Tragedy Ann sees success in stillness and sustainability in a post-lockdown world
Tragedy Ann performs at MooseFest: celebrating 5 years of Roots Music Canada, a one-night festival in honour of this website June 4 at Toronto’s TRANZAC. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. Get your tickets HERE
It’s been just over a year since Tragedy Ann released its divine sophomore full-length album, Heirlooms.
And the years following their first two full-length albums have been a study in contrasts.
Their debut album, Matches, came out in 2018, the same year founders Liv Cazzola and Bredan Phelan got engaged and bought a house together. It was also the year Liv and her sister, Anita, released their sophomore album as the Lifers.
“It was such a dense year. And then the year that followed was definitely active musically and in our personal lives,” Liv recalled on the phone while out for a stroll in the duo’s hometown of Guelph.
“But the experience of releasing Heirlooms was completely different, where it was coming from a place of stillness.”
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That stillness, of course, began with the lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic but it’s carried on since then, as post-lockdown realities have led Liv and Braden to look for opportunities to live a more balanced life – one that allows more time for creativity, self-care and family.
“We toured [Heirlooms] for the summer. And then we realized that, ‘Oh, gosh, we really do need a little bit more stillness.’ “Like we maybe weren’t ready for quite that much [activity]” Liv said.
Spending time with fans again while everyone was processing the toll of COVID was emotionally intense, she said.
The duo would end their shows with the final track from Heirlooms, “I Hope This Finds You Well,” and use it as an opportunity to remember those lost to COVID and the new life that has been born since the start of the pandemic.
It was a practice that often triggered emotional conversations with fans.
To top it off, Tragedy Ann was touring relatively shortly after restrictions on crowd sizes were lifted, and the members found that attendance at shows was unpredictable.
It all prompted Braden and Liv to carefully consider what they wanted out of their careers, and for now at least, it’s more time – to simply create and play music without pressure.
And let’s face it, great art takes time. And for Liv and Braden, who’d won Folk Music Ontario Songs from the Heart Awards before even releasing their debut album, and who have already composed emotional gut punches like “Float Away” from Heirlooms, taking time to nurture that formidable talent can only possibly result in more goodness for us fans.
It’s not that they don’t love being on the road too. In fact, touring again allowed them to appreciate that it’s a core part of their identity and how they related to people and the world, Liv said. But they learned that they need to be careful not to undervalue being in their own local community with their family.
The duo will hit the road this year, but in a slightly different way than they’ve done it before.
They’ll showcase at a conference in Vancouver this summer before setting off on a two-month “slow tour” of Europe in the fall.
“For us, slow touring means being in a place for more than one day, interacting with the communities in a deeper way and with the land in a deeper way,” said Liv. “And that helps essentially, make more meaningful and lasting relationships and is gentler on our bodies and on the planet.”
As Tragedy Ann’s career has unfolded, Liv has come to realize just how many artists are making music and how it can create an unhealthy feeling of competition among artists.
“Ultimately,” she said. “I have come to realize how intertwined art can be with capitalism. And the more time I spend on this path, the more I want to tease that apart and at least be aware of when I’m engaging with capitalism or when I’m engaging with art and when they’re strangling each other.”