Vancouver’s Jordan Klassen has one of those inquisitive, gentle personalities that suggests he spends a good deal of time contemplating life’s purpose and assessing his place in the universe. His explanation of his latest album Repentence is a perfect example of how he transcends day to day concerns in favour of bigger themes yet still manages to see his role in it all.
“The album is a spring record. I like to have boundaries and have themes when I’m writing, so I’ve moved through most of the seasons with my records. I like the idea of the land repenting, turning from winter into spring. Also, historically, repentance is about turning away from something ugly to something beautiful. That’s what the album is about. It’s about facing depression and being honest about it, and looking for hope. On this album, I was laying everything out on the table. It was about being really honest about how bad things were inside of me. And so, that felt good.”
Do you see what I mean? Klassen is a smaller representation of a bigger cosmos. This kind of introversion fits well with his music too. Unlike some folk music, that draws heavily on social justice issues, Klassen focuses on the internal world.
“My kind of vision or thing is existential. A lot of my songs are poetic references to feeling,” he says. “I sometimes feel like what I’m saying doesn’t make tons of sense, but the words evoke a certain kind of feeling that I’m trying to get across. I’m a melancholic person and inspired by that.”
No surprise he goes on to name the National as one of his favorite bands. “They sing just so well about those moments when you’re contentedly sad. I think that’s something that inspires me,” he says.
When writing such self-reflective music, music becomes a kind of therapy. But Klassen clarifies that he doesn’t need to feel melancholic in order to write a song. “I do think music is theraeutic,” he says. “If you’re being honest, it’ll be therapeutic. If you’re trying to be cool, it’ll make you more angsty.” He points to good friend and singer Andy Shayf (see Montreal Rampage interview HERE) as a good example of someone who can reveal vulnerability in front of others. “I think people respect someone who can be vulnerable and do it well.”
The best way to get a sense of Klassen is to find out what was in his heart and mind as he wrote his songs. “I’m an oversharer,” he confesses. He points to the song Ranchero as an important song on the album.
“I wrote [Ranchero] in reference to this memory I had of living in Calgary for a few years. I have this memory of standing out on the street, smoking a cigarette, in minus 40 degree weather, and having this… well, being my typical kind of overly reflective, angsty self. I was outside a friend’s place, and I saw all my friends over, playing board games. There was a bright light from the living room shining onto this dark cold snowy front lawn. And I guess this moment was symbolic of that time. I felt very lost, but I always had this home base of love.”
In the works, Klassen is going to record a few singles this summer and produce a new full length album in early 2015. “That’s kind of what my hope is,” he says. “I will have a quiet summer and get something done. I think it’ll be a new direction.”
Jordan Klassen and Erik Lind & the Orchard play at the L’Escogriffe (4467 St. Dennis) on May 12 at 9:30 p.m.