
Keeping such a busy live schedule has left the artist little time to think about what shape her next studio album might take.
“I am not one that can write when I am on the road and because I have been playing so much over the course of the last year and a half, I really need to get back to solitude and spending time at home and see what I come up with,” Kim says. “I never want to sacrifice quality for the sake of putting a record out. It has to be the right time and the right feeling. I am looking forward to getting back to writing soon.”
What: Kim Wempe
When: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 7 p.m.
Where: Caseley Park, Riverview. In the event of rain, the concert will move to the Riverview Community Hall, 145A Lakeside Dr., Riverview