In the spring of 2017, Ron Sex Smith moved from Toronto to Stratford, On.
Since then the artist, whose music has received critical acclaim around the world, has performed and participated in many community events.
On Monday, August 20 Stratford Summer Music presents the première performance of Sexsmith’s new “Songs from Deer Life,” which draws from his 2017 novel “Deer Life.” Reviews of the debut novel were excellent with Now Magazine celebrating the “prose that Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern and Audrey Niffenegger fans will admire.” Publisher’s Weekly wrote “Sexsmith’s novel has much the same effect as his music, conveying uncertainty with fearlessness and heart.”
At the upcoming concert Sexsmith is collaborating on stage with musicians from Stratford’s INNERchamber, featuring music director Andrew Chung, vocalist Barbara Fulton, narrator Mike Nadajewski and orchestrations by Ben Bolt-Martin.
Dayna Manning grew up in a musical family in Stratford. Like Sexsmith, she’s toured North America and has received international acclaim for her songwriting.
I asked the longtime Stratford resident to pose five questions to the new resident.
1) Your first novel “Deer Life” was recently published. What inspired you to move into the literary world from songwriting and how has this change inspired or challenged you?
It was basically the story itself that inspired me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it after it first presented itself to me back in 2012.
It was a huge challenge just trying figure out what to do with it.
At first, I thought it was an idea for a movie musical, which I’m writing. But it was a fellow from Penguin books who encouraged me to write it as a novel first…which was an enormously daunting task. Anyway, I’m very proud of the book and it’s a lot more personal than people might suspect. I’m sure my inexperience shines through on every page, but I did the best I could.
2) When you write a song, do you know if it’s good great straight away? In your experience, what is a particular quality that makes a great song?
For me, I look for something in it that seems familiar or like it’s always been there. That’s when I know it’s meant to be.
3) You’ve worked with so many of the world’s greatest producers, and record makers. Who taught you some of the most important lessons in a recording session and what were they?
I learn a great deal from Mitchell Froom every time we work together.
We’ve done 5 records over the years, and he’s the kind of producer they don’t make anymore. He comes from that era of solid arrangements and pre-production before going into the studio which has always made sense to me.
4) The music industry has changed so much over your career. What do you miss and what do you prefer now?
Sometimes I miss the excitement of those early days even though I never sold very many records. I miss the generous recording budgets we used to get back then and tour buses etc. There’s not too much that I prefer now, except that I’m happy I got in the door when I did and that I have relatively established career.
5) Do you have a favourite hobby that isn’t related to your career in any way?
My wife bought me a lawn mower for Fathers Day and I’ve been enjoying mowing the lawn…other than that I like walking, listening to records and drawing sometimes.
Ron Sexsmith presents songs from Deer Life
Monday, August 20, 7 pm
Click for details and ticket info.
Click here for “Deer Life” on Amazon.
Here’s my podcast with bassist Murray Foster (Moxy Fruvous, Great Big Sea) who is currently working on a new musical with the producers of “Come From Away.”