The designation of “home” doesn’t have to be relegated to a single locale. For Jenny Berkel, the word has come to describe the pastoral quiet of her first domicile in rural Ontario, the hustle of Toronto, the often underrated gems of Winnipeg and now Montréal, which is technically her home base these days.
“I love cities, but whenever I leave a city I sort of immediately feel this release of tension, so I end up constantly out of the city,” she says over the phone from the Niagara region of Ontario. “I’ve been back and forth between Ontario and Montréal for the last six months—like, lots. Right now that’s why I’m in Ontario: my band is also based in Ontario mostly right now. I’m leaving for tour next week, so we’re here trying to do some video work and stuff like that.”
The connection Berkel has to each of her adopted hometowns permeates her latest album, Pale Moon Kid, an emotive, dream-like record that serves as a follow-up to her critically praised debut, Here On A Wire (2012). Berkel notes that she strives to write plenty of imagery into her songs, and the topics and places populating Pale Moon Kid are often viewed through mnemonic lenses.
“I think I get really nostalgic about all the places that I leave behind, even if when I was in that place I didn’t feel like it was the place for me to be,” she explains. “Above all other places I would say Winnipeg is the place I miss most. It’s the place I certainly invested in the most as an adult, and it’s where I wrote my first song. It’s where I played my first concert. It’s where I started doing what I’m doing now.”
Winnipeg is admittedly not the most obvious choice from her list, but Berkel credits its rich music scene for helping her get started. She notes that she’s a “late bloomer” in her foray into folk music, having grown up listening to Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan and Celine Dion—the only radio station she had access to during her formative years had them on repeat. After moving to Winnipeg, she was exposed to folk music and other artists working in the genre.
“I dated a folk musician when I first lived there, and it was shortly after we parted ways that I decided I wanted to start writing songs,” she recalls. “I’d always written poetry, but I suddenly realized I could blend the two things that I loved the most.”
Berkel chose to team up with Daniel Romano to produce the album, and help bring her vision for Pale Moon Kid to realization. A noted musician in his own right, Romano and Berkel met several years ago through mutual connections, and Berkel has since toured as a member of Romano’s band.
“The music I write is not the same as the music Dan writes at all, but I think he’s really good at listening,” she says. “He’s very creative and good at seeing what a song needs and going with that. I’ve known him as a producer since before I met him, and I’ve always been a big fan of what he does.”
Wed, Jun 8 (8 pm)