Tara Kannangara: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: A diverse sound touching on the lyrical, whimsical, and unpredictable — meshing jazz, pop, electronic-synth music, musical theatre and whatever else moves her. 

File next to: Dominique Fils-Aimé, Hannah Georges, Jeremy Dutcher

Playing: Brothers Dressler, Saturday November 9th @ 16-225 Sterling Road, Toronto. Get tickets here!

It’s not often Juno-nominated artists still in their ascendancy grace the Wavelength stage, but 2016 Vocal Jazz Album nominee, Tara Kannangara is the latest to do so for at WL 786. The trumpet player and vocalist grew up in Chilliwack, BC, but now resides in Toronto, where she made good use of her dual talents on her eclectic album, It’s Not Mine Anymore, released earlier this year. Wavelength guest curator, Ian Steaman was lucky enough to get to pose a few questions to Tara about her unique sound and music in advance of her performance at Brothers Dressler on November 9

Like our headliner, Munya, you have a background in classical and jazz music and now make music incorporating pop and electronic/synth elements. How did studying those genres influence the music you make now?

I think when you’re immersing yourself in a specific genre of music, it’s inevitable that aspects of that genre will come out in your own music-making. It’s very much, “you are what you eat.” Sometimes the choices I make feel like I’m deliberately trying to capture something from a specific record that I love, but other times it’s not so deliberate. They just turn into happy accidents.

Studying classical and jazz music in school can teach you good habits, discipline, consistency, execution, all of which I’m very grateful for, but I find that these days I’m looking to break those habits, perhaps move beyond them to find something a little more raw and heartfelt. So while I’m happy that I’ve come from those worlds, these days I notice that I’m letting go of those places.

Big question, but what was making your album, It’s Not Mine Anymore like and how has the reaction been to it since its release? Is it still yours? 

The reaction has been amazing! I’m pretty easy to please, so any small compliment feels like a tremendous achievement. The record is about a lot of things, but ultimately it turned into a love-letter to anyone making art. Once you make something, it’s not for you to decide what happens to it. I can try to control it, I can make my intentions clear, but if someone listens to my record and thinks that I song I wrote about death is actually a song about love, they’re just as right as me. And I think that has happened! People see things in the music that I never did. I’m happy people see anything at all!

Your music is quite eclectic, as is our venue, Brothers Dressler this Saturday (Nov. 9). What can fans and people who’ve never seen you live expect from your performance?  

I think you’ll see a group of friends who love making music together. I love everyone in my band, hopefully love for the music and each other will come across. Perhaps that’s sappy, but whaaaatever! 🙂

Outside of your own music, what’s exciting you in music right now? Do you have a current favourite song?

Recently I went to see FET.NAT and I lost my mind. I think they’re super exciting and I haven’t heard anything like it. 

They played our Summer Fest back in August!

My favourite song of theirs is called, “Le rictus du gêolier / cible du malfrat” from their EP, Gaoler. The intro features a wicked speech from Razor Ramon. Truly iconic. GO CHECK THEM OUT, WORLD!!! <3 <3

FET.NAT have long been favourites of the Wavelength family! Thank you for your time, Tara.