It’s easy to talk to Brendan Canning.
Not only does he welcome you in with a calm, thoughtful demeanour, but there isn’t a trace of ego in the manner he answers questions. Plus, he doesn’t get frazzled easily.
The 43-year-old and longtime Toronto resident has a reputation of being something of a scenester, but as he speaks to me from the kitchen of his Toronto apartment, he is relaxed and approachable given the dilemma that’s presented itself.
“I’m just waiting here to see if my US visas are coming through or not today,” he says. But Canning has a date booked in Boston the next day. Shouldn’t he be hitting the road?
“In theory, yeah,” he says, shrugging off any notion of concern about the following day’s concert.
Canning’s low-stress approach is evident on You Gots 2 Chill, his latest solo release. Released on his own Draper Street Records, You Gots 2 Chill is an endearing collection of bedroom folk that is a marked departure from Canning’s first solo release, the Broken Social Scene Presents… effort, Something For All Of Us.
In line with the patient, relaxed vibe of the entire record, Canning has noted that in composing tracks for You Gots 2 Chill, he would sit on the front porch with his old friend and producer Steve Singh, who Canning says he’s known “since high school.” It was this approach that helped Canning simplify the entire process of making a solo record without the help of his old Broken Social Scene pals, who’re comfortably enjoying a hiatus.
“I definitely didn’t want to be spending nine hours in the studio every day,” he says after being asked if he planned to make the process as easy as possible.
For Canning, who has long been associated with Arts & Crafts, stepping out on his own and creating Draper Street Records with ex-girlfriend Sarah Haywood is less of a business venture and more of, as Canning says, an attempt to keep his message clear.
“Every decision that is made comes about from what we discuss in this kitchen here on Draper Street. It keeps a direct line of communication as far as what sort of message you’re putting out to the public.”
Canning is eager to take You Gots 2 Chill on the road and bring the songs to life with an entirely new collection of musicians. He describes a veritable hodgepodge of musicians from in and around Toronto that will serve as his touring band, lacing his descriptions with terms like “good vibe” and “cool dude.” It might sound pseudo-stoner and slightly phoney if it weren’t for Canning’s pedigree: not only does Canning present himself as relaxed as they come, he seems drawn to others who emanate a similar presence.
“It feels like a band, we got a band photo, I like the look of the band,” he jokes. “It doesn’t look like anyone’s out of place.”
This is Brendan Canning moving forward at his own pace, free of any constraints. It may not be the quickest of speeds, but he’s still able to maintain a career as a musician in Toronto without getting swept up in the promise of the future. He’s got a level head for the time being, as he aims to keep it that way.
“Who knows what the future holds with all of this,” he says. “I’m just taking it day by day.”
Brendan Canning brings You Gots 2 Chill to Park Theatre (Winnipeg) on November 24, the Artery (Edmonton) on November 26, the Commonwealth (Calgary) on November 27, the Media Club (Vancouver) on November 29 and Lucky Bar (Victoria) on November 30.
By Joshua Kloke