Here's our little encounter with lovely and talented Toronto-based artist Eastborough. Her unique voice and daring style has caused Stefani Guzman to charm legions, and that includes magazines and local radio stations. A first self-titled EP relased in 2006 had announced it and her just released debut album now confirms it: Easborough is not your average indie-pop singer. To find out why, read through the interview we have had with her as well as our take on her album Your Place.
1- Eastborough is one original name. How did you come up with it?
Thank you. It seems the more exposure Eastborough receives, the more the name comes into question. I feel like now I have to come up with something epic ! (laughs)
Well, in my hometown of Ottawa there is a small community named Westboro. It is a very safe and clean and happy place. I on the other hand lived further east, in a not so great part of town. I realized that the Eastborough needed to represent!
I find the name fitting because in the beginning Eastborough was just myself and whomever I could wrangle up into a band at the time. The line-up changed often with guest performances rotating from show to show. This certainly lends to the name and the idea of a small community. I also like the flexibility it gives me to perform either as a band or solo artist without having to use my name in that oh-so-folky way.
2- For how long have you been making music ? How did you decide that you were going to be a musician ?
I have been playing guitar and writing songs since my early teens and have been in a variety of different bands over the years but Eastborough only started getting off the ground near the end of 2006.
I don’t think I actually ever made the decision to be a musician. Performing and recording are things that just happened naturally however, I do think that at some point every serious musician has to decide whether this is a career path or a hobby.
3- What are your musical influences ?
Growing up I listened to everything from punk rock to folk music. Nowadays, I listen to a lot of indie rock, electro pop and even some hip hop.
4- What inspires your songwriting ? Do you do everything by yourself from composing melodies to doing all the of the arrangements ?
I am inspired by love and loss, our interconectivity, the past and the future. I do all the composing but this may change as Eastborough evolves.
5- What was the creative process behind Your Place ?
The songs on this album kind of document a period of change in my life. The recording and the creative process mirrored this theme as they began in Ottawa and then completely changed after I moved to Toronto.
I was lucky to have found an amazing producer in Toronto (Adam King) who knew how to help me achieve the sound I was lookng for but could not attain in Ottawa. Though many of the initial parts had already been recorded we began stripping them down again and re-layering or restructuring them (‘Soft Step’ was practically rewritten on the spot one day).
I enjoyed my time in the studio immensely, just throwing around ideas and being creative. Adam challenged me and I am extremely grateful for the experience.
6-We would love to have you performing here in Montreal! Do you have any touring project in mind?
Thanks ! I absolutely love Montreal and can’t wait to bring Eastborough there. We are planning for some touring in the summer so stay tuned to www.eastboroughmusic.com for dates !
7- Where do you see yourself in 3 hours, 3 days, 3 months and 3 years ?
3 hours - sleeping !
3 days - it’s the weekend..so hopefully relaxing and having fun.
3 months - summer time !! waking up from hibernation ! maybe a little summer tour… ?
3 years - I would like to have a new CD to share with you by then ;)
Eastborough washes in with the wave of talented female artists making significantly good indie-pop music. Young, Toronto-based Stefani Guzmanstands behind this lovely solo project, which seems to have received praise from all ears it has floated into.
Your Place is Eastborough’s very first LP, and is strictly constituted of beautifully crafted tunes. The 10 tracks on the album take turns swimming in and out of folk, dream-pop, and acoustic, while keeping a lo-fi quality, allowing Guzman’s vibrant and distinctive vocals to shine through. Comfort can also be found in these original songs, made of catchy melodies and uneasy lyrics, making them quite endearing. Indeed, all of this sounds very cute, but it is also driven and edgy. This album also includes beautiful arrangements of strings, guitar, ukulele, glockenspiel, and brass; all are very well-orchestrated and incorporated, enhancing the depth of the pieces and making none of them ever sound ditty.
Eastborough is at ease singing about modern romance in a way we don’t necessarily like it to be depicted; it is at times irreverent. With that being said, the album is captivating - thinking of the audacious “You Call, I Fold”, where the chorus is belted by what sounds like a choir of kids, but is in fact the singer harmonizing with herself. It can be mellow, like the beautiful “When You Ask” (which won me over); or genuinely upbeat, like“Shuffle and Slide” and “Absent President”. It generates good feelings in every way. For the rest, comparisons could be made with Angus and Julia Stone –although more Julia than Angus– Anya Marina, or even Cocorosie (minus the freak). But what we really know is, this singer-songwriter has got herself a distinctive sound and good direction; nothing about her or her album seems feigned or forced. Let’s then simply hope for her thriving success.