Royal Wood expands horizons

With the help of his guitarist, Wood produced the bulk of the tracks featured on The Waiting. For three of the album’s tracks however, Wood enlisted the services of producer Pierre Marchand who has produced artists including Sarah McLachlan and Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Though Wood admits that he would have loved Marchand to oversee his complete record, Marchand had limited time to work with him so Wood simply took what he could get from the prolific producer.

“I have always self-produced and self-arranged my material in the past and played the vast majority of the instruments on each of my records so it was kind of a scary time just to finally let go of the reigns,” Wood admits.

“For the most part though at the end of each day, I knew we had something greater than the sum of our parts. It takes a lot of trust to let that control go and was why I had picked Pierre to work with in the first place.

“I wanted to go with someone I really respected. I remember the first time I heard his production work on Rufus Wainwright’s record Poses, it was unlike anything I had heard before. I was so impressed with it that I decided that I wanted to work with Pierre.”

Wood’s interest in music dates back to the time that he was four years old, stating that while some children gravitate towards hockey, he gravitated towards music, even at such an early age.

“I think playing music is what I was naturally supposed to do. I was drawn to anything that had a melody when I was growing up; I played piano by ear and ended up playing a lot of different instruments. Thankfully, my parents recognized the talent and put me into lessons so that I could understand what it was I was doing and communicate that with others.”

When talk turns to the effect that having songs placed in television shows can have upon your career, Wood says that he considers television to be the new radio in terms of exposing new artists to mass audiences.

“Radio is changing and a singer-songwriter like me doesn’t really have a home on radio. If it wasn’t for CBC in Canada, I wouldn’t be on the radio at all.

“Having song placements in television episodes leads to having an increased profile and increased awareness of your music. You tend to see huge spikes in YouTube videos of a song if there is a video aligned with it. Sales-wise though, you see a bit of a bump in terms of that specific song but it doesn’t necessarily lead to a big chunk of sales,” he says.

“I still believe in the power of the concept record though; I have always attempted to make them. I put a lot of thought, work and effort behind not only the melody and lyrics of the tracks but also the sequence of the songs.

“I still respect the concept of the single but I myself love the emotional journey of buying a record and listening to it from start to finish. But looking at my sales tracking, it is singles based; it is not for entire record sales.”

Last year was an impressive one for Wood, one that saw his latest record recognized by iTunes Canada as Top Pop Album of the Year. More recently, Royal Wood was nominated for Songwriter of the Year at the Juno Awards held earlier this month.

Although the singer-songwriter did not leave the ceremony with the coveted trophy, he admits that this year’s ceremony seemed to be special for many reasons.

“It was exciting and an honour to be a part of it,” he says. “This year’s awards ended up having the largest television viewership in Juno history; I am not sure if that was because Arcade Fire was performing or what but either way, there was something about it that made it very exciting.”

Asked whether he believes the increase in television viewership is a sign of Canadians coming around to recognize our abundant talent, Royal Wood admits that he is not so sure that is the case.

“I think it is a very Canadian way of life thing to not always back our own until another country gives their stamp of approval. By nature, we are a humble and relatively quiet nation and we do not tend to celebrate our talent unless the rest of the world does. That being said though, I would much rather be a part of a humble nation than a loud mouth nation though.”

Royal Wood will be performing at Moncton’s Plan B Lounge on Wednesday evening starting at 9 p.m.

Article published in April 22, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript