Singer-songwriter Jay Gilday thrilled about first trip to Nunavut
Father of four says travelling and playing music is worth the effort
For some people, music is not a choice. It just comes out, in great leaps and bounds, like a frothing set of rapids on a northern river.
It’s that way with Jay Gilday, a Yellowknife-born, Edmonton-based performer who’s on his way to Iqaluit this Saturday, Jan. 18, and then to Rankin Inlet Jan. 23, as part of the Alianait concert series.
A soulful songwriter and skilled musician with a rich voice that can sound, at times, like Burton Cummings, Gilday has dabbled in all kinds of music from folk to rock and lately, even soul and blues.
Nunatsiaq News sent a few questions to Gilday in advance of his show this weekend and here are his responses.
NN: Have you ever been to Nunavut?
JG: Amazingly no. All the years I lived and worked in the North never led me there.
NN: What are you looking forward to most about the trip?
JG: As with most trips there are two things that make the experience for me: the people and the land. I’ve known a lot of Inuit over the years, I’m excited to see them on their home turf.
There’s something that changes in me when I set foot on the rocks and lakes where I grew up and I can’t wait to see that connection in the people of Nunavut.
NN: Tell me about the kind of music you’re playing these days.
JG: The music I’ve been working on lately has been varied as per usual. I’ve been finding that blues and soul songs have been suiting my voice nicely.
Working with a band has had me singing more rock driven songs and I love the challenge of whipping out the blazing hot vocals but the stuff I’ve been working on at home has been more thoughtful.
I’ve been trying to draw songs and stories out from things in my memory which is hard for me as my playing and singing have always been focused more on sounding good. The crowd in Nunavut will get a bit of both.
NN: Who are your musical and spiritual influences?
JG: Oh jeez, this question. Music is the language of my soul so the two typically go together for me. Influences: Stan Rogers for his stories and barrel-chested voice and his influence on my dad’s folk group “The Gumboots.”
Beethoven for his singular gift for expressing beauty and power. All the rock and rollers and blues men, soul-singin’ women for teaching me to cut loose and go for the high note.
NN: How important is it to bring live music to Nunavut?
JG: They deserve the best live music and lots of it. They export so much beauty and art, music and stories, giving the world a different way to look at things. I think they could use some of the same from the rest of the world. Especially since most artists and musicians would jump at the chance to go north.
NN: Do you have four children now? How do you manage to maintain a musical career under those circumstances?
JG: This is my mantra for life with four kids: just roll with it; while my wife’s is: be kind. Together they make it possible to think about doing things that sometimes seem not worth the effort. Things like going to a camping music festival with two toddlers and twin babies seem impossible but are awesomely fun if you just put in the effort. Not for the faint of heart and I wouldn’t do it every year but totally worth it.
Gilday plays the Tisi at Inuksuk High School Jan. 18, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., with opening band, The Trade-offs. Tickets are available at Arctic Ventures: adults $22 in advance and $25 at the door. Youth (13-18) pay $12 in advance and $15 at the door. It’s free for elders and children 12 and under, with a supervising adult.
Weather permitting, he’ll play Rankin Inlet’s Simon Allaituq School Jan. 23.