Aidan Knight with Andy Shauf
When: Tonight, 8 p.m. (doors at 7: 30)
Where: Alix Goolden Performance Hall (907 Pandora Ave.)
Tickets: $18 at Lyle's Place, Ditch Records and ticketweb.ca
The pattern during the recording of Small Reveal was a simple one for Victoria singer-songwriter Aidan Knight. Get a great performance down first, and worry about the technical aspects later.
"The only way I've ever known how to make music is a real trial-by-fire thing, where you're trying to capture that moment when everything is chaos," Knight said. "When everything comes together, that's the great idea."
Knight and his band came up with plenty of great ideas during the sessions for Small Reveal, his second full-length outing.
Breaking from popular tradition, in which a band sets up in a studio to record, the singer-songwriter and his bandmates - Olivier Clements, Julia Wakal, David Barry and Colin Nealis - set up their instruments in a cabin on Protection Island, near Nanaimo, for a week. They put some of the results on tape for posterity, but ditched others. Ultimately, they used the sojourn as a long, drawn-out rehearsal for the series of sessions that would follow.
The band was jotting ideas down as they went, an on-the-fly approach that Knight was especially fond of. "It creates all these other things - mistakes - which I really like."
Knight and his band-mates could have gone into a professional studio, but that would have cost more money, and with more money comes more pressure. At the end of the two-year process, work with producer Jonathan Anderson had been completed on the fly at various locales, including the Larsen School of Music on Cook Street.
"It was a mountain of work. There's easy ways to do things, but we don't have a lot of money to do them. But we have the drive to try and do it ourselves, so we learn a lot more through that process."
The recording arrived Oct. 23 on the Outside Music label, home to Sloan, Black Mountain, the Sadies and Besnard Lakes, among others. The new deal with Outside made sense for Knight, an acclaimed singer-songwriter with a gift for prose but a lack of business expertise. In return for allowing him to make the record he wanted, Knight - who placed fifth in 2010 at Vancouver's Peak Performance Project - rewarded the label with an album that will most certainly make waves in the indie rock community across the country.
"You need people to help you out in the Canadian musical landscape," he said. "I want to make it the best it can possibly be for the amount of money we have - which means we try to make these big things on micro-budgets."
Knight and his close-knit group of collaborators (he also plays with Wakal, his girlfriend, in the Victoria group Bucan Bucan) have already been to Saskatchewan and back in support of the record.
The band escaped unhurt when their van, pulling a trailer full of gear, skidded off the road near Calgary on Oct. 23, the day Knight turned 26 (ironically, it was also the day Small Reveal arrived in stores). The group played it safe and put the vehicle into the shop, which led to the cancellation of shows in Regina and Winnipeg.
"It was one of those trailer catching-the-ice-wrong moments," said Knight. "If the trailer had been loose, we probably would have rolled."
Music has always come relatively easily to Knight. He wrote his first song at 16, and had been in three bands by the time he graduated from high school. Knight said he hasn't kept in touch with many of his former bandmates from the former groups he is most associated with, including Black Tie Social, Counting Heartbeats and Maurice.
He doesn't have a bad word to say about them, but finds it odd that they aren't in his life at the moment. "It's weird to share creative parts of yourself, yet have this separation sometimes."
His current situation features the best band bonhomie yet, even though he writes all the lyrics (the band collaborates on the music, Knight said).
He used to call his band the Family Friends, in part because of the rotating lineup. But the core group has provided him with stability over the past year or two, something he feels is evident on Small Reveal.
"It's nice not to be the 'solo guy,' even though my name is in the forefront and there's photos of me. I still like having the control, but it has changed now."