Let’s get this out of the way up front: Kathleen Edwards is dating Justin Vernon of the Grammy- winning Bon Iver, who also produced her latest record, Voyageur, which she wrote while going through a divorce. But that’s hardly the whole story.
The Canadian singer/songwriter has been releasing great Americana (Canadiana?) records since 2003, when she was discovered at SXSW after years of touring her homeland as an unsigned act. Her latest LP is her biggest departure yet, combining the lusher textures of Vernon’s production with her tuneful country-rock. We chatted with Edwards about the record, her time spent in Seattle with our own John Roderick, and her herd of cats.
Does it make you uncomfortable to have your personal life so closely tied to the press for this record?
Yeah, it’s been hard. There’s nothing nicer than being reminded that you have someone awesome in your life—and that part’s amazing. But there are times when it makes you feel a little bit like, “You know, I actually have a musical spine of my own, and I’ve kind of done some shit before I had a boyfriend that everyone knew.”
There’s not a lot of self-deprecation on this record, whereas your previous outings had songs like “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like” and “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory.” Were you feeling particularly serious this time?
I don’t want to sound like a fucking drama queen, but I went through the hardest two years I’ve ever had, so yeah, I guess unintentionally I was serious a lot. I think there’s some really hopeful moments on the record—like the opening track, which is a song I wrote after hanging out with John Roderick for a week in Seattle. I was like, “Holy fuck, I’m ready to take on anything! I’m excited to, like, move to Georgetown and hang out at that awesome coffee shop every day of my life and hang out at the Aviation Museum.” He’s such a great lyricist and great writer, and he basically became my editor. He really helped me carve out some different ideas lyrically and arrangement-wise.
You seem to tweet a lot about your cats. Can you tell me about them? And isn’t your Twitter handle @kittythefool?
My nickname is Kitty and one of my cat’s names is Mr. T, so when I got my cat, someone was like, “Hey, Kitty the Fool.” I’m 33 and I have no children. You’re damn straight I have a lot of pictures of my cats!