Artist Q & A: Martin Kerr

This local indie music staple has been tearing up the scene for 12 years.

November 1, 2017

photography by Paul Swanson

Singer and songwriter Martin Kerr’s been a staple of the local indie music scene for 12 years, often playing over 150 shows per year from farmers’ markets to a sold-out Winspear Centre to his upcoming gig at The Needle Vinyl Tavern on November 5. In July he released Better Than Brand New and — without a label, agent or distributor — it reached No. 2 on iTunes Canada and No. 10 on Music Canada charts.

Q: How would you describe a live Martin Kerr show?

A: People can expect to be moved, to laugh and cry and sing along by the end of the show, if they haven’t done that I haven’t done my job.

Q: What was your approach to promoting Better Than Brand New?

A: I reached out to the tens of thousands of existing fans I’ve built up over the years playing a lot of smaller shows. The other part was lining it up with a big show — opening for Sarah McLachlan at Rogers Place. It’s easiest to sell albums at a live show because people want to take the experience home with them.

Q: What direction did you have in mind for the album?

A: I always want to keep it very intimate, I want the lyrics to hit home the first time someone hears the song.

Q: You’ve had a great 2017, do you have any goals or plans going forward?

A: A lot of my long-term goals were things I’ve managed to achieve this year, so it’s time to dream bigger. I’m looking to play more festivals next summer, and it looks like I’ll be able to, and I’m already thinking of the next album. One of my favourite artists that I look up to — both in terms of song writing and arrangements — is Passenger. I got to meet him when he came to the Winspear and had a good chat.

Q: Why the dedication to and focus on Edmonton?

A: Edmonton’s my home, I have a family here. Instead of going on tour, I see myself as doing micro-tours of Edmonton. One of the things I love to do as a songwriter is to try to write songs that reach lots of different kinds of people. I’m able to play multiple shows a week for different kinds of audiences without burning anyone out.

This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.


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