Jory Nash—Canadian Independent Musician Profile
Jory Nash grew up with his music-loving parents always playing records around the house. He says, “Neither of my parents played instruments but they loved listening to music. They were huge fans of Pete Seeger and Gordon Lightfoot. Those were the first two concerts that I saw when I was a kid. It just went from there. I played piano, I played guitar. I went to a kids camp where there were a lot of counsellors who played guitar which was a big influence.”
Gordon Lightfoot has remained a powerful influence on his music and song writing. Jory explains, “The sound of his records as I hear them in my head, especially his early recordings from 1970 to 1976, is the sound I want in my records too. He was a very disciplined writer, but he also explored a lot of different styles. People say that he was just a folksinger/songwriter, but his music has lots of elements of jazz, blues and pop in it.”
Jory and his friend Aengus Finnan first put together a tribute concert to Gordon Lightfoot’s music in 2002 called The Way We Feel. The concerts are still continuing on an annual basis. He says, “Gord doesn’t put out records any more, so I’m not adding any new music but there’s a breadth of writing that we get to explore every year. This year’s the 15th anniversary so we’re planning a gala concert at a theatre to mark that occasion.”
Some songwriters start with lyrics first and others with music. Jory falls into the latter camp. He points out, “I read an interview with Paul Simon where he explains that he just plays around on an instrument, typically the guitar, finding chord progressions that appeal to him and sort of scat singing elements on top. In that process, words often form, similar to how babies learn to talk. Once the ideas and the words that fit the melodies become apparent, the song takes shape. I work in a similar way.”
While Jory’s view of the music business has become more jaundiced over his career, he still loves the music itself. He explains, “If you tease the music out from the music business, it’s still just as interesting to me. I love listening to song writers and the songs and albums that they create. I love listening to how records are made, how they sound and how they’re formatted. I still love all of that. When I write, I often think about how to frame the song in the context of a record.”
As for the business side of the industry? Jory replies, “It has changed for the worse over the years. We just don’t sell CDs like we used to and for an independent artist like myself that’s long been the second largest revenue stream after playing live concerts. Now I often question the economics of making records.”
He adds, “I’ll still make records as long as I can get some sort of funding assistance in the form of a grant or a crowdfunding campaign, but if it’s up to an independent artist to completely fund their own records it makes no sense because they simply don’t sell enough to justify the large overhead.”
Another challenge that Jory identifies is having to deal with rejection. He says, “You have to be ready for a lot of unanswered emails, a lot of people choosing not to hire you for a concert or thinking they understand your music and not allowing you to change because you get pigeonholed. I find that frustrating. When I was younger, I took it as a challenge. As I get older, it gets a little harder. There are some days when I can take rejection and turn it into great art. Sometimes it’s all about your attitude!”
Rather than having one cohesive folk/roots music scene, Jory points out that Canada has many smaller local music scenes. He elaborates, “The local area is where things happen, so you concentrate on certain areas especially your home town. After that, you might resonate in other areas, so you build out from there. I’m 20 years into the business and there’s still markets in Canada where I’ve never been able to break through.”
For the immediate future, he has a multitude of plans including playing shows over the summer and touring with a smaller version of The Way We Feel. He’s also working on a new record. Jory explains, “I’m going to be writing for the new record and figuring out how that’s going to sound and look. I’m doing all the logistics for the record which is something that I like to do. I’ll start a crowdfunding campaign for the new record in August and I hope to be recording it by November/December to release it in the spring.”
The need to write is something visceral for Jory. He says, “I’ll always write in some form because it’s a way to get out what you’re feeling inside. I write to express myself and I’ll continue to write.”
He adds, “I’m continually inspired by listening to other writers and seeing other people play. I love performing. When you’re on stage and people are listening and connecting with what you’re doing, there’s nothing like it. Those are the things that continue to drive me."
For more information on Jory and his music, please visit him here.
This profile is based on telephone interview with Jory Nash conducted and recorded on June 29, 2017.