Out from under Eric’s shadow

Kerri Breen talks to New Brunswick-based singer-songwriter Julie Doiron about collaborating with Phil Elverum, her new album, and why she’s embraced her past with Eric’s Trip.

Julie Doiron gracefully manages the emotional strain of having her personal life become public.
Sometimes however, with the wrong cocktail of circumstances, her honest, deeply personal songs can be difficult to perform, especially when she’s exhausted on tour.

“Usually when they’re just freshly written sometimes they’re harder than others, but if a little bit of time goes by and I remind myself that I’m doing a show, and I’m playing what I think are good songs even though they happen to be quite personal, I try to remind myself to play them and not think about the lyrics…”

“Like, sing the lyrics, and try to sing them with as much emotion as I think they deserve, but not let it turn into tears onstage.”

In general, however, Doiron says she’s having more fun as a musician than she ever has.

“It’s just been getting better and better and I’m playing with musicians I really like and that tends to keep it really fun,” she says. “It’s less of a battle of trying to win over an audience and more of having fun playing with the audience.”

The Juno award winning, New Brunswick-based singer-songwriter hasn’t played St. John’s since 2000, but will be performing at the George Street United Church on Dec. 12.

“Needless to say I’m very excited to be coming and hopefully there won’t be any crazy weather issues,” she says.

In 2007, Doiron released the Polaris prize-shortlisted album Woke Myself Up. Her most recent project, Lost Wisdom, is a collaboration with the Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum and her drummer Fred Squire.

“[Squire and I] were hanging out at Phil’s place for a couple of days and he wanted to know if we all wanted to go record.”

“We started with a couple of Phil’s songs because he seemed to be the most ready.”

“And we ended up with ten whole songs in a two week period. It just sounded beautiful and it all went from there.”

The album, which was released in October, has been warmly received by critics.

“I feel really honoured to be singing on songs that I think are so great,” Doiron says.

Elverum is a long-time follower of Doiron’s work. The press release for the album says he’s her biggest fan, starting back to her days with ‘90s indie rock outfit, Eric’s Trip.

Eric’s Trip was the first Canadian band to be signed to Seattle’s Sub Pop records. The long haired, grungy group was wildly popular by indie rock standards, but disbanded in 1996.

After Eric’s Trip broke up Doiron says she was frustrated by her constant association with the band, which she joined when she was 18.

“I’d show up in every town and the poster would always say ‘Julie from Eric’s Trip’ and I found that initially hard to get over because the music I was making was nothing like Eric’s Trip,” she says. “So people were either coming hoping to hear something that was like Eric’s Trip, which was impossible without it being those four members, which is why I’ve never tried to make a band sounding like Eric’s Trip.”

But as she grew up, secured her footing as a solo artist, and put the experience of the band in perspective, the association has grown on her. Eric’s Trip’s 2001 reunion tour caused her to think differently about the band.

“It was at that point where I kind of didn’t mind it anymore because that tour was so much fun and I guess I was able to understand why we had broken up and understand that we had our strengths together.”

“I guess I became—I don’t like to say proud, but that’s the word I can think of right now—proud of having been a part of that band.”

Being in the band steered her towards pursuing a career as a full-time musician.

“I never would have done music if I hadn’t been in Eric’s Trip,” she says.

Doiron’s new album, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, was recorded last summer by Eric’s Trip alumnus Rick White

“It’s kind of a long title but it seems to work really well with the record,” Doiron admits.

“I’m just really happy with it.”

The album is being released in March.

Julie Doiron with guests Alex Pierson and Jody Richardson play at the George Street United Church on Dec. 12 at 7:30 pm. Doiron will also be playing drums in Calm Down it’s Monday.