My friend Kim is going to be the death of me. A couple of years ago, she suggested we catch a folk show. I was all for it, until she told me it was at FortWhyte Alive in a log cabin in the woods…in January. Every season is out of my comfort zone, so I visualized myself as Laura Ingalls Wilder from “Little House On The Prairie”. I saw us portaging through waist deep snow to a log cabin in the woods where we’d huddle around a wood stove, drinking hot cocoa in Hudson’s Bay striped mugs while listening to songs about beaver pelts and tree sap.  

Spoiler alert: I didn’t die and it didn’t quite go like that. But it produced one of the funniest reviews I’ve ever written and the best part about that experience was Carly Dow. She was charming, and funny, and she had a great voice. Her songs were real and she delivered them with meaning and soul. 

When Swish Magazine approached me to interview a local female musician, my first choice was Carly Dow. Not only was I curious about her, but she seemed completely non-threatening. Plus, I knew she was writing a new album called “Comet”, which should be out sometime this fall.

Anne: So we’re doing a phone interview because you don’t live in the city. Please tell me you live in a log cabin.

Carly: (laughs) No, I live in a pretty cosy little house. But if it’s any consolation, I’m in the very slow process of building a log sauna.

Anne: I’m a concert story-teller so I have to ask you, what’s the most memorable place you’ve played and where do you enjoy playing the most?

Carly: This year, the most memorable shows took place at Winnipeg Folk Festival. I’ve been involved as a young performer for years, but it was my first time playing as part of the official line up. It meant a lot that they asked me and it was a pretty huge moment for me to get up on that stage. In general, I love playing festivals and most listening venues - places where people are taking interest in the stories and the songs.

Photo courtesy of Carly Dow

Photo courtesy of Carly Dow

Anne: You released your first album “Ingrained” three years ago, how have you grown as an artist since then?

Carly: I’ve grown a lot performance-wise and on stage. I’ve also grown in my capabilities as a producer in a recording studio; I’m a little more vocal and confident with what I want to hear. I’ve also grown a lot through travel. I was thinking the other day, music has taken me to every province and territory in Canada, except Newfoundland. It’s amazing and humbling, and to grow in that way is really special.

Anne: You’re working on your new album “Comet”, I saw you posted pictures of yourself in the studio on Facebook and it looked pretty gruelling.

Carly: It’s a pretty crazy process. Of course there are lots of different ways to do it, but we were pulling 12 – 14 hour days in the studio. And it’s hard, you’re doing a lot of really careful listening, which is exhausting and just trying to get the best performance in terms of the recording.

Anne: Are you working with the same band?

Carly: It’s the same core band I usually play live with: drummer-Dan Bertnick, bassist-Ashley Au and guitarist-Matt Filopoulos. We also added some strings and guest vocalists. Like the last album, there’s going to be some stripped down songs but also a few full band tunes. I’m pretty happy with how things are turning out so far.

Anne: Where does your inspiration come from? 

Carly: Similar to the last album, it’s heavily influenced by my natural surroundings. A lot of imagery with reference to the natural world and then weaving that into experiences with relationships and things I observe within that context of the natural world.

Anne: How do you get your music out to people? How do we get this album?

Carly: Mostly social media and touring. Festivals are probably the best way to reach a new, broad audience, but because I live so remote, I do rely a lot on social media. When the album comes out, I’ll be touring pretty heavily so I’ll have it available at live shows on CD and vinyl, and then it’ll be available online through the usual slew of distributors such as iTunes and Spotify.

Photo courtesy of Carly Dow

Photo courtesy of Carly Dow

Anne: And you’ll get your whopping 2 cents from Spotify.

Carly: (laughs) Yeah.

Anne: Last question, what’s it like for a female in the local music industry?

Carly: That’s a good question. I find there’s a lot of support and community in Winnipeg that makes the local music scene more intimate than it would be in other cities. I think that helps foster a lot of communication and discussion around issues such as equality in the industry. It’s such a small city, so everyone knows each other and they’re really supportive in a positive way. I think in general, there are a lot of obstacles being a woman in the music industry. Personally, I’ve come across a few instances where there has been blatant sexism and situations that made me uncomfortable, but I know a lot of my other female colleagues have experienced a lot worse. It’s kind of engrained in the system the way it is, and there’s a lot of movement for change, a lot of discussions happening, but I think it’s a slow process and the more people are aware of these issues, the better. It’s a complicated topic, but I think as long as people are talking about it, that’s the first step to make changes.

Photo courtesy of Carly Dow

Photo courtesy of Carly Dow


Check out Carly Dow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @carlydowmusic
For more of Carly’s interview, check out AnnE’s “TicketMOMster” Facebook page.