Hilary Grist pairs her music with visual elements from e-cards to stop-motion videos

Grist going beyond her Imaginings // Jennifer Picard
Grist going beyond her Imaginings // Jennifer Picard

“I felt like I was kind of like this kid in a candy shop,” Vancouver-based songstress Hilary Grist recalls of crafting her debut album, Imaginings. 

That euphoric and uninhibited sense of freedom meant Grist threw all kinds of elements into her songs, whether it was a string section or a marching band.

“It was like every song was its own little world,” she adds. “It was fun, but in the end it did feel maybe a little bit eclectic, so this time it was kind of purposely limited in a way.”

Not to say Grist pulled back entirely on her sophomore release, Come & Go. There are still the odd string arrangements, but the overall instrumentation stays true to what you’ll find during one of Grist’s live shows with her four-piece band, plus some added synths to bring in sounds that would “open up the space a little bit more,” but keep the tracks rooted in the same sonic palette of art-pop-meets-jazz.

Just as the melodies on Come & Go are more cohesive, the lyrics driving them are connected through a sense of duality.

“You hit this point in your life and now there’s enough people younger than you and older than you and you’ve had a chance to see things start and things end, and life’s kind of taken on a little bit more depth, too, and almost more enjoyment,” says Grist, noting that while it may sound cliché, you also realize you’re not as invincible as you once thought you were. “There’s a sense of that, I guess, so I feel like some of the songs are coming out of making sense of some of those, like losing a few people in my life and new, great experiences too.”

As Grist’s sound continues to develop, so does the visual element of her music, whether it’s in the form of e-cards or hand-drawn music videos. Her most recent video, a film-noir-inspired piece for the song “Waltzing Matilda” was nominated for Video of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.

“If you asked me when I was six what I wanted to do I would have said I wanted to be a cartoonist or an artist or something like that,” says Grist, who taught herself how to do stop-motion videos in her apartment alongside husband and collaborator Michael Southworth. “I really like the process and everything, and having something really visual, especially nowadays with the whole interweb Internet sort of stuff, it’s like having a way to share your music that’s visual is, I think, becoming more and more important.” 

Thu, Jul 3
With Dominique Fricot
Cha Island Tea Co



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