Ken Wallis Chats With Canadian Singer-Songwriter, Musician & Producer Andre Bisson
By Ken Wallis.
Andre Bisson just had a release party for this 11th album, entitled Latchford. We conducted an interview with him a while ago, and thought we’d share the rest of the interview that has not been documented. Andre was recently honoured with a Maple Blues nomination as Songwriter of the Year. His partner and trumpet player Loretta was nominated as horn player of the year.
Ken Wallis Interviewed Andre Bisson for the radio show BluesSource Cananda. The following are excerpts from that interview, amended and edited for brevity and clarity.
Andre you are blessed working with so many special musicians. Loretta Hale has been with you from the early beginnings at Mohawk College. Tell us how you two got together.
I met Loretta at Mohawk. We were doing a rehearsal and the trumpet player we usually played with happened to be away that day. So, one of the other guys said, let's bring Loretta in. She sat in with the band and stayed ever since. She's been such a great support for the band. When you're doing this, especially on your own, it can be really tough to work your ideas and go through the challenges. But having somebody when you explain your ideas, even if they don't quite understand what you mean, it's hard for them to see the vision, especially when it's in your own head. Having Loretta’s support is great. To have her support and have her by my side, helping out and doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, just having somebody in your corner that can take care of some of the other details, it's such a huge thing for us. It's the reason I can do what I do and on top of that, she's a fantastic trumpet player, but also cello player as well. It was really helpful when I started writing for strings. I think the importance is as I do more and more, is to have the people on your team that you work with right. And that's what I see, it's a team of people that you can count on, and you all have the same goal in mind. I'll come up with something and she’ll say that was great. It can motivate each other. I think it’s so important and I'm very lucky to have Loretta in my band.
You've shared the stage with quite a few different musicians. Is there one person that stands out in your mind?
There's a lot of really good ones. I think one that you learn from. I can say definitely one would be Pat Carey, that we still play with because to me, he's the all-round musician. You start finding that some of the people you play with are good musicians but they're also really great people, and there's a philosophy to them. And that's something that's just as important as being a good player. I think in this day, to have that passion, it's something that motivates. When somebody's like that, they bring everybody around them to a new level and their level goes up too, with just their energy and the way that they play. I’ve played with Pat so many times but every time he plays a solo I'm still blown away and it motivates me. I think some of the other people in the band, we all kind of go okay, we gotta go practice some more because that's the bar right there. You always want to be playing as much as you can with people who you feel are at a higher level than you, because that always brings you up to that level. So, it's always a state of self-improvement, but also with someone like him and some of the other players.
You’ve won all kinds of awards and garnered lots of fans. But one occasion I thought was really great was when you were invited to perform at The Cavern during Beatles week,
That was another big milestone we had. We had played in the UK a few times. and we just kept upping it and upping it, and that time it was our kind of biggest tour over there and we just ended up there. Sometimes it's as simple as just asking and saying hey we have this product, we have this band, do you think it would fit? And they said yes. I say that for a lot of musicians, the worst they're going to say is no. You'd be surprised how many times I think in my career, where I've asked musicians if they wanted to play with our band, and I thought they'd probably say no. You just ask and more times than not usually people will say yes. Like playing where the Beatles started their career. Talk about inspiration, to be in the same town where it all began, it was fantastic.
You do a fair amount of mentoring new artists. Do you enjoy teaching student musicians?
Yes, for multiple reasons because first of all, it exposes you to so much more music. Even my own writing is sometimes influenced by stuff I would never listen to necessarily, but if you have a student saying I'm really into this band or this type of music, then I have to learn that music in order to teach it. When I do that, so many great ideas that I have come up in my arranging style has not come from music that I would necessarily listen to on my own time, but because I've spent maybe multiple lessons learning and picking up these great ideas. Also, when you're teaching, it's a great way to figure out how to motivate people to learn and why it's difficult to practice. Then it reflects on yourself, to work through these techniques of how to motivate myself in a practice and not procrastinate. I love being around students when they are so really excited about playing. That's the same kind of energy that you build off of and there's a real sense of purpose.
What keeps you going in your career? What's your inspiration for getting up on that stage?
I think it's just the feeling that you get. I always feel like there's always a message, we all have in our personality, something that we want to get out there. For me, music is the way to do it and I can do it through metaphor. I'm not telling people how to live their lives or how to think, but I'm just presenting ideas and saying think about this and draw your own conclusions from it. For myself, it's just the feeling of performing is always the main thing. I also feel when I see people in the crowd, and if they're enjoying, you can take people away from the stresses of their lives just for even one song. Whatever it is, you can feel that in bigger crowds, a kind of positivity that comes through. You can feel that, you can see it as people are watching you and I think that every time I perform I'm more excited too.
Recently Andre Bisson released his 11th Album entitled Latchford. Here some pics from that CD release party.
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