Would you have the confidence to throw away something you’ve worked on for more than a year and start over from scratch? Australian singer-songwriter Kim Churchill spent 18 months labouring on his sixth album. It was finished, mastered and in the hands of his record label. They loved it. But Churchill?
“It didn’t really communicate honesty and things that I was feeling and I think part of that was just how hard I was trying—I think I choked the whole thing to death,” Churchill says, his tour van travelling somewhere between Toronto and Montreal. “Honestly, the thing that really tipped me was the record labels accepting it. They said it’s great and we’re looking at releasing it … I thought they were wrong.”
Churchill pushed himself to write a whole new album in a week, a Herculean task of creativity and focus. But the songs were waiting.
“When you lie to yourself for a long enough amount of time, when you finally come clean you get this wonderful, unadulterated bit of honesty,” Churchill says. “I had this really euphoric, enlightened feeling of really understanding who I was and what I wanted to say.”
The result of binning a whole record and rewriting a new one in a week is Weight_Falls. The new album is considerably more dynamic than his previous music, incorporating more texture and layers than his established bluesy neo-folk. Churchill, almost exclusively a one-man band until now, is touring with two drummers who sing harmony. It’s a new, full presence that reflects his growing range.
The 27-year-old Aussie has built his career on making honest connections. He started busking young, stopping traffic with his gritty harmonica playing and rich voice. He’s since grown into a festival-circuit favourite, playing hit songs on big stages. But Churchill still makes time to busk, even though he could easily play rooms full of ticket-buying fans.
“The ego is there telling you to stop, because it hurts the ego so badly performing to nobody and have people looking at you like you’re more or less a homeless person asking for money,” he says. “But it’s really cool because it silences the ego, and the music that you perform transcends it a little bit. I think that’s another reason that I really love [busking]: it drags you back to earth.”
Churchill, thoughtful and self-aware in conversation, seems wise beyond his years. That could be because he’s already had a full lifetime’s worth of experiences traveling the world. He’s watched the sunset off the Sri Lankan coast and breathed the crisp, thin air of the Peruvian Andes. And he has a special spot in his heart for Canada, recording two albums in British Columbia.
Churchill says spending time immersed in different cultures inspires his art—makes him want to understand the world as well as he can and to share that honestly through his music.
“That’s what everyone wants to feel, essentially, is like what they’re feeling matters,” he says. “That how they see the world and how they think—that it means something. And that kind of stuff is just great to help you inject songs with that truth that allows people to feel that.”
Thu., Mar. 8 (8 pm)
Kim Churchill w/ Christian Hudson, and guests