Carla Easton is a singer & songwriter, based in Glasgow. She has been performaning and writing music for the all girl-band TeenCanteern. She recieved a Career Development Bursary earlier this year.
In March 2017, I was able to take part in the inaugural Singer Songwriter Residency at the Banff Arts Centre for Creativity in Canada.
2 weeks under mentorship from esteemed songwriters Kim Richey, Don Henry, Matracia Berg, Jeff Hanna and Russel de Carle headed up by the indomitable Kevin Welch and spear headed by the wonderful Allison Brock set in the picturesque mountains of Banff. I was unsure about what to expect but left with more than I could possibly have imagined.
Over the course of the two weeks, each resident had their own studio to work in. We had morning classes to openly discuss song structure and lyric content with our mentors, one on one sessions to perform new works, the opportunity to perform on stage and it was all capped off my each participant having a three hour recording session working with Howard Bilerman as producer in the glorius Telus Studio – packed full of vintage synths with access to just about any instrument you could possibly imagine – working with theWarhol-esque Fats Kaplin playing lap steel guitar, violin and just about any stringed instrument to his disposal.
Importantly, Kevin Welch reminded us all to work to our own individual schedules – everything was optional. If we worked better in the morning he encouraged us to follow that path and miss morning classes, if we didn't feel ready to perform new works we didn't have to but could join in for others sharingtheir new work in the evenings.
In two weeks, colleagues quickly intensify into friends. Bands were forming – we were eager to support each other sonically in the realisation of new works. 24 participants soon developed their own peer-to-peer learning and sharing relationships. A mix of studios with windows looking out onto snow covered mountain tops with sleepy elks wandering by, or cosy wooden huts winding through mountain paths – these became our safe spaces to play and sing. By the second week, doors were left open, the tentative tapping knocks of each resident announcing their presence and wanting to come into a studio weren't needed anymore – we would just walk in. Pull up a chair or sit on the floor, tune a guitar and join in or sit at the piano and play along to new compositions, crafted with care in this mountain wilderness. In the morning or late into the night we would sing with each other or listen. We supported each other.
I've never felt more accepted in all my life. I've never felt more able to freely discuss my hopes and fears about writing and playing. More importantly I've never felt so understood. 24 people of varying ages and varying backgrounds, working in varying genres but all with the same love of music, thrust together for two intensive weeks in the mountains. I left Banff with 4 new songs, 2 fully recorded tracks ready to be mixed, 23 new friends and a reignited fire and determination for melody, structure, lyrics and song.
I made big changes to my lifestyle since returning home to Scotland to allow me more time to write. As a result I will be going back to Canada to some more recording and continue to build, collaborate, develop and finish new work.
I can never thank Help Musicians UK enough for allowing me to have this life experience by supporting me on this residency.