What: Andy Shauf with Scattered Clouds
Where: Sugar (858 Yates St.)
When: Sunday, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $18.50 at Lyle’s Place and Ticketfly.com
Music-industry machinations — glitzy award shows, high-profile tour appearances, media plaudits and the like — appear to be of little interest to Andy Shauf. But that doesn’t mean the outwardly shy and soft-spoken performer is able to avoid them.
The hype surrounding his sophomore album, The Party, has placed the Regina-reared musician among the country’s top songwriting talents, a position that has resulted in some expectations. Shauf admits that he has struggled to appreciate what he has achieved so far. But he is slowly becoming more at home in the limelight.
He recently moved from Regina, where he had spent the majority of his adult life, to an apartment in Toronto, where the business end of his career is now based.
“Moving to the big city was weird,” Shauf said last week from Winnipeg, where his tour to support The Party got underway. “I’m used to Regina where I know all the people and can drive around and find a parking spot. I own this giant van, so that’s the bane of my existence right now in Toronto.”
Shauf was in the process of moving when he last played Victoria, a concert in June at the Royal Theatre that saw him open for k.d. lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs, his labelmates in the U.S. on the Anti- record label (he is on the Arts & Crafts imprint in Canada). Soon after his Vancouver Island date, it was announced that The Party would compete for $50,000 as a finalist in the 2016 Polaris Music Prize, one of the country’s top musical honours.
He was asked to perform live at the gala, which he did with some nervousness. He was caught by surprise when a video message from Grammy Award-winner Jeff Tweedy of Wilco was shown at the ceremony. “I hope he comes to Chicago and makes some music with me some day,” Tweedy said of Shauf in the clip. “We have a very similar curiosity about music, except that I really get the sense that he knows what he’s doing a lot more than I do.”
He didn’t win the trophy, but the experience of playing live on CBC television was enough of a privilege, Shauf said. “It was definitely an honour to be included, but the evening was super-stressful,” he admitted. “We had two songs to perform, which shouldn’t be difficult, but I had this stomach ache all night.
“As soon as the [winners’] announcement was made, my stomach ache went away. I guess I was super-stressed for the announcement, so it was weird. There is a lot of anticipation and you think about it for so long, but I wasn’t disappointed that I lost.”
Shauf has been touring heavily to support the record in the U.S. and the U.K., where it has drawn raves. While he played most of the instruments on The Party — along with writing, arranging and producing the album — he will be joined by a crack three-piece when he lands in Victoria for his Sunday show at Sugar.
For the audience, it will feel less like a song cycle in concert than it does on the record, which is a good thing for the audience, Shauf said. “It’s a record about one party, with all these things going on, but there’s no real narrative that goes front to back. It’s just little snippets throughout the night.”
His debut, 2015’s The Bearer of Bad News, was recorded at his parents’ house “when I was completely broke,” Shauf said. The Party was recorded at an old CBC broadcast studio in downtown Regina, an experience that might lead to new sonic avenues on future recordings. He will likely return to a studio of some sort in 2017, with plans to follow The Party with another batch of ethereal folk-pop.
Up first, however, is a North American tour that runs until early December.
Shauf is cautious about the task ahead. Re-staging The Party, a concept album about a party as told from several perspectives, has not been easy. “That record is very much based on vibe; it’s a really simple record, so you’d think that would be super easy to play live. But when it comes time to interpret them, there is something missing all the time.”