Saint John musician Erin Muir finds her voice on latest EP, her first for Monopolized Records.
Over the past two years, Saint John songwriter Erin Muir has followed her project Wrote through a number of incarnations. While remaining primarily a solo endeavor with Muir, her guitar and her voice at the forefront, Wrote’s sound has shifted from synth-backed, dreamy pop songs – the kind of sleepy music you’d hope to make up to on a lazy Sunday morning – to more adventurous arrangements that combine traditional instrumentation in unpredictable ways. Through creative partnerships with accomplished co-conspirators Dan Chamberlain (Shrimp Ring) and Evan Matthews (Liken/Tropic Ether), Muir seemed willing to let Wrote find its own path and be defined largely by collaboration.
But that’s all changed now, at least for the time being. On her latest EP, Laid Myself Down Again, Muir has dialed back on collaboration to let her voice and her guitar confidently carry her music forward.
“This recording, as opposed to Each Other’s Skins, feels a lot more coherent and focused,” said Muir. “I had a much clearer vision of what I wanted the final product to sound like.
“I had about a month to prepare for the recording process and I spent a lot of that time listening to some albums that had really inspired me like The Weather Station’s What Am I Going to Do With Everything I Know and Tiny Vipers’ Life On Earth, and I thought of ways I could try to embody the wonder and awe that they instilled in me,” she said. “When I really started to listen closely, I noticed that the arrangements were incredibly sparse but were so effective in moving the songs along. So when it came time to record, we focused on what the song called for, rather than attempting to build something out of the songs.”
This recording finds Muir working with ubiquitous Saint John engineer Corey Bonnevie, who will also be releasing the album via his imprint Monopolized Records. Bonnevie and his south end studio have become an important part of the New Brunswick music landscape yielding a staggering amount of music over the past few years.
Muir cites the studio and its role within the Saint John music community as a major influence on her music and her personal drive to create.
“Working with Corey was a milestone for me because I’ve been astounded – if not a bit intimidated – by his sound sorcery and work ethic,” she said. “I used to spend a lot of time down at that house in the south end wistfully watching all these musicians jamming and recording there and it eventually pushed me to start creating my own music and taking it a bit more seriously. So working on these songs there with him almost felt like I had come full circle. It’s also amazing to see how much work Corey has put into the studio space over the years. It’s grown into a very cool, professional space. I highly recommend him as an engineer and producer. Monopolized Studios is the real deal.”
Laid Myself Down Again is guided entirely by a less-is-more approach. The songs are simple, beautiful and the first to truly showcase Muir’s strengths as a musician and songwriter. With occasional subtle accompaniment from Bonnevie, this recording finds Muir at her most confident.
While Muir remains proud of all she’s accomplished so far with the project, she’s enjoyed the challenge of being more selective in how her songs are structured this time around.
“I learned how to play acoustic guitar,” she said. “I picked it up while demoing these songs and realized that the sound of it was unparalleled to my electric tones. You’ll definitely see more of it, but I’m not going to ditch electric entirely. Especially when playing live.”
Lyrically, the songs on Laid Myself Down Again are also a bit of a departure for Muir, finding balance between cozy nostalgia and the uncertainty of the future.
“I’ve always been a nostalgic, reflective songwriter, but nostalgia is a dangerous road to go down,” she said. “I think Each Other’s Skins was maybe a bit too steeped in the past, or at least that’s where my head was when I was writing those songs. Now I’m more aware of the fluidity of time, looking back and looking forward.
“The past isn’t really one static thing,” she said. “It has many meanings and nuances, and the future is far from static. I think these songs kind of move through that process of realization a bit. Houseplants is the most sorrowful, dwelling song, and it’s all about looking backwards, and feeling stuck and lost in the present. Laid Myself Down Again resolves itself and looks more toward the future, while acknowledging strength gained from difficult experiences. I really hope that the listener can see that growth or progression, whether it’s within the songs on this EP, or between this one and Each Other’s Skins,” she said.
Wrote will be playing a series of release shows this week in support of Laid Myself Down Again with shows in Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton and Sackville.
Laid Myself Down Again comes out December 7 through Monopolized Records.
December 6 | Backstreet Records | Saint John | View Event
December 7 | Café Cest la Vie | Moncton | View Event
December 8 | Café Loka | Fredericton | View Event
December 9 | Thunder & Lightning | Sackville | View Event