5 Questions with Jon Middleton of Jon and Roy

Victoria folk band Jon and Roy have been busy making music since 2005. The two musicians independently released their eighth album, By My Side, in May, available for purchase online. The band has been touring extensively throughout Canada in support of the album, ending their tour at Rifflandia festival recently. Band Member Jon Middleton recently spoke with Emmett Robinson Smith about touring and different aspects of the album.

You’ve been touring pretty heavily in support of your new album, By My Side. Has this tour been different from others?

In some ways it has been. We are at a place now where we are confident with our live show and we are comfortable, and at home, performing on stage, so pretty much every performance has been an absolute pleasure this summer. Also, we flew in to most of our shows this summer which was nice. It allowed us to spend more time at home during the weekdays.

Was there a particular show where you felt an especially strong connection with the audience?

There were two, actually: one [was] in Edmonton at a small club. Usually we play bigger venues in Edmonton but we’d booked this show last minute and so we couldn’t get anything larger. But it turned out to be one of our best shows of the summer; it was an intimate crowd and everyone was right there in our face, surrounding us and singing loud and dancing along. It’s great to play tiny clubs like that once in a while, it feels like you are right there with the audience. Another highlight was our performance at Tall Tree Festival in Port Renfrew. It was a nice sized crowd, but the vibe was the same as the Edmonton show. The people were awesome and down for a good time.

Your new album has many references to both nature and love, sometimes simultaneously. For example, “I want to have fun in the sun with my daughter” on the title track, and “Here in the desert, I need your water” on “Take Me By Surprise.” Were these motifs deliberate?

Kind of, I suppose. I love nature, I love being outdoors and going to the ocean and going hiking and watching the moon. All that and more. I feel at home in nature so it comes out my lyrical content. As for love, well, love is amazing. And not just the idea of being in love, but love for everything. I’m becoming more at peace with what love is and so perhaps I’m singing about it more.

The standout track for me on By My Side is “Every Night”. Musically it’s quite different from most of the album. Was the creative process different for this song?

Mmm, not really. The only difference to me is that there is a bit of a different feel to it and the electric guitar is more prominent. Also, Roy’s drum beat is really an integral part of the song and it takes the song from a simple folk tune to something more interesting.

You ended your tour here in Victoria. What’s the plan now?

Well, we will be hitting the road again in November to tour some places in Canada we didn’t get to in the summer. And then back in the studio! The music is flowing steadily. Then we shall see what 2015 brings.

Emmett Robinson Smith is a classical pianist at UVic and a member of the band Modest Nudist.