Husband and wife duo Land of the Lakes talk inspiring kids in the ways of music, balancing art and family and the evolving creative process
Danielle Hamel and Matthew Thomson are daring to be different in a time where all too many artists are content to play it safe.
The husband and wife pairing, better known by their stage name Land of the Lakes, have been adventurous and creative to their approach to their lives as artists, an effort that has paid off with multiple MusicNL nominations, a Borealis Prize Longlist and selections for the Nickel Independent Film Festival and St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.
Hamel and Thomson released their debut album to praise and fan fare in 2015. Rather than going back to the well that brought them critical success, the pair opted to take a different approach, releasing a kid friendly rock album Pink Rabbit in the winter of 2017.
Hamel shares that the change in direction was partially an effort to involve their children – now four and six –in their musical lives.
“It was partially to show our own kids that you can write a song, here’s how it works and you can follow every step of the way,” Hamel shares.
“It’s an idea, now it’s a song, and it de-mystifies the whole process for them. It personalizes it when you realize that that’s how you do it. It was almost to bring our kids along for that ride. It worked. That RPM was 2017 and then in 2018 our oldest son did his own RPM. From that point on he will have his own ideas for a song, like ‘I can do that’ … It makes it tangible or doable.”
A Family affair
Not only did the change in pace inspire the kids to get active in music, but it actually allowed the parents to involve them in the process, rather than juggle multiple roles.
“Part of me thinks that doing the kids album was a way to juggle it a bit easier and that we could involve them,” says Hamel. “Instead of fighting for free time, it’s like let’s all write a song. Come help, you know the words! It’s the same with the videos, we’ve included the kids. Get Outside and Play I made the video of just them going out and playing. I didn’t need to hire a babysitter, it just fit into our lives better to include them.”
Land of the Lakes recently followed up their highly successful all ages performance in 2017 with a showcase at the LSPU Hall with the acclaimed Banana Vacuum, which features eight year old vocalist Mark Cherwick.
“It was such a success last time,” she said of the initiative. “We filled the room, which was unexpected. You book these shows but you’re not sure. In our experience, anytime you do something for kids, parents are starving to expose their kids more to the arts. As a parent I am. My kids are taking dance recitals. When the Festival of New Dance came through, my son is in dance, you need to see dance, because then you know that this exists out there in the world. You need to see it to want to be it. A place where kids can get exposed to the arts is the whole idea.”
Hamel – who also performs under the award-winning electronic project It Could Be Franky – shared that her musical partnership with Thomson has indeed evolved in over 16 years of collaboration.
“For us it’s a lot of what we know. We’ve been writing albums together since 2002, believe it or not. If you count them all up this might be album number eight. I tried to get through them recently and I lost my count,” she laughs.
“It is interesting, because we are changing, both our tastes are changing and our rolls. We’re still working it out after all this time, slowly improving on the process. We’ve changed ideas on how we work, even in the last two years. I’m kind of excited to see how that dynamic works now with the new one. Every new song you write you think this is better than all the others ones. I want to tap more into that and with the kids album we tapped into some other things that we didn’t before. Different ways of performing and the upbeatness. I think that’s exciting.”
For more on Land of the Lakes visit their official social medias and landofthelakes.ca