Jann Arden talks about her new album, horses and how ideas seem to fall from the sky

Trust Jann Arden to have a new idea.

No, really – after writing five non-fiction works, including “If I Knew Then” and “Feeding My Mother”, the multiple singer-songwriter-actor-activist and recent inauguration has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame completed her first. work of fiction.

In fact, she submitted the book – which has yet to be titled – to her publisher on Monday.

“Hopefully she will make sense of what I have done because I have been working on it for 15 years,” Arden said of her spacious home in Calgary during a Zoom session earlier this week.

Arden did not decide on a title for her first work of fiction and was not sure of its quality.

“It could be a heap s – t,” she admitted. “And you know what, it does not even matter, because it was such a learning curve. Of course, I did not write every day of my life for 15 years. But I kept picking it up and dropping it off, and then I thought, ‘Here’s something.’ And then you will spend three days venturing through the drift you wrote and going, ‘Oh well… some of this is, I think, manageable and then erasing, erasing, erasing, erasing.

“Anyway, I ended up just sending it off and I was like, ‘F —‘, I can’t do this anymore.”

But those longing for a new project by the Order of Canada recipient and eight-time Juno Award winner, their hunger was quiet Friday, which was the release of “Descendant,” her 15th studio album and one that sounds pretty different from what you can expect from the musician who gave us classic songs like “I Would Die for You”, “Could I Be Your Girl”, “Good Mother” and “Insensitive.”

There is a flow to tracks like “Unbreakable” and “Moonbow” that permeate the uplifting arrangements, although not all of the songs are necessarily positive in their lyrics.

“It was done in pieces and pieces,” Arden said, adding that the making of the album, co-produced by longtime collaborators Russell Broom and Bob Rock, was somewhat of an anomaly of the way she usually records.

“It was stretched over a period of 20 months and I usually make a record in eight weeks. So it was different, but in many ways very beneficial, because we had all the time in the world. ”

Arden, composed of 15 songs, the most she’s ever done on a single studio attempt, said she included them all because “I could not bear to separate from one of them.”

“We worked a lot in my colleague Russ Broom’s studio – my co-writer, producer friend – we probably spent two or three afternoons together every week. We picked up Starbucks pass-through coffees because we were still allowed to do so at the time and we went through these tracks with a fine-tooth comb.

“We will have fun and add things, and find old sinth parties and look up to drum parties that were played in Ireland in 1929. We literally had so much fun just putting everything together. ”

Arden, who is scheduled for some Massey Hall dates on May 23 and 24, says she also wrote some songs with Rock remotely, as he was stuck in Maui for 16 months.

“Some days we wrote three songs in one afternoon,” she said. “Five of those songs ended up on this record.”

Arden said the songs on “Descendant” come from a place of gratitude.

“And just to have the time to sit and think about where you have been and where you are going. It’s a weird process for me because I have no plans when I sit down to write something – it just falls out of the sky and I scrape it down as fast as I can. And no one is more surprised than I am when I look at a lyric that sits on a page, and melody and the first chord progressions.

“It’s the strangest thing and I do not read music, so I have no idea.

“A lot of the songs felt like they were just drawn from a different time,” she continued. “‘Loving you is like a job’ is like a job description. It’s about being in a relationship where there is just such a clock in, clock out, the same s – t every day. There is no joy in it at all. And then you finally make the decision to choose yourself over whatever. So it was quite a nice song to write.

“And there’s a song called ‘Was I Ever 13’ that was just about growing up in my orphanage and thinking about what a s – t program it was. And how dysfunctional – you know, at that point everything seems so status quo and kind of normal and then you get into your 50s and you look back at those times and say, ‘How did we get this right?’ How did any of us get through that? ‘ Like, how did my mom get through it nie does not care about us. ”

When writing and recording an album was not enough, Arden also engaged in a beehive of activities outside of music.

She presents “The Jann Arden Podcast” and filmed Season 3 of her CTV series “Jann” last March, “which was weird because it was before vaccines,” she said.

“We therefore had to be very considerate. There were pods and different groups, and bathrooms you could use and not use. And many tests – we were probably tested three times a week, three out of five days.

“So it was actually a very, very creative, productive time for me. I was definitely not idle. I’m not very good at anything I do. I just like doing a lot of things. ”

She was also a sharp voice against the slaughter of horses and the transport of horses by air to be slaughtered in other areas.

“It’s important,” Arden said. “I have probably been involved with horses for 15 years and if I live in Alberta, there is such a conflict here. All these seemingly proud horse guys, you know, with their quarter-million-dollar horses… these are the same guys who own feedlots you can see from space. “There are thousands of draft horses that have been purposefully bred – they are Budweiser horses, they are large – and every two weeks they are sent on a f — ing plane to Japan for people to eat raw.”

Arden, a patron of the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition, said she was encouraged by the federal government’s promise to ban the practice, but expected it could take two years for the legislation to be drafted and enforced.

“It has been ordered by the federal government to ban it, so we are no longer trying to get their attention; we caught their attention. So now, (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau has sent out a mandate to his MPs that he wants it done.

“Now we are entering a whole new part of our campaign. We want to get it on the table and activated within 24 months. We want it to be closed. All these guys who own these feedlots and horses will scurry – I do not think they like me very much, but you can make a difference by raising your voice. ”

Last year, Arden was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

“It was wonderful,” she recalls. “It was one of my favorite moments, because it has nothing to do with the best in anything. And I thought of all the bars I played in and how many beer bottles that were thrown at my head and all the fighting that broke out; singing in Dawson Creek and Yellowknife and Whitehorse and the Yukon and inland BC and northern Manitoba, just putting in my time and paying my membership fees.

“It’s hard to believe how many years have passed: 40 years of playing music.”

Because the Juno Awards ceremony was held without an audience, Arden – who is celebrating her 60th birthday on March 27 – acted in isolation, something she was grateful for.

“I was so relieved not to be there with people,” she admitted. “I was so relieved to be there with a bunch of guys wearing masks. Because I think I would have been such a nervous wreck.

“I loved it.”


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