Accordion in hand

Justin Brake
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Manitoba songstress Ingrid Gatin back in St. John’s this week for a trio of performances

Ingrid Gratin says some of her favourite bands used accordion and she was inspired to learn the instrument. — Submitted photo

If you caught one of Ingrid Gatin’s St. John’s performances last spring you’ll be happy as a clam to know Manitoba’s accordion-wielding songstress is putting the finishing touches on her sophomore album and breaking for a short East Coast swing.

If, on the other hand, you weren’t there when she hosted folk night at The Ship or seduced an entranced Rose & Thistle crowd with her sultry vocals, songs and stage presence, you have three chances to catch her this time around — so there’s no excuse.

The 25-year-old Manitoba songwriter now makes her home in Montreal, where she’s working with producer and former Arcade Fire drummer Howard Bilerman on her new record.

Gatin learned piano at an early age, then mandolin, an instrument that led her to bluegrass jams in her native Winnipeg.

Itching to diversify even more, she picked up a piano accordion, an instrument featured in some of her favourite bands.

“It just seemed like an instrument that really added a cool sound to a band,” she says via telephone from Montreal, hours before the first show of her tour.

“By my first album, I had only been playing accordion for two years. I remember this first show that I played accordion — I thought, wow, I have no idea what’s going on right now,” she continues.

“I literally had no training, so I just started writing my own music on the accordion. That almost made it easier in a way for me because I’ve been playing my own music on the accordion (and) that made me feel comfortable with it. And now I’ve been playing for six years and I really like switching from accordion to piano — it’s a really nice mix of sounds.”

Gatin debuted her “Broken Tambourine” EP in 2010 and began building a fan base in Manitoba and, after her national tour last year, across the country.

When she started contemplating her next record she went straight to Bilerman, who recorded Arcade Fire’s 2004 breakthrough album “Funeral” and has since collaborated with Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Vic Chesnutt, Basia Bulat and other notable acts.

“My favourite Canadian bands are ones that Howard has engineered and worked with, so I asked him if he was interested and he said yes,” she recalls, her voice full of enthusiasm.

With half the album recorded Gatin broke for a few months to complete an artist residency in Sackville, N.B., where she was inspired to pen some more tunes.

“Then I decided I might as well move to Montreal for a time and finish the album here,” she says. “So that’s what I’m doing for a little while.”

With only a few vocal tracks to record Gatin says the album should be released in November. To fill out her time, having sowed her musical seeds across the nation, she is doing what she loves to do — roam the vast Canadian landscape and play music.

Gatin returns to host folk night at The Ship on Wednesday. She will also play The Grapevine Thursday and, alongside her St. John’s counterparts Katie Baggs and Joanna Barker, the LSPU Hall Friday evening.


Organizations: The Ship

Geographic location: Manitoba, Montreal, East Coast Winnipeg.Itching Sackville

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