“The amazing thing about teaching (Grade 1) is that you’re responsible for all the curriculum, so you’re not just specializing in history or geography,” says Lou Canon, a 28-year-old Toronto-based elementary school teacher who moonlights as a songwriter.
“It allows you to have a lot of freedom in the classroom (because) it’s in some ways open to interpretation, so it was a lot of fun teaching because you can do theme-based learning and you can bring in music as much as you want, or use art to teach math or language.”
A native of rural southern Ontario, Canon moved to Toronto for university and never looked back.
She found a creative outlet in teaching young children, composing and singing songs in her spare time, and was fortunate to be able to combine her passions, she says.
“In terms of bringing music into the classroom, I’ve always been a singer so I feel like when I’m thinking I’m singing, so bringing the arts into the classroom came very natural to me.”
But last Christmas a simple twist of fate veered Canon’s path in a different direction when her brother-in-law, acclaimed indie-folk musician Hayden Desser, drew her name in the Canon family’s annual gift exchange.
“Hayden offered to record a couple of my songs in his studio just for fun,” Canon explains. “We started working on a couple and I think we were just both pleasantly surprised and excited with what was coming out of it, so we sat down and talked about it and said, well let’s make an EP together.”
Hayden’s first venture producing for an artist other than himself went so well, says Canon, that “he said let’s just make a full-length album together. It was a bit of a happy accident. We didn’t go in intending to make a full-length album, but that’s what came out of it.”
The result is a buoyant collection of 10 tunes that, coming from a music scene which seems to have mothered a redundant post-Broken Social Scene trend as of late, have obvious influences in Feist and, of course, Hayden, but sound fresh in their simple honesty and honest simplicity.
Moored by a Haydenesque catchy piano line throughout, “Here as a Ghost” recalls a past relationship in a spirited timbre.
And though they address the tragedy of personal relationships, “Heart Of” and “In Fall” are other shining examples of Canon’s heartfelt optimism.
Her songs read as a diary and, as it turns out, for good reason.
“When I’m working on something it’s almost coming straight from my journal, and it’s just like living in a moment and feeling certain emotions and dealing with everyday life,” Canon explains. “When I started writing these songs it wasn’t necessarily (that) I intended or even thought I would be, I guess, performing them for an audience. It was, on a more personal level, something I was doing for myself. And for me it’s just a healthy way of dealing with everyday life, where things were headed with my relationship at the time.
“Music is amazing to share with other people ... although oddly enough when I was working on the package for my album I didn’t include the lyrics (because) I didn’t know if I was ready for that yet. In the same way, when I’m playing something new for my mother she comes and reads the lyrics over my shoulder and I’m like, ‘Stop it! You’re reading my diary right now!” she laughs. “But I’m getting used to it.”
Canon performs at the Inn of Olde in Quidi Vidi tonight at 10 p.m. She will be joined by local acts All The Wiles, Mathias Kom, Steve Maloney and Andrew James O’Brien. On Saturday she will make an appearance at Fred’s Records on Duckworth St. at 2 p.m.
For more information visit: www.loucanon.com.