With the release of his fourth record Broken Hearted Beat in September of last year, Chaisson is finally starting to see some national recognition come his way. He has scored a Top 20 video with his single Slippin’ Away on the MuchMoreMusic video channel and when combined with tours opening for established acts like The Trews, it becomes clear that it might finally be Chaisson’s turn in the spotlight.
The musician will be opening for The Trews at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton tomorrow night. Show time is 8 p.m.
Although a comparison to Haligonian singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett isn’t entirely unwarranted, the strength behind Chaisson’s pop songwriting helps the artist stand on his own. That isn’t to say that Chaisson minds the comparison, but he has a different perspective.
“Joel and I are pretty different musically,” Chaisson says from backstage in Cranbrook, B.C. “The comparison to Joel is awesome though because I have so much respect for the guy. I had the opportunity to write with him leading up to this record and the experience was excellent.”
That being said, Chaisson definitely “gets” why people like to compare him to others.
“I think people like to compare all musicians to someone else whom they think people might be able to more readily identify. In the earliest days of my career, I had a lot of comparisons to songwriter Gordie Sampson; we both grew up playing the fiddle and then branched out to producing and writing.”
Chaisson was born into a musical family. His father and cousins for the past five generations have played the fiddle, with Chaisson having picked up the instrument himself at the age of five.
“I played in a Celtic band as a teen and was given the chance to travel around a lot with them. But getting exposure to different kinds of music was really important because as a fan, I always loved all styles of music.
“I think that comes out on Broken Hearted Beat too,” Chaisson says. “My older brothers were into hard rock and heavy stuff while I had a sister who listened to Top 40 stuff and my Dad was a hardcore fiddle fan. But even with everyone listening to what they wanted, everyone in my family still listened to folk music. That was the constant. I didn’t realize that I was surrounded with such a diverse mix of music until I looked back at growing up.”
With production work on Broken Hearted Beat handled by former Big Sugar/current Grady frontman Gordie Johnson, Chaisson felt confident that his record was in good hands.
Having met Johnson at a songwriter workshop during the 2008 East Coast Music Awards in Fredericton, Chaisson admits having been rather intimidated of Johnson upon their initial meeting.
“I didn’t really say a whole lot to him,” Chaisson recalls, laughing. “We sat down, went through one of my songs and then I invited Gordie out to the show that we were playing that evening. He came out and told us that he had really enjoyed the set and that if we were going to be working on a new record to let him know.”
Once the wheels were in motion to have Johnson work on his new record, Johnson introduced Chaisson to fellow Maritimer Joel Plaskett, after which point Chaisson says that “everything fell together.”
“I ended up learning a lot from both of them,” he says. “The first thing I took away from the sessions was the extent of their musicality. Having the opportunity to work with them so closely, I really got to witness how talented they are with their writing skills. And then on the recording and production side of things, Gordie is a whiz with that kind of thing.
“Both of them were really instrumental in helping put the songs together and making sure the feel of the songs was right. I got to see first-hand how much time and effort they put into what they do. Both of those guys have worked extremely hard to get to the stage of their careers that they are at. We spent many late nights staying up to three or four in the morning trying to get lyrics to a song right and making sure that every song was given 125 per cent.”
Chaisson says that another important lesson learned during the recording process was that overall feeling was more important than perfection, a point driven home to him by Johnson on a few different occasions during the recording process.
“Compared to the record before, everything isn’t so perfect on Broken Hearted Beat. I enjoy records that aren’t technically perfect in all respects and my latest record follows that. It is a very natural recording, flaws and all.”
Although Chaisson doesn’t have his full Morning Fold backing band in tow for his shows with The Trews, he admits the opportunity to perform acoustically couldn’t have been better timed, especially since these shows feature the headliners in an acoustic format as well.
“One of my band mates just had a baby and another is building a house so with this tour being acoustic-based and only really needing me and Tian to be here, it couldn’t have worked out better in terms of timing.”
Article published November 19, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript