She is just a Saskatchewan girl who loves music and is looking forward to her next tour.
Belle Plaine and Fifteen Two will be playing at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre in Prince Albert on Oct. 20.
© Photo by Michael Bell Photography
Belle Plaine (left) will be performing at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Oct. 20 with special guest Anna Rose (right).
Regina artist Plaine has been singing and interested in music as far back as she can remember.
“My earliest memories are of me singing to my dog and I’ve always sang,” Plaine said. “My parents put me in voice lessons when I was pretty young in Grade 1. I sang all through elementary and high school in my hometown of Rose Valley.”
After graduating from college, Plaine went on to continue her performing career, studying voice at Grant McEwan College.
“Then I sort of took a break from music and I didn’t come back to it for a number of years but I’ve been doing it professionally now for about three years,” Plaine said. “I’ve had this build up of need to do it because I had left it for so long.”
After finishing college, Plaine didn’t plan on moving back to Saskatchewan, life just brought her back to the province. She fell in love with an Australian in Victoria and moved to Sydney for a year.
“The plan was we were going to come back to Saskatchewan for six months so I could see my family and then we were going to move to Montreal,” Plaine said.
When they were in Regina in 2006, the couple broke up and Plaine stayed in the city.
“It is kind of an unintentional home but that’s where I am now and I’ve really grown to love a lot of people who are there and I collaborate with,” Plaine said.
Although the music scene in Regina is smaller than larger centres, Plaine said it is not necessarily a bad thing.
“It is good and bad in some ways,” Plaine said. “You can feel really good about your community because it is a tight community but in a smaller centre there are less opportunities, there is less perception from the outside, less national attention in what is going on in Regina versus what is going on in a major centre.
“Them’s the breaks when you live in a smaller community,” she added.
Since Regina is a more central location in Canada, Plaine said it is a great starting point when planning a tour.
“It is a great place to live for touring because you can go either way in the country versus living in Vancouver, where you can only go one direction -- or south, I guess,” Plaine said.
And she is proud to be part of the thriving Saskatchewan music scene.
“As far as a music scene in Saskatchewan, I think the whole Saskatchewan scene is very healthy right now,” Plaine said. “There are a lot of bands that are doing great work and are inspiring people to pay attention to what is happening. I could name a huge list of people.
“I’m really inspired by those people because they chose to be in Saskatchewan,” she noted. “It is not like they can’t move somewhere else, they choose to be here and I do too so I really appreciate that.”
Singing is an important part of Plaine’s life and she loves to perform.
“Singing has always been something that has come really naturally to me and I just truly love being on stage,” Plaine said. “I don’t get the fears of being on stage or any kinds of stage fright. I feel really natural and love working with other musicians. It is kind of like having a conversation with everybody at stage at the same time where you all get to talk at once.”
Collaborating with other artists on stage is an amazing experience, she said.
“You really get to contribute with each other and get to know your players, you can hear more in what they are playing than just notes,” Plaine said. “You hear who they are, their phrasing and sometimes I feel like I can hear what they are going through or how into the playing they are. All of those things, it is so rewarding.”
In Prince Albert, not only will Plaine have her regular band playing with her -- her bass player Elizabeth Curry and “musical Swiss Army knife” Jeremy Sauer -- she will also be collaborating with Anna Rose.
“She’s magic,” Plaine said. “She is a backup singer and she makes everything sound sweet and beautiful.”
Plaine calls herself a singer-songwriter since she enjoys playing many different styles of music.
“I love to sing jazz, I love to sing country, I love to sing folk songs, I love to sing old blues songs,” Plaine said. “I love to sing is what it really boils down to. For me, it doesn’t matter what the genre is, it matters what the emotion and intent behind the song is.”
The band writes their own songs, but Plaine has no problem playing other people’s music as well.
“We write a lot of our own stuff but I have no problem playing songs other people have written,” Plaine said.
When writing, there is no one inspiration Plaine relies on to write.
“I’m in a process of mostly writing right now and doing less touring,” Plaine said.
There are a few different places she turns to find inspiration, since there are many things that give her a cause to write about.
“Solitude is a big inspiration for me, time to let myself remember and go back to any sort of intense emotion or writing for people,” Plaine said. “Sometimes you will read something in the paper and it is not about you but it really brings sympathy or anger or give rise to some intense feeling. That can be cause for inspiration. Sometimes it is just a thousand tiny little things that get put together because they have a seam. There is no one thing. It is a very imperfect (art) I find, but I’m learning it.”
Another place Plaine finds inspiration is through other artists she listens to. Currently she is listening to Dwight Yoakam, Neko Case and Buck 65.
“Buck 65 is a Canadian artist,” Plaine said. “He is an incredible lyricist. He is a rap artist, but the way he conveys emotion through his lyrics I find really inspiring.”
She has also loves Charles Bradley, an American R&B singer.
“He is like a James Brown impersonator who has struck out with his own career,” Plaine said. “He is more James Brown than James Brown, so it is awesome.”
Plaine said there have been many interesting stories throughout her time touring, but the one that sticks out the most was her first tour in Ontario.
“I didn’t tour when I was a 20-year-old,” Plaine said. “I went on tour when I was 30 and that changes your perspective of acceptance and the way you expect to be treated. I think when you are younger, you will be in for the fun of it and as an older musician, you realize it is not actually good for your health and you are not doing this for anything but work.”
The booking agent at the venue Plaine and her band were playing in offered them shabby hotel rooms that were not very secure. When the band expressed concern that the rooms could be easily broken into, the agent was not very helpful.
“As musicians you have a lot of expensive gear with you and the amount of concern we were afforded by our booking person at the venue was he asked if we had insurance,” Plaine said. “I think it was not very compassionate when you say you are concerned with your things being stolen and he says, ‘Don’t you have insurance?’”
They decided to take matters into their own hands, she said.
“We actually opted to go off with a journalist, who seemed to be a sympathetic character, into a cabin in the woods that had been broken into by a bear earlier that week,” Plaine laughed. “We felt that was safer to be with a stranger in the woods with the potential of a bear waking us than staying in a hotel.”
Plaine is excited for the upcoming tour. Before she heads to the Rawlinson Centre, she will be playing a show in a community close to her hometown, hosted by friends of her mother, and a house concert in Tisdale, which is where her grandmother lives.
“Every show is going to be entirely different from the previous one and will be filled with really warm people,” Plaine said. “We are really excited about this show. We have been really relaxed lately, so this is a nice way to get back into the swing of things.”
Tickets for her show in Prince Albert are available at the box office or online and her two albums, Hello from Belle Plaine and Notes From a Waitress will be available that night.