Music Q&A: Poor Nameless Boy

His name is in fact Joel Henderson, a Canadian folk singer-songwriter with songs that are truly personal and honest. He plays Liverpool Sound City this weekend (27-28 May)

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Good stories. Real emotions. I’m envious of stand-up comedians these days because they have no fear. They jump into the most difficult subjects to talk about and they find the laughter within it. I’m informed by good story tellers, good people and heavy contemplation of what’s important in this world.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
I’ve been heavily influenced by 1960s pop and soul, 1990s R&B, and North American indie folk over the last 10 years. I used to write songs because I felt real emotions about them. The biggest evolution is simply being comfortable telling quality tales from a stage. It’s easy to play music, it’s slightly less easy to sing well, it’s crazy tough to connect heart to heart in a world full of distractions. I hope I’ve improved in all of those categories. It’s pure communication.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?

Currently, I’m over in the UK for three major showcasing festivals and a smattering of tour dates, trying to keep my eyes open for the true experiences. I’m in writing mode these days. When that happens I’m very contemplative and I jot down a ton of thoughts all day long in my back pocket notepad. After this, going to go home to write some more, continue booking Canadian dates and watching cartoons in the evenings.

What’s on your rider?
Whatever Stephanie, my manager, puts on it. Honestly, I’m not very picky. If there is water for me to drink then I’m happy. I should probably put fresh fruit on it though. No melons though. Melons are a useless fruit.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.

With music? Last fall I came over to play the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany. I played four songs on the top of this gigantic outdoor stage while everyone was eating their greasy meat. People literally put down their sausages to listen to me sing more intently. It was beautiful, in the strangest of ways. I’ll save my truly embarrassing stories for the stage. Good heavens, they are awful.

What song do you wish you’d have written?

This is such a great question. Last time someone asked me this I went on and on about how great a song Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye is. However, there is a tune by a band called The Weepies which blows me away every time. They manage to capture the immobile feeling one is engulfed in after a hard breakup. It’s called World Spins Madly On and it still ruins me.

What’s your worst lyric?

I remember bringing a handful of songs into a songwriting class when I was 20. I felt like I was brilliant and my songs would change history. Looking back on the now I can realise they were absolutely dreadful and my songwriting teacher was very patient with me. One song I simply made up a word because I thought it sounded terrific. It ended up being the song title, which is even worse. Back then I talked about girl’s eyes and smiles a lot. Oooooof.

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