About Megan Hamilton
Picture yourself on a swaying, creaking dock on a cool summer evening. Hear the splashes of water against the sides of the boats, the ropes clinking against the masts. A chilly breeze grazes your hair and you can See Your Midnight Breath in the Shipyard. This was the conceptual starting point for Megan Hamilton and co-producer Mark Vogelsang when creating their new album of the same name.
Megan was hailed as an Artist To Watch 2009 in the December 2008 edition of Exclaim!: “...expect Hamilton to start exploring new sonic territory on her next release.” And that is precisely what she and Mark have done.
Recorded late in the summer of 2008, See Your Midnight Breath in the Shipyard was laid down in the OIART studios in London, ON – an audio engineering school where Mark now teaches. When it came time to mixing, he says: “I wanted to know what it would sound like to place the album in different parts of a ship.” This kind of creative approach to his work is what has made Mark a sought-after, award-winning sound designer and teacher. Having designed sound for film, and a songwriter and composer himself, he researched the sonic qualities of several different rooms in ships to create a thematic, aural journey: “I spent a lot of time alone listening to ocean samples, metallic sounds, various audio takes recorded in cold climates, as well as studying sound characteristics of breathing in cold air, which ended up being the concept for developing the reverb for Megan’s vocals and certain background sounds.”
The third collaboration between Megan and Mark, this album was recorded very differently than the critically acclaimed Feudal Ladies Club (2006) and how we think about light (2007). Where previously it was just the two in a homemade studio, there was now a fully rehearsed band in a professional studio. Instead of views of Saskatchewan prairies, they were closer to their Ontario homes.
“It was a very different experience in some ways, yet our process and ideology remained the same”, says Megan. “I loved having the band to record their parts. It was challenging - we had a limited time in the studio, so we had to push ourselves to levels I don’t know that any of us thought we could reach.” 5am vocal takes and 7am guitar solos... “It felt like we had really achieved something.” With the majority of the 13 tracks recorded over a five day period, there was no room for second-guessing.
While maintaining her love of folk music and simple structures, Megan and the band experimented with new sounds and ideas. Combined with Mark’s sonic concept, a unique and creative album was born.
On this album, her band The Volunteer Canola, consisted of the players who’d toured with her through 2008 – labelmate Steve Puchalski (Deromantic) on keys; Adam White on bass; Bostonian Andrew Sadoway on drums; and Craig Browne (Memory Bank, Young Contrarians) on lead guitar and back-up vocals. Megan played her usual array of acoustic and electric guitars, piano, B3, tambourine and layers and layers of vocals.
Megan says of her songwriting: “I don’t really have a set process. But I usually start with the words.” Megan trained as an actor, and along with her songs has written plays and short stories. “There’s something different about music as a medium – it’s more visceral... more immediate.” Coupled with an honest and haunting voice, Megan creates a “sound that is both captivating and narcotic." (Metro)
Megan has toured through the east coast of Canada, Quebec and Ontario, and ventured south to play Alabama, Kentucky and a tour through Texas. She has shared the stage with My Morning Jacket, Rock Plaza Central, Nathan Wiley and Sunparlour Players, along with numerous others. See Your Midnight Breath in the Shipyard is released on the artist-run label Familiar Music which Megan founded with friends and continues to operate. The band had an exceptional year playing CMW, touring Quebec and Ontario, playing NXNE, playing the CBC Radio 3 Phog Phest alongside Arkells and Holy Fuck, opening for Pink Mountaintops, to name a few highlights, nevermind the exceptional praise for See Your Midnight Breath... Expect westward touring in the Spring of 2010.