Doyens of the St. John’s music scene will be familiar with the upbeat and inspired folk-rock stylings of Selina Boland, who’s been performing in local clubs since 2005. Those who’ve missed her enthusiastic and talented performances in recent months will be pleased to know her debut EP ‘Defined is Confined’ is now out and available in stores and online.
Selina is no stranger to the musical lifestyle, either. Daughter of well-known Newfoundland performer Laverne Squires (Lukey’s Boat), the self-taught singer, songwriter and guitarist has been playing since the age of 4. But her music took a more serious turn in 2005 when she began performing as a solo artist, and then in 2007 formed the band ‘Full Day Ahead’. That’s how she met Christian Johansen, the drummer who eventually became lead guitarist, and an inspired supporter of her work. The two moved to Calgary earlier this year, to continue expanding their musical explorations.
“I wanted to check out an entirely different music scene,” Selina explains. “We thought it would be great to collaborate with some musicians out here while also promoting our new EP with some live shows…The songs have been well-received and people here are extremely supportive. I find that the music scene here is quite welcoming, and you feel that other musicians are on the same team as you, rather than trying to compete with you or acting as if you have to work hard to be a part of their club or clique.”
All roads lead home
Which is not to say that she doesn’t miss home.
“I miss my family and friends the most, as well as the ocean. The mountains here are a nice trade off though. But I definitely identify myself as a Newfoundland singer-songwriter, and I’m proud to say that I am!”
Her debut EP however is described on her website as Newfoundland-Norwegian folk.
“Christian was born and raised in Norway, and he grew up around Norwegian folk music,” Selina explains. “I, on the other hand, being the daughter of the lead singer of Lukey’s Boat, grew up listening to Newfoundland folk music. It seemed fitting to bring the two together and mix it in with other genres of music. You can really hear his influence on the guitar solos – particularly ‘Fickle Friend’.”
The EP was recorded in St. John’s over five days in two different studios, with recording engineers Rick Hollett (Stagehouse) and Krisjan Leslie (LabofChaos). Selina laid down the rhythm guitar and vocal tracks, while the multi-talented Johansen laid down all the drums, lead guitars, and keyboards. Bryan Tucker played the bass tracks for ‘A Man Riding a Donkey’ while Robert Ryan played the bass on the rest of the EP.
The EP has an upbeat and catchy sound; Selina’s lovely and powerful voice catches hold of the listener right from the beginning. It’s clear that she puts as much work into crafting her lyrics as she does on her talented playing.
“They tell stories about much deeper meanings of bondage, fear, freedom, and grace, yet I find that a lot of feedback for those songs comes from children.”
“The songs on this EP have a fanciful, fairy-tale narrative feel to them,” she reflects, when I ask her about her inspiration. “Take my songs ‘A Man Riding a Donkey’ and ‘The Magician’s Assistant’, for instance. They tell stories about much deeper meanings of bondage, fear, freedom, and grace, yet I find that a lot of feedback for those songs comes from children. My 6 year old niece – who has all the lyrics memorized! – probably has a complete story made up in her mind about the songs! The other songs ‘Hero’, ‘Blind Guide’, and ‘Fickle Friend’ seem to be drawing a more mature crowd as the lyrics are more conversational and come from a common ground of emotions that most people would share.”
Selina’s passion for the community and people around her spills over into her music. A couple years ago she recorded the single ‘Orphan’ to raise funds and awareness for Bring Me Hope, a volunteer group that helps Chinese orphans. That single went on to place in the Top 10 provincially in the National Songwriting Contest (as did her song ‘Hero’). It was also featured in an AAMP compilation of Newfoundland music.
“It really is hard to say specifically where my influences come from. I can only think back to when I was a child and my mother always read the poetic King James Version of the Bible to me before I went to sleep. It contained no pictures so I was forced to create images in my mind for the stories she read. It provided an amazing foundation for my ability to write… and much more! Also, both of my parents are poets and song writers. Their style of metaphorical imagery-provoking writing has always inspired me. “
‘Defined is Confined’ is one of the most refreshing takes on the folk-rock, singer-songwriter genre to come out in recent months, and the only disappointing thing about it is that it’s so short. But it’s just a start. Selina and Christian plan to return to Newfoundland in the new year. They plan to record a full-length, and are hoping the EP will help fund that process.
“We have had the privilege of collaborating with many great musicians over the years…If we had more money we most definitely would have gone for a 5 CD Box Set album,” she jokes, though I’m sure she easily could. “I plan on using this EP to give just a taste of what we represent as musicians.”
It’s a welcome taste, and Selina is excited at the prospect of working with other musicians in the local community upon her return. With a debut like this – and a talent that couldn’t be confined if she tried – it shouldn’t be difficult to find them.
For more information or to listen and download her EP, check out her website. Her EP is also available for purchase from iTunes, Amazon, Kickaxe Guitar Store in Calgary and (shortly) Fred’s Records in St. John’s. You can also check out a video for ‘A Man Riding A Donkey’ right here.