After slugging it out independently for his first five records, Winnipeg singer-songwriter J.P. Hoe has hit the figurative bigtime with his latest effort Hideaway.
The record, which hit store shelves earlier this year, was released nation-wide by MapleMusic Recordings, a celebrated independent label that also serves as the home of Nova Scotia’s Don Brownrigg, Sun K, Kathleen Edwards, The River & The Road and more.
In spite of the widely circulated – but often justifiable – horror stories about working with a record label, Hoe says the experience has been nearly as perfect as he could have hoped it would be.
“I don’t know if I’d be able to go back to the complete do-it-yourself world if I had to at this point. I’ve enjoyed the experience of working with a label that much,” he says. “Working with MapleMusic has been the complete opposite of any horror stories I have heard from friends of mine dealing with labels in the past.”
The moment Hoe had an inkling that the label would be a good fit for him and his music?
“When I sent them the 10 songs for the record, expecting them to come back to me with suggested changes, only to have them say nothing. I was ready to fight for my creative rights, but when I didn’t need to do so, I had the sense that working with them wasn’t going to be your ‘typical’ label experience.”
Hoe had carved out a more than respectable career for himself prior to aligning with MapleMusic. He had been on the receiving end of much critical acclaim, especially when it came to his last full-length release, 2012’s Mannequin.
He says it was knowing that record could have perhaps done more that served as the inspiration to give the label world a try for Hideaway.
“I was very happy with the record. I also happened to know, however, that I wasn’t able to make better decisions concerning certain aspects of the record. I was limited to my own experience and personal knowledge of how things work.
“I have nothing in the way of regrets whatsoever, but having a team of people fighting with you to get your music heard certainly is inspiring.”
Some might say Hoe’s ascension to being a part of a record label has been well earned.
Charismatic and casual, Hoe was turned onto celebrated folk artists including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, courtesy of his sister. Following his graduation from his school, Hoe relocated to Europe for a year where he began exploring his capabilities as a songwriter and also had started playing shows. It was after he returned to Canada that he felt inspired to see how far music might be able to take him.
In terms of finding his path on his musical journey, Hideaway marks a natural progression towards pop for Hoe. Bringing in producer Rusty Matyas [The Sheepdogs, Imaginary Cities] to help realize the project, Hoe says that he and Matyas kept the making of Hideaway an intentionally personal affair, playing the majority of the instrumentation heard on the record themselves.
“There was definitely a mutual respect and admiration that we held going into the making of Hideaway which only helped reinforce the whole notion of whatever was going to happen with this record would happen. Whatever the end result turned out to be, I knew it was going to be something special. Rusty and I have always shared a great love of melodies and Beatles-esque pop music. As an artist, however, I have never pursued it to the extent I did on this latest album.
“Rusty naturally accentuated my confidence with the making of this record. He wasn’t afraid of chasing ideas down rabbit holes to see if they had legs without making me feel as though we were losing precious time in the studio. He wanted to ensure that we were looking at virtually each and every idea.”
Asked if he feels content with the end result, Hoe sums up his feelings for Hideaway this way:
“I got to exercise styles of music that I love with this record, so if for some reason my career ended on this album, I could easily live with it being my last one.”
Hoe says one aspect he wanted to ensure Hideaway retained was a feeling of coherency throughout. Acknowledging that the music business of today is largely driven by singles, he wanted to craft his latest record to bring listeners on a journey.
“All of my personal favourite records are journeys that you listen to from start to finish, not by cherry-picking certain songs. That was something I strived to retain with Hideaway. I wanted the album to have a cohesion running throughout the finished product. The fact that this is my first release on vinyl as well makes me happy I was insistent on trying to make the record an experience. Music is a commodity that is taken for granted by so many people. I’d love to think that this record might get people to rethink what music is and can be right now,” Hoe says.
What: J.P. Hoe
When: Wednesday Nov. 11, 9 p.m.
Where: The Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $10, available online at tideandboar.com and at the door.