SIX foot high snow banks don’t scare Australian songsmith Kim Churchill. In fact, he’s more than excited to be back on frozen Canadian ground. The 27 year old Aussie musician plays Crocks on March 5, with Alberta singer/songwriter Christian Hudson as part of Churchill’s cross-country tour, and he’ll be bringing some of his friends (and band mates) from down under along for the snowy ride.
A lovely, cheerful voice on the other end of an in-coming phone call from a funny area code, sings the praises of my hometown.
“It will be wonderful to be back in Canada this time of year, it’s one of the most beautiful things,” Churchill said. “I’m very excited to get back to Thunder Bay, it’s a really cool stop.”
Churchill started building a relationship with Northwestern Ontario years ago, when he played the annual folk/roots Live from the Rock Festival in Red Rock.
“They were one of the first festivals to book me to play, I was 18 years old,” he said. “I was billeted out in the woods. We stayed for a few days and we made quite a few friends. I’m hoping they’ll come out to the show.”
Churchill called the promoter Frank Loffredo a “walking legend.”
“When you’re doing those cross Canada runs you need to play a few stops and Thunder Bay is one of them and Frank is a part of that,” he added.
Churchill returns to the airwaves with his latest accomplishment, the full-length album Weight - Falls, which has hit well over a million streams on Spotify. Released via Cadence Music, it’s the follow-up to 2014’s breakout record Silence/Win. Churchill calls his most recent works, “a new stage of my song writing.”
While his first attempt at the follow-up took 18 months, it was a little too polished and predictable. Like his trademark head of wildly sun-kissed locks, he needed to rough it up a bit. Round two feverishly began and was completed in only one week. The record label thought Churchill was, going crazy.
Who scraps an entire album last minute and decides to start over? Kim Churchill does, that’s who.
“I was trying too hard, that was the major issue,” he said.
Plagued with personal doubt from the beginning, Churchill feared he couldn’t follow up the next album strongly enough. He explained how those feelings led to second guessing, adding “layers of paint to make it this thing of beauty.”
“I choked the songs to death through my own desperation. The record label was happy but I felt fear that I had to release it. The process was wrong. Now I write songs that make me happy, record them, and get on with my career,” he said.
Churchill credits two years of growing-up and evolving for his shift in sound. While some may turn to travelling for personal growth, Churchill needed to stand still. He stopped traveling, something he hadn’t done since he was a teenager and had toured for six years straight.
“I think I built up this quiet, frenetic intensity. I had to keep moving, I wasn’t calm, I was high strung,” he said. “I started to enjoy the process of life and not be constantly trying to push ahead and start the next adventure. I’ve learned to sit back and enjoy the ride.”
He’s been called a folk, rock and blues artist. But which description suits him best? Well, at the end of the day, it’s all centered around an acoustic guitar. Churchill admits that folky-pop is a go-to term, but that high energy pop music best describes his current state.
As for his writing muse, the roads travelled provided little inspiration.
“When I’m touring I try not to force myself to write, it’s a very scheduled environment,” said the musician. “Every hour on tour is planned out. If I try to write songs on tour they have a stringent structure to them, a lot of ideas come to me during sound checks.”
With burgeoning social media numbers and on-line supporters, Churchill has garnered a reputation for his lyrical honesty and infectious stage presence. Thunder Bay will absorb a ray of Aussie sunshine on March 5 at Crocks, with Christian Hudson. Tickets will be available at the door.
Angie Valente is a freelance journalist based in Thunder Bay.