Julie Doiron has found herself living the stuff of a good country song. Woke Myself Up, Doiron’s 7th Polaris-nominated full length on Jaguwar Records, is a 30-minute saga detailing Doiron’s domestic bliss—and angst—as a mother of three and touring musician in Sackville, New Brunswick, recorded after the disillusion of her marriage to illustrator Jon Claytor. Produced by ex-boyfriend Rick White and featuring a restored roster of Julie’s former Eric’s Trip bandmates, it is Doiron’s most vulnerable work to date, no small feat for her usual lo-fi fare.
“When I was writing these songs, I was happy to be in my home, happily married, happy not be on tour, happy to be alive. Most of these songs aren’t even about relationships, they’re about being sick of the music business. Everyone has this idea that my album is about a relationship going wrong, but it’s more about not wanting to be a touring musician, to stay in my nice house, plant things in my garden. And for years I’ve tried to make that happen, but then someone offers me a good tour and I go,”said Doiron, her voice froggy and strained by a bad cold, late Friday afternoon over the phone.
A demanding schedule placed Julie in the precarious position of touring constantly to support a family she rarely saw.
“I guess it does seem like it’s about a relationship going wrong, and maybe in a sense it was. It was my relationship to what I was doing, my marriage failed because I was touring musician, and most of my songs are pretty much about that when I think about each one…When you really think about it, I’m a mom now, I have three kids, and this is my job.”
A job that Julie has been diligently working towards since unexpectedly playing bass in Eric’s Trip, one of the first bands to be signed to Sub Pop igniting the Halifax pop explosion in the early 90’s who recently played a small reunion tour across Eastern Canada. Since slipping away to record solo work under then-insightful moniker Broken Girl, Doiron’s hushed vocals often reveal the painful, desperate moments of love and loss (occasionally in French, such as 2001’s Desormais). And when it comes to indie, Doiron is the anti-Feist—raw, effusive and shockingly real.
“The whole thing about the Polaris is that it’s supposed to be for the best album of the year. I think there’s a few artists or albums nominated that are doing just fine on their own. And while it’s good to bring attention to the other lesser-known nominees, artists who are already doing just fine internationally probably don’t need the prize.”
“It’s a unique experience to be nominated for something that seemingly garners so much attention from the press. All of a sudden CBC is playing Polaris nominees all the time, the Globe and Mail is writing profiles about me. I feel happy about it, ‘cause I never imagined when they called me that’s what they’d be calling me about. It’s more the possibility or the idea of what I’d do with the money. To be honest— I’m trying not to think about it too much,” she admits.
Julie Doiron headlines Ladyfest this Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Tranzac. Ladyfest was started in 2000 in Olympia, Washington, spearheaded by riot grrls Neko Case, Cat Power and Sleater- Kinney. Toronto’s Ladyfest runs from Thursday, September 27 to September 30, and features music performances, video screenings and live theatre. Visit ladyfesttoronto.ca for more info.