Connor McGuire

Social media doesn’t usually work that well for Connor McGuire. He’s tried. If you look around online, you can find him on the obligatory Facebook and Twitter, and he has a Tumbler website - but there’s not much there. Social media is clearly low on his list of priorities. His focus has been elsewhere.

His friends report that he seems to disappear for large blocks of time, only to emerge sporadically with some new version of himself and his art. They imagine a cave - which is not too far from the mark. They imagine screens glowing in the dark late at night, knobs and buttons, piles of instruments, piles of unwashed dishes and empty bottles. They can hear this in his music.

When they hear it, they can also tell right away why he’s doing it. It’s clear he’s searching for something great but different. Different but not weird. OK, maybe even weird sometimes, but not stupid or abrasive - or weird for weird’s sake. The words sound like thoughts we’ve had, the tunes haunt from a place not easy to reach and the emotions revealed are tempered with a welcome intelligence.

A song is a fragile construction, with each piece dependent on the other and, initially, only supported in the air by the artist's sheer force of will. Some of Connor's songs don't get finished, but I sure love the ones that do ...

Today I'm doing some social media for him, since he's been mostly preoccupied with making music (and, in his spare time, his Boba Fett armour).

Here's a live recording of Connor's new song "Hand it Over":

Connor McGuire’s ‘Song a Week’ Project – Week 12

Twelve long weeks ago my son Connor McGuire began an online experiment to see if he could write and record a new song every week. As an additional challenge, as if the song writing wasn’t enough, he also documented the process on video and posted the combined results on YouTube. There were some hairy weeks along the way. One week in particular (number five, one of my favourites), he totally scrapped the song he’d worked on for six days and wrote an entirely new one on the deadline day. In other weekly episodes, it’s obvious from his appearance that he hasn’t slept - or that the stress of coming up with something good is taking it’s toll. Often though, there’s the unmistakeable hint of pride of accomplishment, and maybe a bit of wonder at how such a good song managed to materialize so quickly under less than ideal circumstances.

Connor knocked the Song-a-Week Project on the head this past week with episode twelve - a complex and emotional song called “Symphony”. You can hear the relief in his voice as he brings the series to a close, but if you’ve been watching from the beginning, you can also see an accomplished songwriter at the top of his game - who has now documented his ability to confidently pull the magic out of his hat week after challenging week, for three months.

Connor McGuire’s ‘Song a Week’ Project – Week 11

For his second from last week of the the 12-week Song a Week Project, Connor puts on his Pack Mentality hat and reveals his musical alter-ego. Week 11 is a full-out dance track featuring the kind of beats he will be performing next Saturday at the Waterstone Lounge in White Rock with The Forn and The Joy of Cooking (and at a show in Vancouver *this* weekend that I can't find a link to!). No lyrics, just a pounding dance groove with great hooks. Connor told his Grandma that she probably wouldn't like it.

Connor McGuire’s ‘Song a Week’ Project – Week 7

Connor's seventh song is a radical departure. It blends his usual writing style with his Pack Mentality mash-up sensibilities. The song, propelled by a beat he played on a floor tom with a tambourine laid on the skin, soars like classic Peter Gabriel, but more likely references Bat for Lashes or Animal Collective. Once again Connor succeeds and surprises.

Connor McGuire’s ‘Song a Week’ Project – Week 6

Six weeks, six new songs! I can't say he makes it look easy - as you've seen, it hasn't been - but I can marvel at the fact that he continues to create a brand new, and amazingly good, new song every week! This week's song is a hard-rockin' full-band-style arrangement, leaving behind the acoustic vibe from weeks four and five.

Connor McGuire’s ‘Song a Week’ Project – Week 4

Every week of Connor’s ‘Song a Week Project’ has had it’s challenges. Week four was no exception. His plan to simplify the process by eliminating a full band arrangement and writing on an acoustic guitar just created a higher expectation for the lyrics - which became a struggle. I'm proud to say that Connor won that battle, and that “Getting Over It” (or whatever the official title will be) is a truly beautiful, thoughtful and damned catchy song. I’ve been singing it all morning!

What Connor is doing with his ‘Song a Week Project’ is brutally difficult work. Making something from nothing - the delicate alchemy of songwriting - can be a gut-wrenching endeavour at the best of times, and doing it on a schedule like this is something I don’t think I could do. I watch his progress with a mixture of fear and loathing … and pride.

Connor McGuire's 'Song a Week' Project - Week 2

It was touch-and-go, but Connor has managed to complete his second song in time for week two of his “Song a Week Project”. As a not-uninterested witness to the unfolding events that he chronicles on the making-of video, I can confirm for you that there was a significant amount of dramatic tension and excitement involved. This instalment features guitar by Jim Black,  visit to the best studio in Vancouver, Connor’s alter-ego “Pack Mentality” rocking the house and, of course, the finished recording of the song. Honestly though, the best (and funniest) ten-seconds opens the clip, with Connor attempting to remember the date.



Connor McGuire's 'Song a Week' Project - Week 1

Connor decided a week ago that he would try to write a song a week. Then, in a moment of what I would characterize as foolhardy overconfidence, he added a video camera into the mix - recording the emotional peaks and valleys of his pressurized songwriting process.

As most parents probably would, I gritted my teeth, far more concerned about the outcome than he seemed to be. And, although he started out strong he had ground to a halt by the middle of the week.

In the hopes that I’ve built both your interest and suspense, Here's the first two vids. (SPOILER: The resulting song is amazing and more-so after you’ve watched him piece it together)



Trooper's 35th Anniversary

Trooper's first album was released 35 years ago, on July 1st, Canada Day, 1975. 1975 is the year the Vietnam war finally ended, and Sony first introduced Betamax video tapes - the first home videocassette tape recording format.

Bill Gates & Paul Allen wrote the first computer language program for personal computers in ’75 (and then went on to form Microsoft) and the two Steves were hunkered down in a garage in Los Altos, California, working on their first computer - incorporating Apple Computers the following year.

Jaws, The Towering Inferno and Young Frankenstein were box-office hits in 1975. Bruce Springsteen released his amazing third album, Born To Run, the film version of The Who's “Tommy” premiered in London and Saturday Night Live debuted on NBC.

As large stretches of time always do - it seems like an eternity ago - and it seems like just the other day.

My 6-Minute 3-Minute Film

This was my submission for the 2009 "Cindy & Monty's 3-Minute Film Festival" (discussed earlier, here). We had the best time ever at this year's event – and I showed my film to great critical acclaim – but I withdrew from competition because, despite my best efforts, my 3-Minute film turned out to be 3-Minutes too long! It's a twenty-something travelogue, documenting Connor McGuire's solo month in Europe. Check Connor's website to see *his* 3-Minute film ...