Folk Music for a New Generation: Canyon's Fresh Take on a Classic Genre

May 01, 2012 11:59 AM

Hailing from Westport, Connecticut; Canyon Sharits is a self-proclaimed "Song Peddler and Storyteller" who takes a confessional approach to all of her melodically distinctive Indie/Folk originals. Accompanied by long-time friend Andrew Maturana who provides percussion on cajon and haunting vocal harmonies, form a uniquely compelling duo that sources influence from the likes of Cat Stevens and Tracy Chapman. Their folk roots are undeniable and organic, even down to Canyon's namesake that comes from lyrics in the song "Thrasher" by Neil Young.

They are currently working on the full-length follow-up CD to the 2010
EP Aeroplanes & Astronauts.

Has music always been a big part of your life, or was it only recently that you discovered a passion for it and began to pursue it as a career?

Canyon: Music has always been a part of my life. I grew up listening to the radio a lot and loved going to the record store and picking out CD’s like every other kid. The first CD I ever remember buying on my own was probably the Evita soundtrack.

Andy: The first CD I owned was Green Day's Dookie.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up?

Andy: My parents listened to a lot of classical music, so growing up I listened to that. But I preferred classic and vintage rock. Bands like, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Beatles. And Recently I have been really into Skrillex and MGMT.

Canyon: My mom only listened to different variations of folk music; so I grew up with Cat Stevens, Joan Baez, Tracy Chapman, and Sarah McLachlan. I count Cat Stevens and Tracy Chapman as huge influences when it comes to my sound. It's funny because only recently did I discover all of the genres that I missed.  I can honestly say that I am just now discovering The Rolling Stones.

Have you guys been playing together long? How did you meet?

Canyon: It's a funny story actually. Andy is my best friend's boyfriend. We met about 5 years ago, but we were both doing our own thing musically. Then 3 years ago, I entered a contest to play at the Bamboozle Music Festival in NJ, but you had to be a band to enter. So I convinced Andy to learn all my songs and join me. We ended up being among the winners who played at the festival. And that's what started everything.

You have described the sound on your debut EP Aeroplanes + Astronauts as folksy. What do you like about that genre of music?

Canyon: We never made a conscious choice to have it sound that way, it sort of happened organically. I think my sound evolved out of what I was able to play…Very stripped down, acoustic guitar. I was playing on my own at the time and it was the only sound I could create. When I partnered up with Andy a couple years ago, he was able to introduce some great vocal harmonies and percussion to the mix.

Andy: The whole creative process is just such an evolution, so were constantly trying to figure it out ourselves. I wouldn't go as far as to say that we're creating a hybrid between two genres, but our sound is kind of a mix of Canyon's folk background with beats laid down behind it. So you get that element of Rock & Roll, but without distortion. It's definitely avant-garde.

Canyon: Yeah, our heads are still spinning.

What is your favorite part about doing this?

Andy: For me it's about playing, feeling hopeful and having a healthy sense of faith in what you're creating with someone. I've been playing music my whole life, but to feel so passionate about a project is everything you can hope for as an artist.

Canyon: I've come to enjoy the challenge of it all. I knew going into this that it was going to be hard, but it's been really rewarding to have had all these hurdles to get over and succeeded.

How long have you been working on the album and when do you expect it to come out?

Andy: We're in the midst of tracking everything and have been working on it for 3 months. We hope it will be done in 2 months, so by July. That's the goal.

Canyon: And we'll be debuting the new look for our website, then as well.

What kind of hurdles have you dealt with?

Canyon: The creative process is really weird, and intangible. When you're in the studio you have multiple minds and ideas all collaborating on a song. And sometimes, parts of the song just wont work; and they won’t work for hours, and you’re banging your head against the wall. And sometimes you just want to give up and go work at McDonald's. But then finally it clicks and you have an "ah ha!" moment, and it's exhilarating.

Any ideas for the album name yet?

Andy: We share a lot of laughs in the studio so I'm sure the name of the album will end up being something goofy, based on an inside joke.


By: Jessica Appelstein

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