Five Questions With… Zoe Sky Jordan
The Toronto dream-pop singer/songwriter has a new album, Scenes From Infinity, out now. Here she discusses the creative collaboration with husband Liam Russell, her favourite songs, plans for 2020, and lessons learned from her famous musical parents.
By Jason Schneider
As the daughter of accomplished Canadian singer-songwriters Marc Jordan and Amy Sky, Zoe Sky Jordan grew up with the implicit understanding that all emotions can be expressed through music. That’s precisely what she does on her brand new release Scenes From Infinity, an intimately crafted collection made in collaboration with her husband Liam Russell, who also happens to be the son of Canadian folk legend Brent Titcomb.
It was a project they hadn’t planned on doing together, but Jordan admits that the highly personal nature of the songs demanded a level of comfort she wasn’t willing to hand over to another producer. The results are a mesmerizing dichotomy of lush dream-pop with unvarnished lyrics dealing with the realities of adult relationships, as exemplified by the first single, Name On It.
Since relocating to Nashville from Toronto, Jordan has balanced her own music with other work that’s included adding her voice to advertising campaigns by Tim Horton’s, KIA, Kijiji and others. But now with Scenes From Infinity, she is firmly making the case to be included in the conversation of Canada’s best emerging pop auteurs. Hear more at zoeskyjordan.bandcamp.com. Note: Our conversation occurred prior to the COVID-19 announcements on March 16.
What was the process like making Scenes From Infinity?
It was a really different process from anything else I've recorded. For starters, my husband Liam produced it even though we swore we would never work together in that capacity! I also worked out a lot of the material with my band, pedal steel and harmonica player Jason Goforth and Liam, who plays everything else, rather than in the studio. That has made everything so much more fun to play live because that's how the songs started. I got most of the ideas for the songs from just me and my volca beats drum machine, which felt like a return to my teenage bedroom writing days. The album is about our first year of marriage, so although there’s something about that may seem way too close for comfort, in the end, I do think it was fitting that we recorded it as basically just the two of us at home in that first year. Almost documentary style.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
Jive is one because I'm really excited that I got to talk about the feeling of out-growing yourself. That's a place I've been in a lot the past year. It was a slow song to write, and it also was the first one that sounded like this set of songs—with the finger picking on my Danelectro [baritone guitar] and the drum machine. It's also kind of funny and self-deprecating and gives my hometown a shout out. How You Love Me also stands out to me for the exact opposite reason. It was a late addition to the record; I just felt that it rounded out the EP. I wrote it very quickly and then we recorded it live off the floor and used the first take.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
Anything by SZA or Rickie Lee Jones. I'm a big fan of angular melodies. Also maybe [Simon and Garfunkel’s] The Sound of Silence.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year and what are your goals for 2020?
Taking back “my sound.” Working with Liam has been such a lifeline. I feel I truly come across more in my music now. Goals for 2020? Let's see what happens with Coronavirus! I'm going to finish Part II of Scenes From Infinity and then I have some non-music related creative projects.
What's the best advice your parents have given you?
To keep your head down and focus on what you know you do well and brings you joy. I had the benefit of watching them walk that walk and saw first hand that holding onto what makes you feel like yourself will protect you when things are disappointing and hard.