Julie Doiron’s music is very honest and, according to contemporary musician Basia Bulat, “makes you feel like you’re home.”
Late on a Friday night, inside of Burlington’s City Hall, I met with the singer-songwriter after her performance at the Sound of Music Festival.
She had a very casual manner about her, both in personality and appearance. She was a modern-day bohemian, with shoulder-length tousled brown hair, long bangs and a loose-printed dress along with cowboy boots.
Like most things she does, her June 15 performance was largely based on improvisation. That night was the first time she had ever played with drummer Ian Romano, and although she had worked with his brother, Daniel Romano, before, he moved from his usual position behind the drum set to the guitar.
“The way we played tonight, I had never done it before,” she admits. During her set, she took suggestions from the audience. “I don’t usually make a set list because I kind of like to gauge how I’m feeling … and I think maybe that’s part of the thing where I have a really hard time with commitment”.
Her difficulty with commitment may explain why she moves around so much. Julie grew up in New Brunswick, first in Moncton and then in Sacksville for a while. She bounced between the cities before relocating to Toronto two years ago.
However, she’s planning on moving back to Sacksville this summer, which she sees as her true home.
“I was really lucky. I was living in Montreal where rent was really cheap so I could live no problem off touring,” she said. Toronto, though, was tougher.
“Living in Toronto was really hard for that, so it will be a lot easier when I move back to New Brunswick, but it’s frustrating to not be able to live off of what you do.”
When asked about the challenges of living as an independent artist, Julie explained, “When I have enough shows booked, it’s okay. But now that nobody buys records anymore, you just have to play more shows”.
At one point in 2003, she was thinking of quitting the music business but found that she couldn’t escape from it.
“My sort of compromise for that was that I stopped thinking of it as a music business and thinking of it as something you do, that you need to do, and that’s why I’m still doing it.”
And Julie doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I used to joke that I’ll probably be doing it into my 80s, which is probably what will end up happening.”
By Janine Wong