The East Pointers Move Forward

Photo Credit: Jen Squires

Between their sweep of awards and nominations, it's been a whirlwind year for The East Pointers on accolades alone. With their latest record What We Leave Behind, the band invited writer and producer Gordie Sampson into the mix to make an album that was a broad and new frontier for them as a band. We had a chat with Koady Chaisson of The East Pointers ahead of their February 18 show at the NAC to talk about their crazy nominations, working with Sampson and why working with traditional genres is actually an advantage.

Ottawa Life: You have been nominated for a lot of awards over the last year (Junos, ECMA, Canadian Folk Music Award), is this just a confidence boost for you or does it mean something different at this point in your career?

Koady Chaisson: I think it’s always nice to have your work recognized. We try not to read too much into awards and accolades though, there are so many amazingly talented artists in this country doing beautiful things, we’re just getting lucky.

Gordie Sampson is a great songwriter in his own right so how was it co-writing with him on tracks like "Two Weeks”?

Writing with Gordie was a dream come true. He’s got such an incredible resume with Grammy’s, JUNO’s, AMA’s, countless East Coast Music Awards. He’s the perfect mix of talent and personality, he’s hilarious and has one of the best sets of ears in the business. He’s the coolest.

What did Sampson bring to the recording as a producer, and did they bring a different energy on this side of things?

He brought a lifetime of experience to both of the things that we do in our live show. He’s living in Nashville song writing at the moment but a lot of people might not know that he grew up playing east coast tunes and has played on and produced records for a pretty impressive list of traditional musicians, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac to name drop a few. He was such a perfect fit for us.

What was the biggest change you wanted to make between Secret Victory and What We Leave Behind?

The biggest step up was working with Gordie. He took the songs and tunes and brought them to new life. Right from the get go we were all on the same page about what kind of record we wanted to make. We added pieces and layers but not too much that it couldn’t be replicated live. We’re happy with how it all turned out.

What do you feel like the biggest challenge is trying to blend traditional music and folk together now?

The biggest challenge is trying to break down the misconception that traditional music isn’t ‘hip’ or that it is just for an older generation. As a band we’ve made a lot of progress over the last few years drawing out new listeners. We had a girl from Australia message us to say that she got a phone call from her grandmother wondering if they could go to one of our shows together. She thought it was hilarious and we took it as a huge compliment.

How did the concept for the "Two Weeks" video come about and how much involvement did you have?

We had a couple of Skype calls with the director of the video Jenna MacMillan from Tiny Town Productions and discussed some general ideas but for the most part we pretty much let her run with it. She’s super talented and we’ve loved working with her in the past so we trusted her to create something moving and beautiful. We think she did a great job!

Considering the range of influences your music comes from, how did your live show develop into the mayhem it is now?

This style of music has been getting people up on dance floors for hundreds of years. We’re just putting our own spin on it. Upbeat instrumental dance music and songs that are a bit more on the thought provoking side. A good show should always take you on a bit of a journey and leave you feeling happier than when you arrived, we try our best to accomplish that every night!