Kansas-Lee Hatherly has always been able to pick up any instrument and figure it out.
The Osoyoos-based musician is putting the finishing touches on her new piano-based album that was recorded with a USB microphone that hangs from a chain above her piano, and with the viola and violin “sprinkled in.”
The follow up to her first album, Letter in the Pocket of the Jacket, will debut at the Fireside Festival to be held at the end of the month.
“Just a voice and piano is beautiful but when you add all the other things it expresses more,” said Hatherly. “I’m adding full-on operatic haunting vocals on the background and I played it thinking is this weird? No, it’s cool and awesome,” .
The musician left Osoyoos years ago to busk in San Francisco and then moved to Victoria where she busked along the harbour. She said that is where she grew as an artist, became a part of a busking group where she played the banjolele, accordion and used a suitcase as a kick drum, as well as a tambourine along with her kazoo. She has since returned to the little lakeside city.
“When I was on the harbour in Victoria, I was playing tonal folky music and played kazoo. It’s entertaining but these (piano-based songs) are really my heart telling these stories I can’t even tell through my own mouth and they just flow and come through and I just have to tweak them a bit,” said Hatherly.
She learned her unique way of writing songs when she was busking in Victoria and she says that she would just make up the lyrics as she went and eventually the lyrics came together on their own until they were the same every time.
“We all knew the chords, we knew where we picked up and then would slow down, I would change the words slowly and then it became the same every time. It just developed every time I was sitting there in front of 50 people at the harbour. It was crazy but it also gives you confidence and the feeling to be free.”
On her forthcoming album, Hatherly explores songwriting in a similar way, free-styling at the piano, hoping to record something exceptional.
“Playing piano, if you don’t judge yourself and you let yourself go, it’s like free-styling but singing,” said Hatherly. “When I play sad piano music, it’s not as wild and fancy free but it’s the same energy there and it’s still really me truly believing what I am saying.”
Hatherly will perform at the Fireside Festival at BNA Sunday, Jan. 27.
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