Today our Spotlight – Alicia Toner. Hailed as a top Canadian Song-writer Alicia is set to release her next album. We sit down and chat about her new single Joke’s on Me which is out now. Check it out
Your recently released album “Joan” has been described as “Full of hooks, masterful vocals, compelling lyrics, and top-notch production, “Joan” is a collection of songs that demands your attention.” What else can you tell us about it? What does it reveal about you as an artist?
“Joan” is a deeply personal project which is where the title comes from. Joan is my middle name and one used by those closest to me. It’s a name that represents parts of me not everyone gets to see, much like the songs on this album.
How was working with Stuart Cameron and Peter Fusco?
They are two of my favorite people to work with. They are avid music lovers/listeners which fuels their creativity for each project. Their ideas are fantastic but they also always listen to mine and fuse them together. Every day working with them is fun.
What’s the story behind “Joke’s on Me?” What was the writing and recording process like?
“Joke’s On Me” is about the internal struggle when you’re in a bad situation. When you’re waiting for someone to come and save you, you’re really waiting for yourself. I wrote this song as a folk-y train song that really moved but when brought to Stuart and Peter, it morphed into this cool Indie rock song. In the studio I rewrote the chorus, the entire form was changed and a very solid track was born.
Did you feel any culture shock moving from the vast, waterside province of New Brunswick to Toronto? Currently, you are based in PEI. Does that feel more like home?
I’m from Fredericton so there was only a river in sight but I had to get used to the big city when I moved there after high school. I loved my time in Toronto and I miss my community there but PEI feels like home. I started coming here in 2012 and every time I left, I was biding my time until I could come back again.
Are you currently balancing music and acting or are you focusing on your new album right now?
I’ll never close the door on acting but right now I’m focusing on my own music.
How have your different backgrounds (Your acting career, your classical music training, growing up on folk) influenced each other? Do you find these influences blend together or do you prefer to keep them separate?
Even if I wanted to keep them separate, I couldn’t. Everything in my life influences my writing. I don’t write musical theatre songs but my training helps me sing them. I don’t write classical violin parts but my training helps me play different lines than a fiddle player would. I’m wouldn’t classify myself as a folk musician but I write very folk-based songs.
Having experienced so much success in many different areas of your career, do you still feel scared to embrace new things?
All the time but I don’t let it stop me from doing it. Fear usually means I care so much that I’m afraid of failing. If I care that much, I must be doing something I’m passionate about.
How is that adorable little baby doing? Not too long before she’s a year old.
She is more than I imagined she’d be in every way. She keeps me busy and grounded and when she’s not trying to bite my nose off or yank my hair out, she is the cutest thing you ever did see.
What do you think the world needs to know about mothers in the music industry?
I’m still new here so I only have a new mother’s perspective and I’ll only speak for myself. Whenever you see a social media post, hear a radio interview, see a live performance is coming up, everything you see was so hard to get done.
There were most likely tears involved or anxiety over getting home in time to feed her/finding someone to watch her or loading her in the car because that’s where she might be the quietest for your radio interview and bringing her favorite crackers to bribe her so you can talk about your art. It’s hard when you are full-time mom-ing and trying to full-time musician it as well. Both jobs suffer and you can feel like you aren’t thriving in either one. That being said, being able to do what I love is like a reset button. When I’m done, I can’t wait to get home and be with her.
You played a live show over in PEI not too long ago. How was playing a live show after so long?
It was incredible.
For every new release, you take concept photos in all different poses, lightings, and colors. Do you have a favorite photoshoot you did? Which was the most difficult?
My favorite might be this album cover shoot, taken by the incredible Colton Curtis. I loved it because it was the most stripped-down shoot I’ve ever done. Another favorite and the most difficult was the Dangerous Home photoshoot. It dealt with a lot of struggles but was my most creative shoot to date and I adore working with Sam Gaetz of Gaetz Photography.
Now that the album is completed, what have you learned about your own music that you want to channel into your next album?
I’ve learned that I like to push my own boundaries. The next album will push them further.
Across your social media platforms, you are a big advocator. Mental health issues, indigenous rights and freedoms, LGBT, and the inclusion of your pronouns in your Twitter bio. Since it is pride month after all I know I speak for a big group of people when I say thank you for being so inclusive. Is advocating something that is important to you?
As a privileged, white cis female, advocating on social media is the bare minimum I can do. Sharing a post is easy, having the tough conversations in real life is hard and I want to not only be an advocate for that but a daily practitioner. I’ve been guilty in the past of letting the racist comment slide because calling it out would make the room uncomfortable. It’s HIGH time we white, cis-gendered folks get uncomfortable with our complacency.
What do you think about the music scene over on the East Coast? What flare do you bring to the table over there?
The music scene out here is on steroids. There are so many incredible artists and any one of them could make it big-time. I’m not sure what my “flare” is out here but I sure do know how to hire great musicians to play with me and make me look good.
Finally, what is a small Canadian business/charity/cause you think could use a shout-out right now?
Mi’kmaq Printing & Design is a relatively new business in Charlottetown that deserves your attention. Their mission is to bring Indigenous teachings to life through product design and development. They have a few different clothing collections to choose from but I just purchased an “Every Child Matters” orange shirt to wear on Canada Day. Here is their website: https://www.mikmaqprinting.com
Spotlight – Alicia Toner is a wrap. Big thanks to Alicia for taking the time to chat with us.
Check out Jokes on Me right now
Keep up with Alicia right here
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