Mo Kenney’s second album, In My Dreams, dropped on September 30, and judging by the great tunes and the critical acclaim they’re receiving, it looks like Mo is continuing her climb to Canadian folk-rock stardom. A little darker and a little less acoustic, In My Dreams reveals the broad spectrum of talent Kenney has yet to fully explore. I spoke to her about the new album, the new mood, and the brutality of truth.
Nancy Berman (NB): Tell me about your new album.
Mo Kenney (MK): It’s a lot different than the first one, that’s for sure. It’s kind of less folk/acoustic-based than the first. There’s a lot more production on this one. And the overall mood is a lot different — it’s pretty melancholy, but also a bit humorous. The darkness isn’t angsty, it’s just that the humor is pretty dark. Joel Plaskett produced this one too at his new studio, the New Scotland Yard. The old studio had one room and the new one is really big and nice with top-notch equipment and a cool lounge area. It was nice doing the second record in a bigger, better studio. It felt pretty good.
NB: I find that many of the songs on both your albums are brutally honest about the ambiguity of love and relationships — faking it, not wanting to let people go even though they might not be the best for you. This is a little different than the stereotypical rock or folk song, and a surprising from such a young artist.
MK: In general I’m the type of person to say what I really mean. I can be blunt. I think that comes across on this record. I guess that’s kind of the way I am. Being too honest in a song might be a bad thing because then you’re not leaving it open to someone else’s interpretation. But if you’re honest about love some people will be able to relate.
NB: I thought I detected a slight ’80s influence when I was listening to the album, for example on Telephone, which reminds me just a bit of the Cars.
MK: Well that wasn’t intentional, but it’s kind of cool. Maybe the keyboard in places. Also The Cars were notorious for their dry drums, which I have on Telephone.
NB: What’s your favorite song on the album?
MK: Mountains to the Mess. That’s the first song I wrote that I really got excited about, that I knew would be on this record, and it kind of set the tone for it. It’s more of a production — usually I leave my songs on acoustic guitar until I’m in the studio, then we work things out in studio. But here I put it on Garageband right away, and brought it in already semi-produced.
NB: Where do you see yourself musically in the future?
MK: I have no idea. I really would like to do something super weird next. I’m not sure what that will be, but lately I’ve been letting myself do whatever I want and I’m writing some really strange stuff. I feel like I have a lot of freedom now after doing two records, freedom to do whatever I want.
Mo Kenney plays with Kim Churchill Saturday November 1 at Club Soda (1225 St. Laurent Blvd) at 8pm (doors open at 7). Tickets from $24.50-29.65.
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