Julie Doiron needs no introduction for anyone familiar with SappyFest, Sackville, or the last decade of the Canadian music scene. Doiron cofounded SappyFest in 2006 as an offshoot of the Moncton label Sappy Records. Since then, she has played nearly every year of the festival, appearing as a solo act and as a member in many other bands and collaborations. This year Julie plays with her newest Sackville supergroup Weird Lines. The band features a slew of both Sackville staples and recent imports. Weird Lines is symbol for Sappy’s own mantra: get all your friends together in one place, play music, have fun, and repeat next summer.
We sat down with Julie at the Black Duck Café last week to chat about Sappy's history, songwriting, and how to have a perfect Sunday.
SappyFest has always been a giant family reunion, even for newcomers. This year’s theme is “Bring it On Home,” which is suitable as it features many Sappy Record originals such as yourself and Michael Feuerstack, and reunion shows from the Constantines and Shotgun & Jaybird. What do you think this year will have to add to the family reunion kind of feel that Sappy is all about?
Last year had gotten big, and maybe it wasn’t going to happen this year. The first couple years were really small, and it doesn’t have to be big to be fun. In some ways we’re going back to the beginning, scaling back, returning to the original idea. And it’s always good to have a rebirth.
It’s good to do whatever feels right, to scale it back if it’s getting too big or out of hand. Sappy has always had a good gut instinct, and is good at doing what feels right.
You’ve always been very involved in Sappy, how has your relationship to the festival changed over the years?
I was more of a contact or ambassador at first. In the early years I didn’t even have a computer! I’ve played every year of the festival, except for last year, because Elsie [my daughter] was born a couple days before the weekend. I’m playing twice this year. I’m excited, I like performing.
Sometimes interviewers associate lyrics with artist’s lives in a way that can seem intrusive or assumptive. Do you ever feel that people are making assumptions about your lyrics?
I don’t know if guys get asked those things too. People have had that idea about me, because a lot of my songs are personal, though some that are in the first person are not necessarily about me, they’re about friends of mine. And I think it’s normal for people to ask about that, to want to know what songs are about. Usually if the artist writes about it they’re willing to talk about it. Maybe they write about it to talk about it more.
I tend to write in a very personal way, but I rely heavily on melody [to write lyrics]. I come up with a melody first, base lyrics off of the melody, and go from there. I choose the words somewhat carefully. I try to use simple language that people can identify with. I don’t want to make it too complex. Lyrics are there so there can be a melody.
There’s no particular formula. I feel lucky for being able to write songs at all, it’s a pretty natural thing for me to do.
What’s your ideal Sunday in Sackville?
A good Sunday involves taking a walk and maybe swimming. I love being at my house and in my garden, and if I’m lucky I get to go for a swim. Even in the winter, we go to the pool and swim inside.
Who are you most excited to see this year?
The Constantines. I don’t like picking favourites, but The Constantines. That goes without saying.
Catch Julie at the mainstage on Saturday night at 10PM, and later at the Legion with Weird Lines at midnight.
Check out the latest iPhone ad featuring Doiron's track Life of Dreams.