When you sit back to listen to the new album 'Shadows Of Light' by Steve Parisien and Laurel Moore, the beauty and elegance of the vocal, sax and guitar arragements quickly become evidence. Your first thought is that this is no accident. This duo belongs together. Vocal and instrument melodies interweave with consummate skill creating an sublime aural experience. This feat becomes all the more impressive when you discover that these two have never actually met. Laurel Moore is a jazz singer, saxophonist, musician and painter originally from the United Kingdom and currently living in Qatar. Steve Parisien is an accomplished guitarist and composer from Canada. Although they are from different continents and have never met, they were able to forge a strong musical partnership that resulted in their award-winning smooth jazz album ‘Shadows of Light.’ Independent Reporter Blake Wright recently caught up with this exciting new team to learn more about their incredible long-distance collaboration and plans for the future.
BLAKE: When did you first discover your love of music?
LAUREL: As writing partners, Steve Parisien and I (despite us growing up on different continents, Canada and UK, respectively) both had a love of music at a very early age.
I loved singing in the choir and playing piano as a child and a vivid memory of singing in the Albert Hall with our school choir. I also adored listening to great jazz and blues singers such as Billie Holiday and Doris Day. I discovered a real bond with the tenor saxophone whilst at college. I began busking with a blues band where I was talent-scouted by a hotel manager to start playing regular gigs. I have played with various jazz bands over the years, now forming my own solo act as OneLadyJazz, as well as collaborating with Steve Parisien who is a highly-esteemed guitarist and song writer.
STEVE: My father got me started in piano lessons at the age of five. Eventually, I also had the benefit of learning many other instruments. However at the age of twelve, the guitar is the one that most connected with me.
BLAKE: Your song 'Another Gray Day' is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
LAUREL: Initially it’s a kind of weird shock. Your first reaction before your brain has engaged is: ‘How can I be hearing my song playing...?' Then of course, it’s always a thrill to know that it has been chosen and is being enjoyed. What a buzz and nothing quite like it.
STEVE: As far as I was concerned, I’d accomplished what I truly wanted, and that was having people listen to something that I’ve written and both Laurel and I worked on.
BLAKE: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
LAUREL: When Steve and I collaborate on a song, it really starts with Steve and what’s in his head. He’s a great mood guitarist, not as in ‘moody’, but his gift of imprinting his feelings onto his songs and his melody is always super-strong. I love to kind of ‘fall into’ the feeling of the song he has written. When I allow myself to open up like this, I usually find the lyrics or arrangement tend to flow if I allow them to. It’s better not to try and direct the flow. But I think that’s what creativity is all about; allowing that natural flow. It’s the song that seems to dictate the lyrics and arrangement. Sometimes I just feel a bit like I’m just the one who’s come along with the pen.
BLAKE: Would you say that the mood of your other songs is in the same vein as your debut radio single?
LAUREL: No, we love to have different mood changes to each song. Each song needs to be strong enough to ‘stand-alone’. So, for our first award-winning album ’Shadows of Light’, we deliberately chose a mix of song moods. I get rather bored hearing one song after another in the same mood, and I’m sure our fans would feel the same. Variety is definitely the ‘spice of life’ for me as the saying goes. It’s also the challenge of that variety that I crave. Having said that, I think our songs are all tied together beautifully by the special ‘sound’ that we have as writing partners. It’s a unique sound these days and has been called ‘sweet’ in that it’s not so heavy on the bass and leans more towards acoustic jazz.
STEVE: I keep on writing and depending on what guitar I play, will dictate the mood and style of music I write. My nylon string Godin is my ‘go to’ guitar. As a result and because of trips down south, my writing tends to lean more to the Latin/Jazz theme. My flat-top Larrivee, tends to be more folk oriented and my Godin electric is strictly down the middle, more of a jazz feel. No matter what I write, it always tends to have that jazz touch to it with a deliberate casual approach not knowing really what I’m going to end up with.
BLAKE: How would you characterize yourself as a musician? (ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving...)
LAUREL: I would characterize myself as complex probably. In the early years, my creativity tended to rule my nature. But through the years, I’ve learnt to understand my nature more. Without that deeper understanding (with so much going on in one’s head), there is a danger of CHAOS! So I would say self-discipline is now more the cornerstone of my nature that supports my creativity. One without the other is scary indeed. I aim to put my whole self into what I am doing at any particular time. I also believe there is no success without failure.
BLAKE: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
LAUREL: My father was a lover of music and great jazz singers. He also played guitar well. I used to love singing along and harmonizing to his playing. Music was the good part of our relationship really.
STEVE: I grew up in a musical family. My father owned a piano store, which as the business expanded became a full musical instrument retail and service store.
BLAKE: What do you find most rewarding about being a musician? What do you find most challenging?
LAUREL: Being able to be your own Indie artist is a joy. To pick and choose where you go and what to do, being true to yourself and your own music inspiration is heavenly. Then of course there’s the software! These are mighty mountains to climb, but they can be climbed if you are determined. I’ve learned so much more than I thought I was capable of learning and stretched myself so much more than I thought possible. There’s always more to learn, more advances to make. But sometimes it makes your brain hurt! I would say though, my hat goes off to all those amazing un-praised software geeks out there, who allow us to sound good from our own homes.
BLAKE: Who are your role models in music?
LAUREL: All the great jazz singers are role models for me, especially when you learn the history of the repressive times back in the day. Life was unjust, terrible and a fight. But jazz was always worth fighting for and all the stronger a sound for those heart-felt struggles.
STEVE: I was a big fan of Oscar Peterson, Lenny Breau, Chet Atkins, Charlie Byrd, the list goes on. The big thing here was listening to the passion in their performance.
BLAKE: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
LAUREL: My TEDX Abu Dhabi performance to about 500 people was great for me. I had the crazy idea of showcasing my Artworks, then move on to singing, then to playing piano and singing, then playing my tenor sax, and all the time moving along with one mic. It had great response and I still get people contacting me now about it. I remember one group of Arab gentlemen shouting to me ‘best singer in the world...’ afterwards. That memory always gives me a giggle.
STEVE: I played in several different bands and eventually formed a jazz trio called ‘Sir Jazz’. Which consisted of a drummer, bassist, and myself on guitar. But, with all the different gigs I played at, the most memorable performance was when I was 8 yrs. old playing the latest model organ at a convent. You see, my father kind of used me as a sales tool to sell organs. People would see this little kid playing away and this would coax them into buying an instrument. Anyway, when I started playing, all these nuns came out and started singing to my performance in such beautiful perfect harmony, that this I believe, was the turning point in wanting to do more than just learning to play an instrument , but to also connect with the instrument.
BLAKE: Do you have a music video for your hit single? If so, what can you tell us about it?
LAUREL: ‘Frost on the Window’ was our collaborated video which we enjoyed creating. As Indie artists, we wanted to create something original and yes, it is a bit quirky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Taj-MDMznFM. Also, ‘Wherever the Weather’ was chosen from our ‘Shadows of Light’ album to go out to potentially millions of outlets in the U.S.A. and around the world into restaurants and malls, etc. I’ve also had two songs chosen for Major Compilation Albums in the U.S.A.; ‘Indie Artists Vol. 4’ and ‘Goa Chillou.’.
BLAKE: What advice would you give to young, aspiring musicians out there who are unsure and need guidance?
LAUREL: It’s a long road, and then again, it’s a long road. Are you in for the long-terms no matter what? Do you want fame, or a career in music? And again, is it a career you seek, or just attention? Do you want to get better every single day?
STEVE: The one thing I can suggest to anyone who wants to follow this same dream is to keep writing. Or, if you’re more in to the performance end of it, keep playing. But the big thing for either, is exposure. With all the high tech and the wonders of internet, there are so many sites to join in getting that to happen. There are also many different sites out there to help market your work. They’re there to make money no doubt, but the benefits if you do your homework, could certainly pay off.
BLAKE: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
LAUREL: There’s always more as long as I’m capable. There’s a need and a desire to do music against all odds for me and it’s something I can’t stop now. In fact, to stop it...hurts! We always hope to get pushing forward with new ideas, new material and widening our audience. Love our FANS and readers HERE.
BLAKE: Thanks for taking time out to share your story with me. I wish you good luck and continued success!
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