Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review Fix Exclusive Interview

Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Norine Braun, who discusses her new album, “Gone to the Spirits” and the unique inspiration behind it.
Review Fix: What was your creative process like for this album?

Norine Braun: 
The process for writing this album was one of 20 years and was the longest
one yet! The idea for this album first came to me when a friend of mine was in graduate school doing a master’s in archaeology. He was studying the journals of explorers in western Canada and kept coming across Gone To The Spirits and told me of her story. He thought I should write a song about her and I was so amazed by her life I thought her worthy of a whole
album at least and was not yet ready to write that album. I have matured and grown as a person and a songwriter and felt ready to write her story in song. Upon completion of the recording I wanted to deepen the understanding for the listener and decided to write a short story to further explain my vision of Gone To The Spirit’s incredible life journey. The short story is read aloud at the end of the album.
Review Fix: What do you think makes it special?
Braun: What makes it special is that few people know of this Ktunaxa warrior woman from the early 1800s. Very few women of the fur trade or First Nations women are written about or known of. The fact that Gone To Spirits transitions gender is also very timely and is interesting to see how older cultures embraced differences.
Review Fix: Is there a song that stands out for you?  
Braun: That is difficult to say as each song is important in the telling of her story. Morning Prayer is more a chant song as there is no bridge or chorus. The music is a sublime ideal in what is prayer? How does prayer sound and feel and what is grace? In my research for this album I spoke with a Yaqan Nukiy elder who told me of his custom to begin each day with a morning song and end each day with an evening song. To me this is prayer and the elder was taught this practice by his grandmother. I thought perhaps Gone To The Spirits also followed this ritual coming from the same area. I wondered too what would people pray for over 200 years ago and the more I reflected, I thought for the same things we pray for today and thus formed the basis of the lyrics.
Review Fix: What was the creative process behind it? Is there a story?
Braun: The creative process was one of research and reading. I was awarded a Canada Council of the Arts to write the album in 6 months. I visited several museums and archives in Vancouver, Calgary, Cranbrook and CrestonBC.  I met with a Yaqan Nukiy elder and a Ktunaxa archivist as well as an interpretive center guide. Traveling through the area and experiencing southeastern British Columbia helped me express the story as well. Interestingly, my friend who first suggested writing about her in song became the advisor for the project and is also department head at SFU First Nations studies. The project came full circle. The songs center around the engaging and dramatic life story of a legendary two spirited Ktunaxa warrior woman, courier and guide, who lived in the early 19th century in southeastern BC Canada who appeared in the journals of trappers and explorers of the time.
Review Fix: How is this album different from your previous work? 
Braun: This concept album is based completely upon a historical person.  Most of my previous works tended to be about self-exploration, universal themes and life in general. This was very focused and thoughtful with much research and planning.
Review Fix: What have you learned about yourself through this album?
Braun: I learned I love to research and to explore and I am at my best when following my intuition. I realized in this process how dedicated I am to my craft and vision and I am thankful so many people were willing to help me and give me insight into Gone To The Spirits. I originally applied for the award five years prior but was not given the grant. I persisted and it
paid off! I knew it was an important story and deserved to be heard and I never gave up.
Review Fix: How do you want it to be remembered?
Braun: I want it to be remembered as the concept album story about Gone To The Spirits a legendary two-spirited First Nations warrior woman from the early 1800s. I truly hope people will realize there are many stories that are fantastic and amazing from history yet to be told. I hope this serves to inspire other songwriter’s and artists to explore history and create new works.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Braun: As an independent artist who is DIY I will be looking to get the short story published in literary magazines. I am also working with an artist/animator in creating a music video/ film for the album and we are applying for grants and funding to take Gone To The Spirits further. I am currently talking with local musical theatre professionals to help develop this story and the music into a musical as well.

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