We sat down with Connor Roff over coffee to talk about how he got started with music, what his tour was like, his first EP release, and future plans. You can give his self-titled EP a listen here while you're reading - http://connorroff.bandcamp.com/.
G: Tell us a bit about how you got started with music.
C: I played piano since I was a kid, starting at age 7 just before I moved to Canada, and continued lessons until I was 16. Then I went on to acoustic guitar for a while, and took a break from piano. Now, I try to balance and work with both. I used to find it really hard to write with piano, but I find both piano and guitar easy to write with now.
G: Was your family particularly musical growing up?
C: Not particularly, no. I was thinking about that the other day actually - a few of us play instruments but it's not super prominent.
G: Explain your sound to someone who has never heard you.
C: I used to call it indie-rock, but now I call it rock-pop because indie-rock is such an open genre and doesn’t really describe a sound well anymore.
G: Your first EP came out in January, what was the recording process for that like? Did you learn anything?
C: Definitely the biggest thing I learned while recording at Fader Mountain was how to make an americano [laughs]. Recording studios are huge on their coffee. But really, I recorded with Winston Hauschild and the best lesson he taught me was to not write so much for yourself, but to write for your audience. It was eye-opening because I would always write with the perspective of what the lyrics meant to me, and not always what they would mean to an audience.
G: What is the message you’d like to send to your audience through your music?
C: With my first EP I think a lot of the songs came from a place of growing up. I wrote a lot of them in my late teenage years and I think that’s reflected in the songs a lot. They’ve all got a lot to do with growing as an individual and reflecting on the outside now. With time that’s changed, and I find myself writing more about personal relationships I have, of all kinds, with people. It’s strange, I used to find those kinds of songs so cheesy, but now I think it’s the easiest thing to write about and can really be done in ways that aren’t just cheesy, love songs.
G: So you’ve had a bit of a busy year, and one thing you participated in was the Sin Bin Battle of the Bands. Would you like to speak to that a bit?
C: That was something really cool. There was about 20 bands in the competition and it was an acoustic battle of the bands, meaning everyone had to have a stripped down sound. For my set it was myself, a bass player, and some light percussion. I ended up getting second and won some free time to record at Fader Mountain, which was funny as I had just finished recording my EP there. So, I’m sitting on that time I won now and will probably use it in the summer to get some new sounds out.
G: Another contest you participated in was the CBC Searchlight, what was the best part of that competition for you?
C: I’d say that it was a great way to meet all the local bands you can play shows with, or if you’re planning a tour you get to meet a ton of bands from different cities that you can contact to set up shows with.
G: You recently returned from a tour, what was the best experience you had with that?
C: Yeah, I just got back mid-way through March and had been gone about four weeks. I think a cool part was taking Via Rail through their artist on board program where you sign up to work as a musician on board and in return get free food and board. They only take solo or duo acoustic acts, and you play a few sets each day. You get your own cabin and three amazing meals a day, it was a great experience.
G: Which was your favourite show you played on tour?
C: I’d say my favourite show was in Kingston at The Mansion because my brother and a bunch of my friends go to school at Queens so a lot of people came out and it was really fun.
G: What makes a great audience for you?
C: A good audience is one with people who are engaged and listening, not chatting or screaming over what’s happening on the stage.
G: What are five thing you couldn’t live without?
C: At this point - coffee. Which is sad to say because I never drank coffee until first year. So I’d say coffee, good beer (especially good craft summer beers), listening to music, playing music, and probably my parents’ van. It is the most battered, old van, but I need it for lugging gear and getting around. It has seen the worst of times, but I still love it.
G: Do you have a favourite place to hang out in Vancouver?
C: It’s got to be any of the beaches. Or, there’s this really small spot by my house, it’s a certified park but it’s tiny, and it has the craziest view of Vancouver. It’s a great spot to go and just hang out.
G: What are your plans for this upcoming year?
C: I’ll be heading into a studio to record some rough takes of songs that will either become album additions or demos. I’m still working to put together a full-time band as well and planning to record a music video for Summer Daze.
I’m considering experimenting with some EDM, and while it might not become part of the Connor Roff project, I’d love to try that out a bit.
A big future plan, that's in the works, is to possibly move back to the UK in the fall to explore and check out the music scene there. Dual citizenship can be handy!
G: Best of luck! Thank you for chatting with us!