From the Archives: Erin Costelo

Powerhouse singer-songwriter Erin Costelo returns to Newfoundland for a trio of shows this August (Aug. 24 at The Ship in St. John’s, Aug. 25 at Norton’s Cove Studio and Cafe in Brookfield and Aug.26 in Grates Cove Studio in Grates Cove).

In preparation for her return, The Herald dives into its archives and uncovers our most recent chat with the soulful vocalist from June of 2016 (June 5-11, 2016 issue).


 You’re heading here for a couple of shows across the island this June. Excited?

I’m really excited to come back. I played last year, but just in St. John’s. We actually went out to Two Whales in Port Rexton and did a show there as well, but just those two shows. It’s nice to come with a couple of more. I think it will be really fun. And I have a new record out, which is really exciting.

 That’s excellent! I know you have quite a connection to this place. Though that’s not much of a surprise considering the culture, musically and otherwise here and in Nova Scotia virtually go hand in hand.

 I think so. I always say that if there were any other place in the world that I would have to live it would be in Newfoundland. That would be the only other place in Canada that I would want to go. And every time I go the people are just so warm and nice and they’re really music lovers, which is really great. It’s really palpable, especially in St. John’s. Musicians support other musicians in such a great way and that happens in Halifax too. So it does feel like I’m going to my second home in a way.

 That’s absolutely an East Coast thing with this close, open door policy we have. It’s such a tight-knit artistic and musical community.

Absolutely. It feels really great to go there. In fact I’m going to play with a couple of Newfoundland musicians, a bass player (Craig Follett) and a drummer (Elliot Dicks) who are going to play in the band with me and back me up while I’m there in St. John’s. We played together last year and it was so much fun. I’m really looking forward to doing it again with these guys.

 You have a brand new album which you released in March, Down Below The Status Quo, which has received pretty fantastic reviews thus far. What’s your thoughts on the record in the weeks and months following its release?

I’m really really proud of it. It’s been really great to get to tour this record with more musicians with me. I’ve toured it with a full band for the most part out in Ontario and some shows in Quebec and a bunch out on the East Coast. Then I went over to Europe and toured over there for the past three weeks. It’s been really great and fun. It’s always really fun to bring new material to people … when you create an album you have so many colours at your disposal, and then when you go to perform it live you kind of have to re-work them and re-create them. 

There’s a little bit of a creative birth going on all over again, so the songs become fresh again. It’s great and I’m really looking forward to getting over to Newfoundland and playing these songs there.

 I know you’re extremely hands on when it comes to the making of an album, with a hand in production, arranging, songwriting, etc. That must add a whole new level of appreciation to the finished product?

I think so. I’ve pretty much done it this way from the beginning, so I guess I don’t know any other way to do it. It feels really great to get as close as possible to the sound in your head.

Things happen and things change through the recording process, so you have to be kind of malleable, but when you get to hear back something that’s going on in your brain fully realized with strings and background singers and horns it’s really exciting to hear it back. I’m really grateful to all the musicians who played on the record. I couldn’t have made it without them.

 What were some of the more major influences that have influenced you musically?

Oh man there are so many. People like Carole King and Dr. John. A lot of soul songwriters I really love. I really love Willie Nelson. He’s one of my favourite songwriters and I don’t think it necessarily comes out in my music. He’s one of the most creative forces for music for so many decades, it’s really inspiring and the songs that he’s written are just unbelievable. I just hope to have as long as a career as him or Carole King. They’re great inspirations.

 You’ve had your fair share of successes. What would be some advice you’d hand out to an aspiring singer-songwriter?

I think I would advice them to not lose their curiousity, to constantly be curious and to listen to as many types of music as possible. If you’re a writer just keep writing because it only gets better. I’d advise them to be friends with their music compadres. Go out to shows and really embrace the music scene in your home. That’s what did it for me. I moved back to Nova Scotia in 2004 or 5 and the music community really embraced me. I wouldn’t be where I am without my friends from the east coast. I think that can make a huge difference. It also inspires you to, other people’s work, and that’s important.

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