EVER since I discovered and reviewed the Canadian band….
PHOTO CREDIT: @_jasonsc
Crooked House Road; I have been intrigued and fascinated by Shaina Silver-Baird. I ask her about the new venture, Ghost Caravan, and whether her poetic/personal lyrics/music would remain here. She talks about the Flume and Chet Faker cover, Drop the Game, and why she decided to tackle that song – and what it was like meeting Martha & the Muffins at a tribute concert. Curious about Crooked House Road and the Canadian music scene: Silver-Baird recommends a couple of artists to look out for and why Canada is producing such great music right now. She goes on to talk about tour dates and whether there is any new music brewing. I quiz her about the future of Ghost Caravan and whether we here in the U.K. will see her perform soon.
Hi, Shaina, how are you? How has your week been?
It’s been great! Been spending a lot of time in the studio working on new songs and releasing the new video has been exciting.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer/songwriter and actor who started out in Folk music and I have recently moved into Indie, Electronic and Soul with the solo project, Ghost Caravan. I want to continue to push in that direction: personal/poetic lyrics coupled with grand, dramatic tracks. It’s such an exciting sound; very contemporary and yet derived from something deeper and older.
‘Ghost Caravan’ is an intriguing moniker and idea. What is the inspiration behind that name?
Partly, I love the images it inspires. It’s a very visceral phrase and lyrically that’s the kind of thing I’m drawn to.
It was also inspired by the fact that I write from a very personal place and I have lost a lot of people in my life.
My past experiences and my memories of these people feel like ghosts that constantly inform my creative life. My music is about understanding deep emotional experiences, but also about looking to the positive in life. I write from a personal place and find it relatively impossible not to give myself over completely to a song when I’m performing it. People can expect our shows to be intimate. However, the music is quite epic in scope so there will be that duality. Hopefully, we’ll have an experience together.
You started the project after a one-off song with Electronic artist Matt Fudge – at a Martha & the Muffins tribute concert. What was the reception like from that show in Toronto? Was it, literally, a case of that reaction told you there was a definite desire for your Pop style/Ghost Caravan?
I’ve always been drawn to Soul/Pop/Electronic music as a listener. But, I’d never worked electronically before – that was completely foreign to me. That initial collaboration with Matt Fudge was very exciting because it opened up a whole new way of working on music. I could dream it and we could create it: we didn’t need to source a cello player to test what strings would sound like. He could just program it.
I’d say that first one-off performance was definitely the catalyst. I’m very rarely nervous to perform but that day I was.
I was singing a Martha & the Muffins song and they were there! I was scared I wasn’t going to do their work justice but it ended up being the complete opposite. They loved the performance as did the rest of the audience. Without that performance, I’m sure this project never would have happened. I’ve actually gone on to co-write a few songs with Martha and Mark (from Martha & the Muffins)!
Graham Stairs approached you after that performance. How important has he and Popguru management been to you and launching Ghost Caravan?
He’s been absolutely integral. We’ve been focused on development and generating material over the past year and he’s been a support and guiding force through the whole thing. He’s been a successful staple of the music industry for years and I’m so lucky to be able to draw on his knowledge. He’s especially experienced in recognizing and developing talent and I feel lucky to have been picked out of the crowd.
In terms of the sound of Ghost Caravan; which new and legendary artists, if any, do you take inspiration from?
So many! Recently I’ve been very inspired by London Grammar, Ibeyi; Joy Williams, Ann Vriend; Lorde and, of course, Adele.
Heart was your first single – released last May. What was the inspiration behind that?
I’m both an actor and a musician, and while I love what I do, both industries can be emotionally taxing at times. I was going through a rough period and realising how lucky I was to have deep love in my life. It’s a universal story but it’s the love of my man, my family and friends that get me through the hard days. That’s what the song is about.
Drop the Game, the Flume and Chet Faker cover, is online – shot at Burdock Music Hall in Toronto. What has the reaction been to that video and what was the idea behind covering that song? Is it a track that resonates within you?
