HPX 2015: Q&A with Andy Shauf

Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Andy Shauf headlines the St. Matthew’s show at Halifax Pop Explosion tonight. The bearer of beautifully somber songs, Shauf recently signed with Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts. His album The Bearer of Bad News was re-released in Canada by the label, originally coming out in 2012.  To make things even more confusing, it was re-released earlier this winter in the United States on two indie labels earlier this year. We chatted with Shauf earlier this winter when he was in Halifax for In The Dead of Winter.

Shauf plays St. Matthew’s Church at 9pm tonight (Oct. 23) along with the Weather Station and Nap Eyes.

Where does the somber tone and feel of your songs come from?

It comes from the music part of it. I usually write the lyrics after the music or at the same time. The mood comes from the music, and I tend to write slower songs. My new record has a lot of upbeat songs but it’s a little less depressing but it’s still depressing.

Are the songs fictional or based off of real situations?

They’re fictional, but usually there’s something that’s inspired the story. Whether it’s someone I’ve known or something that’s actually happened to me. Like “Hometown Heroes”, I wrote that modelling the character after this hockey player dad in Bienfait, Saskatchewan. He drove a drag racer car.

What’s the story behind Wendell Walker? How do you write a song that long in a sing-songwriter style and keep it captivating?

I wrote that song on piano one day. It was really slow and I didn’t know what I was going to make it about. I just wrote it start to finish and it turned out to be eight minutes long. I can imagine it can be totally boring if you’re not listening to the story. It repeats a lot of the same stuff, but I hope the story keeps it entertaining. That one was just really a crazy story, it’s not based on anything. The setting is pretty Saskatchewan and wintery. If that song were real, it’d be pretty crazy. Maybe I’d be in jail or something.

Would you say that song is one people connect with?

It’s the one people request the most at shows. It seems a little weird to me that the eight minute epic would be the one people like.

Photo by Evelyn Hornbeck/Mixtape