Going a good 179 degrees away from the sounds of Derelict profiled last week, Seattle, please give a warm welcome to Toronto-based indie acoustic jazz singer, Larra Skye! Larra is a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter who has performed in Canada, France and Spain, and is working on her next album of original folk pop material, due in 2011. Larra also likes books and bicycles.
Here is some breezy Q&A to help you get to know Larra a little better:
Q: You are quite young, what has led you towards on Jazz music and away from standard pop rock or indie rock?
Larra: I started out writing and playing folk songs on my guitar at age 13, and while in university began working with a crazy-talented jazz pianist which helped to shape my style. When it became time to make a studio album, we went for an organic, live-off-the-floor sound with some great Canadian jazz musicians. My new album which I’m working on will be more electric guitar and more alt-pop. It’s all original music, just different labels. For the Seattle show at Egan’s on the 23rd, I’ll be playing guitar and singing a mix of old and new.
Q: Who are some of your influences or just overall favorite musicians? What is the song you could listen to over and over?
Larra: For vocal jazz, I love Mel Torme and Dianne Reeves. They have beautiful voices. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Black (Pixies), Band of Horses, and Fleetwood Mac. I love Al Green. I could listen to Aimee Mann’s cover of “One” from the Magnolia soundtrack on repeat. Great song with great production. Melancholic = my favorite style of art.
Q: Your parents owned a book store, and you love to read – has being so steeped in literature influenced your music, especially lyrics?
Larra: Until I moved away to university, the bookstore was my wonderful songwriting space at night, since our family lived above the shop. It was quiet, and the perfect place for lyric-writing. My songs are never solely based on true stories or people; I take inspiration from poetry, passages in novels, etc. Literature is my first love.
Q: It has been a while since your debut album, what made you decide to tour on an album that has been out for a while?
Larra: Well, I’ve never played in Seattle before. Or in the U.S. at all. So the music will be new to most people. I’m excited to play songs from my record and also new ones that will be on my second album. It helps for when I’m back in the studio; to see what songs are the crowd favorites, and to work out the arrangements in a live setting.
Q: How long have you been vegan and why?
Larra: I’ve been a proud vegan for one year this September, and vegetarian since I was about 14. For over ten years I was slowly working up the courage to finally go vegan. Then I fell in love with a vegan, moved in with him, and a year later, I became vegan. It’s the best and healthiest decision I’ve ever made. I can’t believe I ate dairy and eggs for so many years; I can’t go back.
Q: Does being vegan influence your music or your song writing?
Larra: I’ve got a song for the next record which discusses the idea of constantly putting things off (it’s called “Let’s Talk About It Later”) when it comes to environmental responsibility. Songs specifically about being vegan haven’t entered the repertoire yet, but I’m sure it affects my writing. I feel like I have more energy since becoming vegan, especially creative energy.
Q: Are Seattle and Portland your only U.S. Dates? What made you decide to dip on down here?
Larra: Yes, the only U.S. dates so far. I had the Vancouver show booked (Sept 30 at the Cellar Jazz Club), and definitely wanted to play in Seattle and in Portland. I know that both of these cities are very vegan-friendly.
Q: What is the vegan scene in Toronto like? Do you know Melanie Pyves and her Vegan Fashion Blog, The Streets I Know)?
Larra: Toronto is good, and getting better all the time. We have a few raw restaurants, vegan poutine (made with Daiya cheese), some great health food stores, vegan Mexican food at one of my favorite restaurants (Rancho Relaxo), lots of Chinese food, etc. Yeah, I really like Melanie ‘s vegan fashion blog.
Q: Are you familiar with Seattle and Portland’s reputations for being vegan havens? Any place you are going to make sure you get to?
Larra: Yes, it seems that these two cities have really established vegan communities. When I’m back home in Toronto, I’ll resume the healthy vegan diet. But while I’m here, it’s vegan ice cream, donuts, fry food – stuff I don’t normally eat. There are so many places to try. In Seattle I’d like to try the breakfast at Wayward Cafe. And I can’t wait to have a vegan donut at Mighty-O – I’ll go for the Sprinkles one. At night, a visit to the vegan bar, Highline. A fresh juice at Healeo. In Portland I’ll try breakfast at Vita Café. I’ll have to make a lunchtime visit to the Homegrown Smoker BBQ cart, and try the molasses cornbread with my combo.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the Seattle vegan community?
Larra: We’re doing a CD giveaway right now, and entry to the show on Sep 23! The contest runs until Monday, September 20 at 8 pm PST. I’m doing the giveaway in tandem with the woman behind my favorite vegan purse, Crystalyn Kae from Seattle. Here’s the blog post here – just comment before 8 pm Monday Sept, 20 for a chance to win. Thanks Seattle & Portland – can’t wait to meet you. 🙂
Larra Skye performs Bill Withers’ tune “Ain’t No Sunshine” with a fantastic band at Jamboree in Barcelona, April 2010.
Thanks for taking time to answer all of these questions Larra! I hope the entire Seattle folk jazz scenes finds there way out to see her Thursday night. Follow Larra on twitter to stay in the loop.