Despite the world turning upside-down this year, that has not stopped Canadian singer-songwriter Donovan Woods from continuing to deliver a host of incredible music. Having released a series of singles over this past year that showcase his captivating and soulful vocals; the most exciting announcement came alongside the release of his earlier single Seeing Other People – the upcoming release of his seventh studio album Without People. Set to drop on November 6th, the album was create by musicians who were all contributing remotely, featuring the likes of Rhys Lewis and Katie Pruitt. Highlighting his ability to focus on the important tiny moments in relationships; the album draws on the notion of human connection, and its necessity and significance – something that has become an unforeseen challenge this 2020. Following the release of Seeing Other People, we sat down with Donovan to chat about the upcoming album and his year in music so far.
BM: Tell us a bit about yourself, and your year in music so far!
DW: I’m Donovan Woods. I’m a singer/songwriter from Canada. I live in Toronto and Nashville and write songs for myself and other people. This year has been the same challenge it’s been for everyone. Had a lot of fun stuff cancelled, but I’m happy to have some time to write and be at home with my family finally (They seem nice!). I’ve got a new album coming out in November and I’m thrilled to have new music on the way.
BM: Over the years, what have you learnt from touring and being on the road; and what have you missed most about not being able to do live performances this year?
DW: I’ve learned that people really love music. I like it a lot, but I’m consistently amazed at how much people love music. They show up and give themselves over to the show. There’s a finality to playing the songs live for people that I’ve been missing this year. It’s almost as if my job doesn’t feel done until people hear the songs in person. I hope to get back to it, like everyone, soon.
BM: You recently shared your new single Seeing Other People! Talk me through the record. What was the biggest creative influence for the track, thematically?
DW: I want to write folk music about tiny intimate moments in life and make it sound like it takes place in 2020. It’s a gentle song but I think it pulses and propels you forward in a way that feels good, and it’s about moving on, so that works.
BM: What kind of energy and message did you want to project with Seeing Other People?
DW: I always want my lyrics to make people feel thoughtful. Hopefully it helps them dig into their own feelings or acts like a balm against whatever worry they’re having.
BM: How do you typically approach song writing, and what’s your usual creative process?
DW: I try to make sure there’s no usual process. My big challenge is breaking out of my routines and discovering something new. So, whether it’s finding a new co-writer or starting on an instrument I’m not that good at, I try to put myself in situations with novel problems, so I have to come up with novel solutions. I find that results in the kind of songs I like best.
BM: Going through your impressive discography, which track resonates the most with you? And which track do you think is the most important for listeners to hear?
DW: I mean, they all resonate with me personally. They’re all about me, in some way. I really like a song called “Man Made Lake” off this new album, because it attempts to explain something I think a lot of people feel but can’t quite put a name on. A sadness that comes with aging and seeing your childhood as it really was.
BM: You just announced the upcoming release of your new album, Without People. How did you settle on the album title, and are there any tracks that you are particularly excited to share?
DW: Without People has been on my list of possible album titles for a couple years. It seems to me that the process of moving into adulthood is a series of learning to cope without people. Your parents, your first love, etc. Meanwhile, you’re often surrounded and so busy, you long for some time to be alone. The human condition is stupid. We started making the record just as the stay at home order hit, and we finished the record remotely, so the title “Without People” suddenly seemed like an obvious choice.
BM: With such an extensive discography, what have been the biggest changes for you musically and artistically over the past 5 years?
DW: My first two records are little tiny folk records made in my basement. When we started to play larger venues, it was necessary to make the songs a bit bigger to accommodate those changes. The small songs I was writing just wouldn’t work in those spaces. So it’s been a journey of discovery, trying to find a balance between big sound and the tiny little aesthetic that I naturally gravitate toward. If it weren’t for the invention of the microphone, I would not have a career.
BM: And over the next 5 years, what do you hope to achieve as an artist?
DW: I hope to remain fiercely independent and follow my musical interests wherever they take me. The fun thing about being an artist is having the freedom to follow your inspiration all day. I’m grateful that people listen to my music enough, that I can spend my time making more.
BM: What can we expect from you next, musically?
DW: We’ve got some pretty exciting collaborations lined up for 2021. I love to collaborate.
An absolute pleasure to catch up with Donovan; keep up with him and his journey on all his socials: