Kathleen Edwards :: The AD Interview

Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards' debut, 2003's Failer, made our top ten list of that year. Five years and three albums later, Edwards, on tour in support of her new album Asking For Flowers, sat down with AD to discuss the new album, and what she's been up to since '05s Back To Me.

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Aquarium Drunkard: The break between your last record and this new record was actually a little bit longer than the time period between your first two records. What were you doing in between 2005 with Back to Me and 2008 and the release of Asking for Flowers?

Kathleen Edwards: Well, I toured a lot for Back to Me in 2005 and 2006, and then in the spring of 2006 I was pretty burned out and, you know, it's just one of those things. Since almost 2001, 2002 I've been in this crazy whirlwind of activity and I've moved five times and I've toured non-stop and I'd lost a little bit of my sense of being in one place for a period of time. I think you really become sort of disconnected from people and from living a normal life, whatever that means. I really just needed to stay in one place for awhile.

AD: Did that have any affect on the themes and the tone of the new album?

KE: Yeah, I think it did. I sort of set out on this record going I want to write songs that aren't just about me and love lost and love gained and some of the stuff that in my early 20s was the stuff I was writing. I wanted to bite off a bigger chunk this time and be a little more invested in some of the content on my songs and I wanted them to be songs about people I knew and lives that I know and people that are real to me and try to honestly and with integrity write these songs for people.

AD: Can you give us a bit of insight into the title track and where that and the album title came from?

KE: Yeah. "Asking for Flowers" was a song I wrote for one of my really close friends. She actually, during this time off I had, was going through a really tough time and has struggled for years with physical and emotional problems. I went to see her at probably one of her hardest times and she told me that her life had been like asking for flowers with some of the judgments and feelings of inadequacy that she had lived with all these years. That the idea of giving somebody compassion and giving them their time without judgment, living a life of asking for flowers. I asked her what that meant and she said being with somebody who just wants to bring them to you and you shouldn't have to ask for them. Someone should want to just bring them to you.

AD: You talked about wanting to write more songs about people that you knew or lives that you felt you were interested in - an external thing. And I think that comes across, especially in two songs that pair together well - "Alicia Ross" and "Oh Canada." Living in the States, a lot of people may not know who she was, and correct me if I'm wrong, but Alicia Ross is to Canada what Natalie Holloway was to the States, in that it was this girl who went missing and no one was sure what happened to her. But her case was eventually solved, correct?

KE: Yeah, her case was solved. Alicia Ross was a young woman in Toronto who lived at home still and was in her early 20s and she sort of never walked in the door one night after her boyfriend had dropped her off. Her mother began a very public campaign and search for her child. It's one of those things; you see it in the press and sometimes you're not moved. I just mean that honestly. Sometimes you don't connect with the story or the person. You can turn off the station and it's not your problem or it's not your friend. And in this case, and maybe it's an age thing, I suddenly realized 'what would it take my mother to get out of bed every morning knowing that I might be dead somewhere? And how do you reconcile that and how do you move on and not sort of live under a rock the rest of your life?' I just kind of felt like that could have been my mother and I saw that and felt it and I think maybe that is an age thing. I realized there are so many things in my life that have gone unsaid between my mother and I and I think that's where that song came from; acknowledging that moment where that person died and thinking they probably wished their mother was with them. It's pretty heavy and dark, but it also happens.


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