Interview: Toronto's ColinResponse

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Trust us when we say when this guy calls you’ll want to respond. If you don’t already know about this musician and his band you've probably been asleep until now. Okay that’s a little harsh but seriously get it together. To say that 2013 was a big year for ColinResponse would be an understatement. From having the opportunity to represent Canada in Cognac France at last years Blues Passions festival, taking on political responsibilities as Humber Colleges Vice president of the Students federation, and recently taking part in Toronto’s highly anticipated Wired City Festival that saw a handful of bands playing two different venues with all the insanity of the night available for live streaming, 2013 was a very eventful year, and it’s just the beginning for him. In his final year of Humber’s prestigious music program, with an already established and devoted fan base, experience performing in a festival with legends like Erykah Badu and Sinead O’cconor, and enough charm to fill a box of lucky charms, there’s really no telling how far this talented head of luscious locks will go. The last time I saw you perform was at a humble little talent show in some back room at Humber College that couldn’t have held more than maybe a hundred people, and that was including the people lined up against the walls, and this past summer you performed in front of thousands in France at the “Blues Passions Festival” other than the obvious size difference how did those two experiences differ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nrDpd9CMv0

“That was actually my first performance under the artist name ColinResponse, so the difference? Astronomical! Funny enough…” (Colin Jumps out of his seat and disappears into his room momentarily and returns with the award he received after winning the Humber talent contest some four years ago it’s clear that he has not forgotten how and where it all began, a small engraved glass monument that obviously represents so much more than just a talent contest) “this is from that very day March 26th 2010 that was almost four years ago now, I honestly remember the day quite vividly, it was the day that I decided that this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life, so now almost four years later I would say there’s an astronomical difference in my song writing, my song writing has developed, my on stage performance has developed, as well as the connections I have with the musicians I play with on stage, so there are a lot of differences, but those are probably the over arching ones.

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Do you think winning the contest had something to do with you finalizing your decision to pursue this as a full time career?

“Absolutely not. Actually I forgot that it was a contest, I remember finishing it and being so excited, I remember thinking this is the first time I got to really share my music the way it was in my mind, the first time in my life I was actually able to express my ideas and music to an audience that was receptive of it, so despite winning I think it would have had the exact same impact if I hadn’t, because in my mind I had accomplished what I intended to accomplish.”

How would you describe your sound and style to someone whose never heard it before?

“Pop. Soul.”

Pop/soul okay, why that, what does that mean?

“Pop music is ever changing and it’s accessible to the average listener, it makes you want to move and it's not unbelievably complex, but at the same time soul, because there’s purpose for the music. So it's not just shallow empty things that are being shelled out there because it gives the people the ability to dance, but the pop element of it is to further communicate that message of soul.”

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Based on the music that would have been popular at the time, if you could choose a different decade to have been born in-

“70’s!! Couldn’t even wait. I just love the 70’s. I’m talking about the late 70’s cause you had MJ’s Off The Wall and everything was groovy, the purpose was groove!! When I think about the music, people went out there and they just went out to move and dance, and songs went on for like 10 minutes, but you just didn’t care. You danced”

You beat out a couple hundred other contestants to become Hennessey’s Artist Talent Quest winner and had the opportunity to perform on the same stage as Erykah Badu, Wyclef Jean, Sinead O’connor, Ben Harper and countless others at last summers Blues Passions festival, how did you maintain your professionalism in such an exciting environment?

“To be honest, not with very much difficulty. Simply because I’m not under the illusion that they're not human; they're just very hard working and talented individuals. There’s a difference between being inspired or motivated by and being infatuated or star struck by an individual, and to loose yourself over them is almost insulting, because it's as if to say, ‘you're not a real person that accomplished these things, you’re a superhuman that didn’t have to work as hard.’”

So what was the performance like, did everything run smoothly in France?

“Yup. It was perfect, write that down, lets move on… I mean the performance was incredible, I was performing in front of 5’000 people in a country where people didn’t know my music, so the fact that people were dancing and moving, it confirmed my objective in communicating my message.”

Are you pleased with the direction that the music industry is headed in?

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“Ah, the industry is gonna go whichever way it will, people are stealing music like it's unbelievable, does it upset me? No, because it’s just a reality, if you're not being inspired to creatively change it, then you can’t sit around being upset about it. It’s heading in a direction where the power is in the listener, and if you accept that and move in the direction of it, you’ll be successful. I mean there is a reason why blockbuster went out of business, things turned digital and they said ‘no, no people want to come to our store at 11 o’clock at night; in the cold. They want to put the video in the slot and then get charged the next time they come because they didn’t rewind it.’ that’s what blockbuster said, the people said ‘we just really want stay at home’ and Netflix was like ‘you know what? You're right!’ What could have been blockbuster online became blockbuster no more, and someone else who embraced the change is now on top, so you can embrace the change or try to force it back in the other direction and you will fail”

And you are embracing the change?

“The focus is your audience, and if your audience relates to what you do and they want to hear you, then they are going do what ever it takes to hear you. It was only about maybe a year ago when my fans raised 7000 dollars for me because all my stuff got stolen when I was performing in Vancouver. In this industry people are the source of everything and if you forget that your fans are what’s holding you up the second they leave you, you're nothing.”

So would you say that you create your music for your fans first and then yourself?

“I create music based on things that I’ve experienced: that I think other people have experienced as well so I communicate a message to draw a parallel between us, not an empty message simply for their entertainment but also not a completely self indulgent art that is only for myself, it’s a marriage of the two.”

What can your fans expect from your album release this spring?

“They can expect what they’ve been waiting for… I mean I’ve built my fan base solely from live performances, simply because I had such a focus on connecting with the audience, a foundation has been built and it's time to deliver what they’ve have been waiting for.”

Lastly, because Colin is a man of many talents, for all you aspiring cooks on a dime Colin offers up these random but necessary tips that’ll improve anyone’s kitchen game: “If you put a cup of water in the microwave when heating up bread or pizza it’ll prevent the bread from turning rock hard, also a wooden spoon over a pot while boiling pasta will prevent the water from boiling over.” You're welcome.

And if you're looking to connect with a tight nit, creative, and fun loving community, join ColinResponses’ fan list, aside from the gratification that comes with being part of a growing culture you’ll have the chance to win a free download of the bands newest single, “She dances in the Rain,” prizes, t-shirts and a VIP prize for two to the album release party. You can also check out the band via Facebook at ColinResponse or twitter @ColinResponseTO and while you're at it check out his Youtube channel. Seriously wake up and smell the talent.

In and Out,

Babs