Home Jason's Jukebox The Chat Room: Jed and the Valentine

The Chat Room: Jed and the Valentine

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Jed and the Valentine is the musical collaboration between Jonah Morris and Maria Khaner, Edmonton-based singer-songwriters ready to make a mark on the international roots music scene with their soulful harmonies and lyrics inspired by the majestic landscapes of western Canada.

It’s all there on the duo’s debut album, Awake!, nine songs that mark their first two years of working together, and the creative energy they continue to feed off of. The seeds of the record began sprouting on a cold night in January 2023 when they wrote Awake!’s title track after a mundane moment brought a spark of inspiration. It was soon followed by other album highlights such as “Rocky Mountain, Carry Me,” an ode to the pair’s frequent camping trips in their wild Alberta surroundings.
When it came time to record Awake!, they kept things close to home as well, relying on Jonah’s education in music production to set up a recording space in their bedroom. They put down all the main tracks there, with shimmering acoustic guitars and banjo accentuating a heart-swelling rhythm section, with the only overdubs coming from fiddler Brianna Lizotte and trumpeter Liam Shearer, who appears on “Mineral” and “Luckier.”

Both Jonah and Maria agree that Awake! marks the start of a new chapter for Jed and the Valentine, one that will build on the duo’s 2023 performances at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the Canmore Folk Music Festival, which have helped boost their TikTok following to nearly a quarter million.

The pair took some time out to tell us more, as their tour in support of Awake! is starting to get underway. Check out the dates at jedandthevalentine.com/shows and get Awake! on your favourite digital platform or from Bandcamp.

 

How did Jed and the Valentine come to be? Did the music grow out of your friendship or vice versa?

Maria: Our relationship came first and then Jed and the Valentine. We started dating about two years before we started making music together, and it came as the result of us doing a few covers at backyard concerts with family and having all of Jonah’s family members tell us that we needed to start really considering taking the whole “doing music together” thing seriously. Making music with someone is such a vulnerable thing, and that can make it really hard to truly open up and make meaningful art with someone without having some kind of connection with them, so I’m glad that we established a strong connection with each other before we started creating music together.

How has your songwriting process evolved?

Jonah: Our songwriting has evolved with our skills in general. As we started to get more and more comfortable — and still continue to do so — with each other and our instruments, we started transforming the hushed harmonies that we’d write on the porch into fuller, bolder, and vulnerable tunes. But that took some refining, and there’s always more room for growth.

Maria: I also think when we first started writing together, we thought it had to all be done with both of us present the entire time. Now, we’ve started to realize that the ideas for our songs don’t always have to come from a specific songwriting session where we’re consciously trying to “make a song happen” while we’re both in the same room but can come from the independent sparks of inspiration that we record in little voice memos or notes throughout our day-to-day life. A lot of our songs come from either one of us having the bones of a song and bringing it to the other person to help bring the song to life and realize its true potential.

You’ve said that the song “Awake” set the tone for the entire album. What makes that song special for you?

Maria: It’s all about feeling truly present. Sort of like a rejection of that feeling of letting yourself go on autopilot as you move through life. We live in a world where we’re always so distracted by things, and I think it can cloud our ability to really feel “here” when we’re so used to feeling like we’re not present in our bodies. “Awake!” is about moments in life that really cut through the fog and command your attention, and that kind of awareness, presence, and warmth was what we wanted to capture. For example, a bird’s song first thing in the morning, a bright full moon on a cold night, the feeling of being in a room of people who really, truly love you – experiences and feelings that bring you to your body and make you go, “Wake up!! Isn’t this amazing?”

How has your live show been developing and what are your touring plans?

Jonah: We have lots of plans for the next few months! We’ve grown our sound from two vocals and a guitar into a more fleshed out sound. Between the two of us, we have guitar, banjo, two voices, percussion, and more that help to really bring our songs to life. I think we’ve also become more creative with how we can make it feel a little more like there’s a band playing with us when it’s actually just us two, by using things like foot percussion.

Maria: We’re going to be spending a lot of our time outside of the comfort zone that is Edmonton, which is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. We get to play in a lot of places we’ve never been to before, like Ymir B.C. for the Tiny Lights Festival, Hudson’s Hope for Peace Valley Folk Festival, Grande Prairie for Bear Creek Folk Festival, and a ton of other places for festivals and concerts that we’re really looking forward to. We’ve been getting some help putting together our touring routes from John Hewitt’s Second Sunset Productions, and we’ve been able to really fill up our summer. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to start branching out into more central and eastern parts of Canada soon too.

Who are some artists that you’re listening to right now?
Jonah: My immediate go-to right now is the Punch Brothers.
Maria: And I’ve been really loving River Whyless and Sierra Ferrell lately.

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