Taryn Kawaja and Ben Caplan make a return visit to Corner Brook

June 7, 2016


Hot on the heels of their latest tour in the UK, with another trans-american tour on the horizon, Corner Brook’s own daughter Taryn Kawaja and soon-to-be son in law Ben Caplan have decided to take a break on the island with… yet another tour. 

The venues are personable and cozy, just like these two zany humans. Tomorrow (June 8th) they’ll be performing in Corner Brook at the Rotary Arts Center. If tickets aren’t yet sold out, they’ll be available online (rotaryarts.ca). Get ‘em quick, you won’t want to miss this. Even without the usual band in tow, Ben Caplan is a force to behold with riotous lyrics and a voice to silence the gods. No joke. Taryn, meanwhile, calms the senses with thoughtful words woven around beautiful melodies — something you’ll likely remember from her time living and performing in Corner Brook. When combined, they’re pretty spectacular.

In the middle of their adventures they took the time to answer some questions from CornerBrooker.com.

First off, welcome back to the country. How are you feeling after this little adventure?

Taryn: Thanks! Feeling good. Being a vagabond makes traveling easier I think…Waking up in London this morning and now a few hours later drinking coffee at Fixed on Duckworth. What a world we live in! The past 2 weeks we spent in the UK were great, and have already turned into blurry memories and now it’s now.  I’m just trying to get my ears to pop since we landed. I will not need monitors tonight in CBS if this continues.

Ben: First off, thank you! Feeling good. A little bit tired – the transatlantic travel always leaves me a bit lethargic for a day, but happy to be back in Newfoundland!

How much touring does this make for you since Christmas? 

Taryn: Honestly, my brain draws a merciless blank. We’ve probably spent a total of 10 days in Halifax in the last 6 months. So…a lot. A lot of touring.

Ben: a lot… we’ve basically been on the road non stop. Since the new album came out in September we’ll have played 150 shows. Corner Brook will be show number 90 since Christmas. And we have another 90 gigs booked before next Christmas.

Where are you headed next? 

Taryn: After the 4 shows on the island, Ben heads back to Nova Scotia and I’m staying in NL to bask in the cold and familiar luxuries of the west coast for a couple of weeks. Get grounded, get my mind and body back to zero and then I’ll fly to Ottawa to meet the band and we’ll do a full North American tour. We’ll fly to Halifax for 2 days in August, and then continue with 4 months in Europe.

Ben: We’re going to head west across the continent starting a few weeks after we play Corner Brook. After we touch our toes in the ocean at Seattle, we’ll tour back home, sleep one night in our bed in Halifax, and then fly to Europe for a four month tour over there.

On the Touring thread, Ben — Was 40 Days and 40 Nights written on the road? 

Ben: Actually, I wrote that song from home. It was someone else who was away. I always have a hard time writing on the road. I think one of the things that allows me to tour as much as I do is that I feel most comfortable when I am fully immersed in the day itself, with all of it’s logistical concerns, geography, and emotional topography. I need to put down an anchor so the muses know where to find me.

It’s pretty deep. Kinda confessional. Very personal. What’s it like putting yourself out there in such a way? 

Ben: It’s about me, but it’s also about all of us… I think. Who hasn’t struggled with loneliness, temptation, jealousy, desire. Writing about those kinds of things can feel vulnerable and confessional, but it can also feel liberating and strong. When I play those kinds of songs, it doesn’t feel like “putting myself out there.” It feels more like taking the audience out there. Leading the group of us on an excursion.

“I am scared of loving you — husbands, wives and the things that they’ll do” <- That’s one of yours, Taryn. You guys are about to hitched! In retrospect does this lyric still hold weight? 

Taryn: It’s a good question. I feel differently now. That line was always less about love specifically and more about genetics, or “fate” if you will.  I used to have a lot of fear around unconsciously living out the patterns of previous generations. About not being able to grow and evolve and learn from our mistakes. I was afraid of being fated to live my life within the lines that were already drawn before me. Every time I play this song now I look at my ring and it reminds me that I can live and love bravely. It reminds me to continue to try and break the cycle of unlife and blame. I wanted to be fearless in love when I wrote that song. I feel that way now.

How much of your personal lives typically trickles into your music? 

Taryn: I haven’t written anything that I haven’t felt myself. I am also extremely empathetic, so, my songs are written from what I have felt personally but they are not necessarily all of my stories. I can’t seem separate myself from my music and I’m not sure I would even if I could. I think writing in the particular veins that I do write in allows me to process and purge a lot of darkness and hopefully through that process I can bring little pieces of light into the world. I like thinking of songwriting as being resourceful, or cleaning up after an accident: taking the broken pieces and reusing them to making something beautiful, or useful.

Ben: In a way it’s all personal. There a million things that might influence a song, from relationships, to things overheard in coffee shops, books, movies, poems, memories, and the sight of a bird overhead. It’s all filtered through my own unique perspective, experiences, and ideas. It all comes from somewhere else, and gets warped by my efforts on the way back out. So it all comes from me. And it’s all personal.

Taryn, how is it coming home for a show as compared to some of the international venues you’ve been to lately? 

Taryn: Hometown shows are always the hardest, but can be the most rewarding. The last show I played at Swirsky’s was really incredible, one of the most enjoyable and memorable. But it’s certainly awkward knowing most of your audience and them knowing you. Especially given a lot of my lyrical content, I feel even more naked putting my heart on my sleeve in Corner Brook. It’s easy to build your stage persona and tell your stories when you are an anonymous foreigner. But on the other hand, relating is what I strive to achieve and that’s easier to do within a culture and a people you know and understand.

Ben, we’re a small town here in Corner Brook. It’s kind of like performing for one very large extended family. How’s that for you?

Ben: It’s real nice. I feel lucky to be welcomed into that family.

You’re based out of Halifax now, Taryn — how much do you miss home, if at all? 

Taryn: If Halifax is like my house, then Corner Brook is like my cottage. Both places I know and love, but in Corner Brook I feel rejuvenated and at peace. With the pace of the world and the amount that I travel, It’s a very important marker of time and progress for me as well. I know my way around. I’ve walked West Street a thousand times. And it’s restful here for me –  I have no obligations besides tea with my mom, eggs and toast with my brother and snuggle with my cat. I love our island – a place of raw beauty and struggle, which I relate to.

Ben, what lessons do you think Corner Brook might learn from Halifax in order to create a vibrant arts scene? <

Ben: It’s all about people. It’s all about community. It’s about artists having the opportunity to spend time with other artists. And anyone can be an artist. I think one of the things that has helped the Halifax scene to grow strong is having many formal and informal ways for creative people to interact and intersect with each other. Without goals. It’s important to have informal spaces, and non commercial spaces for people to influence each other and let ideas ferment.

Fred’s. CBS. Lewisporte. Rotary Arts. It’s not your typical NL tour. Why stick to the smaller venues?

Ben: To be honest, we weren’t really planning on doing this tour of Newfoundland, so it came together pretty quick, and thus only a few gigs and in smaller rooms. Taryn and I were planning on coming to Newfoundland just for the joy of it. But we are addicted to touring, so before we knew what happened, we had booked four shows. Can’t come all this way and not have at least a few gigs!

Did you guys try to look like spies for the poster?

Taryn: ha ha ha…….yes……I see we accomplished our mission.

Ben: I’d love to tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.