Puremusic: First, let me say that I doubt that a better folk CD than Firecracker is going to emerge from your country or mine this year.
Annabelle Chvostek: Oh, wow, thank you. That's a huge compliment.
PM: Yeah, it is, because we know how many records are coming out. And I loved Forty Days. I was a very big fan of Forty Days, but I think this is an even better record.
AC: Oh, well, thank you.
PM: It's always apples and oranges, of course, but I mean, we're very into the Wailin' Jennys at Puremusic. We've reviewed the last couple, and interviewed Nicky Mehta after Forty Days came out.
So, if you'll indulge me, I'm really interested as a deep fan of the group, how they made this difficult transition so providentially. Be so kind as to take me through how Nicky and Ruth actually found you, and how it all came together.
AC: Sure. Well--
PM: You know I asked specifically to speak to you.
AC: I got that message from Jill, so it's great.
AC: Well, I got a call from them when I was sort of on tour in Montreal last summer, doing the solo thing. And they had heard about me. I had heard actually that they had lost one of their members, and I didn't know what was going to happen. We're all songwriters on the scene, so I knew who they were--
PM: Of course.
AC: --and I had actually run into them in Nashville, of all places, at the Folk Alliance Conference. I didn't meet them officially at that point, but sort of saw them do a showcase, and so on. And I had friends who had opened for them in Victoria, so I'd seen them play as well. I had a good idea of who they were, and how professional they were. So they called me up and said that they were looking for someone. They called a whole pile of Canadian songwriters who they thought might fit the bill. But they apparently had a pretty good feeling about me from the beginning. They had sort of called some other peers of ours, Trish from the Be Good Tanyas, she has another band called--I don't know if you know that band, but--
PM: Po' Girl, yeah.
AC: Yeah, exactly.
PM: I've interviewed the Tanyas, too.
AC: Right. As a solo artist, I'd opened up for them, and we'd hung out a bit. So she'd thought about it and was like, "You know, Annabelle could do it."
AC: "You should definitely go for Annabelle." So they heard that from her, and she's someone that everyone in this scene respects. And then our producer, David Travers-Smith, had also done web searches for people, and came across me on the web, and had told the girls about me through that. So they had a few different people, and heard about me from a few different sources. So they had a pretty good feeling.
And yeah, I was just at a point where--they had this opportunity for me to jump on board on tour. I didn't have anything booked for that period of time, and I didn't know what it would lead to, really. So they called me up, and I went to Toronto to meet them. We had breakfast [laughs] and we did some singing together.
PM: Was that nerve wracking, or was it cool, or--
AC: Well, it was both. It was kind of like--
PM: It's a lot of pressure, really, you know?
AC: Yeah, I mean, I was like, "Wow, I never thought that I would do something like this." So there was part of me that was like, "Well, I have these plans as a solo artist, and this will be a total switch." So I was sort of like, "Wow, this is an amazing opportunity, I really want to do this," and also like, "Hmm, what is this thing? I don't know if this fits into my plans."
PM: Right. "I got all these plans for myself. On the other hand, these women have dates all over the world..."
AC: Yeah. And that was a lovely thing. Also they actually had a team that I could--our manager, Jack, I had sort of developed a relationship with him through festival distribution, and was keen on working with him even before knowing the band. So it was just like, "This just makes sense." And so we met. They called me a week later, and were like, "Do you want to join our band?" [laughs] They had a think about it, but they--well, they even called me that night after they got together, and it was like, "We haven't heard a blend like this before." It was just all very positive.
PM: Wow. "Do you want to join our band?"
PM: That's so great.
AC: And at that point, I had met them, and listened to the music a lot, and had a good experience of singing with them, and it was just like, "Gosh, now I really want to do it, so please call me fast." And then they did. And it was like, "Okay. Let's go."
AC: So within a couple of weeks I was in Winnipeg, and we were doing this two-week crash rehearsal period where I was learning all the material. And we were having these crazy, long, sixteen-hour rehearsals and stuff. [laughs] But there was a lot of good energy there. We laughed a lot. It really was a good thing.
PM: It had to be hard to crash all that--cram all that vocal arrangement stuff and all the words, and all the "Okay, what am I going to play on this song?" I mean, there's so much to join a group like that. The vocal arrangements are so extensive, and you got to come up with new parts.
AC: Yeah. It was very intense. But the vocals were always easy, too. Like I mean the words, yeah, it's hard to learn words and stuff. But the actual arranging, it just falls together, really.
AC: When we arrange songs, it just happens really naturally. So that was the magical serendipitous thing. It was like, "Okay, this just works." And it's what people love, and it's easy, it's fun.
PM: And it almost had to be that way vocally for them both to go, "Okay, she's the one." That part of it kind of had to come together magically; isn't that so?
AC: Yes. continue