You gotta go there to come back

Kaley Bird returns to Edmonton, in terms of both residence and music

No place like homeNo place like home

For those who inhabit the city of Edmonton, the relationship that develops with the place is a tumultuous one, but it’s still home.

Kaley Bird grew up in the City of Champions, firmly planting personal and musical roots along the way. Music became a full-time venture for Bird in her early 20s before she moved into the realm of presenting and promoting music for other artists, needing a break from touring her own material. A career change led her to Calgary in 2011, marking the first time Bird had lived outside Edmonton.

Despite the change of scenery, her hometown stuck with her and crept into the lyrics of her latest album Don’t Say You’re Sorry. The reflective, genre-bending disc touches on the notoriously cold winters that plague Edmonton for much of the year, the people who have shaped Bird’s life here such as long-time friend Matt Cook (a portion of proceeds from album sales will go to the Matt Cook Foundation) and there’s even the occasional reference to local landmarks like the High Level Bridge, which actually gets to be its own song title.

“Everyone has this weird relationship, I think, with their home town or where they grew up,” says Bird, a staunch arts advocate who has worked for the Art Gallery of Alberta, Alberta Culture Days and the Edmonton Chamber Music Society and SOS Fest. “Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, when I grow up I’m going to get out of here and go on to bigger and better things.”

Some time away from Edmonton made Bird realize her love for the city and its vibrant arts and music communities—two factors that drew her back to the place, where she has been able to hone her musical abilities and receive both nurturing and a little tough love.

Bird was not performing a great deal during her time in Calgary, but music was never far from her mind as she continued to write new material. The time away from a full-time music career allowed her to refocus; Bird admits she always took the results of personal and professional endeavours very personally, but says she isn’t so worried about the results these days, a step she credits as simply being part of growing up.

“I really love to play and that for me is the most important thing, and I love creating and I love writing, so no matter what happens I am always going to be doing that,” she adds.

Bird has also been able to own her sound more, making a transition from the somewhat apologetic state in which she created her first album.

“It was like I was making excuses for the album before people even heard it,” Bird says, acknowledging that despite her insecurities the album did well, garnering steady play on CKUA and CBC. “I was very unsure of myself when I was recording and performing for that matter, and just kind of coming around and playing more and being more confident in my sound and knowing that not everyone’s going to like me and I don’t have to make excuses for that. This is what I sound like; this is what my music is. You can either like it or you don’t, but I’m going to stop making excuses at this point. I’m really proud of this album. It sounds like me; it’s a great reflection of where I am right now.”

Fri, Jan 10 (7:30 pm)
With F & M
Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre, $10 – $20

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