The feedback has been really positive and I’m so proud of the whole team for their work on this video. Graham actually introduced me to the song and I just found it so addictive. I listened to the original version on repeat for a week.
It’s a different format than I usually write: the arrangement is unconventional; using layering of different sections instead of the standard song structure to build the track.
I wanted to play with that and see if we could make it our own. I think we achieved that. I get so excited whenever I get to incorporate strings into a song! So, on a personal level, introducing that element to the song was exciting. I do a happy-dance every time the cello comes out in rehearsal.
I know you from Crooked House Road. Are the band still operating and releasing new material? Are you concentrating on Ghost Caravan or balancing solo and band work?
Crooked House Road is still operating and playing gigs! All the members of that band though are focused on solo/other music projects at the moment; so we’re taking a break from developing new material. But, there may be some new songs coming in the near-future. For now, I’m focused on Ghost Caravan and developing this new sound.
Are there plans for an E.P. or more music later this year?
We have at least an album’s-worth of material at this point but we’re biding our time and trying to find the perfect match of tracks for the Ghost Caravan sound. There may be an E.P., there may be a couple singles or there may even be and exciting music video project (I can’t talk about yet). You’ll just have to watch our website and social media for updates!
I know you will be performing some dates, too. Where can people catch you? Any plans to come to the U.K. anytime soon?
We’re playing our first gig of the year at The Burdock Music Hall in Toronto on 1st June. No plans to come to the U.K. yet – but it’s definitely on the bucket list.
I’m actually working with producer/songwriter Joe Thompson (from Bristol) on a song right now so I’ll definitely have to find an excuse to come play the tune in the U.K.
As a busy Canadian musician, you must have dreams and aims for the coming years. How do you see your music growing and developing?
I’m always collaborating with new people and each voice involved has an effect on the sound. We’re still experimenting and with each new track we hone in more closely on the Ghost Caravan sound. It’s an exciting process. Several of the tracks are quite epic in scope and would lend themselves well to film. Bringing my industries together through providing music for film soundtracks is definitely a goal. Eventually I’d love the opportunity to bring the music to a larger live audience at major festivals. Live performance is where I thrive so that’s definitely a part of our plans.
I love investigating Canadian artists because they get overlooked by the international press. Do you feel Canada gets ignored in regards its music? What is the scene like in areas like Toronto at the moment?
I’m steeped in the Canadian market so I am constantly exposed to Canadian artists but I recognize there are many amazing Canadian acts the rest of the world is completely unaware of. I would definitely encourage music lovers the world over to look past Canada’s Pop stars to our independent acts.
We have a thriving community and I am constantly amazed by the talent that surrounds me.
Any night of the week you can find great concerts all over Toronto: sometimes the biggest challenge is choosing.
If you had to select the three albums that have meant most to you which would they be and why?
The Oh Wonder album – It seems to be the perfect soundtrack to my life over the past year. I find myself returning to it again and again. It’s just so damn catchy and yet calming at the same time.
Ella Fitzgerald – all of them. I was raised on her Jazz standards and she got me singing even when I was a tone deaf child.
Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars – they represent a totally different style from what I’m writing now – but that album taught me so much about story-telling through song.
Are there any new/upcoming artists you advise we keep an eye out for this year at all?
Mirian. She sings with me in Crooked House Road but has an amazing solo Urban/R&B project.
Grand Analog. I’d say Toronto’s funkiest, most-fun live Hip-Hop band. Not to be missed.
What advice would you give to any new artists coming through right now?
Biggest advice: don’t try to do this alone. Find other musicians and people in the industry who want to create with you.
A great song isn’t created through ego.
My best songs have been co-writes and I always want to use the best lyrics or melody line – if the other writer wrote a better hook than me, that’s the one we’ll use. Write music you WANT to listen to.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that)
Shift by Wilderness of Manitoba (Canadian Folk band that just released a new album. Can’t wait to listen to it straight through but this song has been ringing in my head since I heard it.)
Follow Ghost Caravan