TSURURADIO Presents… An Interview with Veronica Charnley of Flotilla with Accompanying Mixtape!!!

NOTE: Settle in my friends….. We got a doozy for you today!

Photography by Butch Gerald

Happy Friday my friends! Friday the 13th to boot — Ooooo!

We are very, very excited and lucky to have a very special presentation for you today, something of a rare bird ’round here on TSURURADIO! That’s right, if you read the header, today we are very proud to present our interview with the amazing & talented Veronica Charnley of Flotilla with accompanying mixtape!!!


But…. before we get started, a quick word about a little something something going on this weekend for all you folks here & about Columbus. I don’t think Veronica will mind as she’s a creative and we are all about celebrating and promoting that. So, with that in mind, tomorrow and Sunday is annual Tiny Canary Indie Design Market!

The unimmitatable TsuruBride was supposed to be there, but as you know, she’s out in China & India working, but she will be represented by the wonderful Open Door Art Studio, but beyond that, so many incredibly talented local designers, artists, and craftisans will be selling their wares. So, if you are within a good 50 to 75 miles from Junctionview, make sure you stop on by!

Okay! Now….. On to our presentation!

Thank you, thank you…… So, last week, as you may recall, we featured a wonderful album One Hundred Words For Water by Montreal’s indie-prog wonders Flotilla that I found in my inbox that featured three of my favourite words in music: Montreal (i.e. Canadian), pop, and of course, prog.

It’s a fantastic album and certainly worth all your sweet tender love and attention (and moneys). If you haven’t checked that post out, I recommend you do it now so you are all caught up. Go on, we’ll wait.

Seriously, we’re in no hurry…

All done? Good. Now, who is the lovely singer-songwriting-songstress leading this talented Quebecois progonian band of musical adventurist? Why, it’s none other than the amazing Veronica Charnley…

After the write-up, I had the fortune becoming electronic pen pals with Veronica, sensing I was in the presence of greatness, I felt it my duty to commit some metaphorical pen to paper and interview Ms. Charnley before she became the next Arcade Fire and I sat here, still on my bicycle, attacking hill after hill as some kinda masochistic — or is it sadist? always get my S&M’s confused, but not my M-n-M’s! Mmmm… — “woulda-coulda-shoulda” punishment.

Some polite asking and ultimately, a bunch of questions later, we got ourselves a genuine fortified homogenized interview! WOOT! So, without further adieu (as the French Canadians say), let’s get it on as…

An Interview with Veronica Charnley of Flotilla!!!

Tsuru — First off, Veronica, thank you so much for letting us interview you today! Let’s get right to it, eh? For as long as I can remember, I’ve just been one big ass music geek! From soaking up music mags as a kid, collecting records, to trying to learn to play every instrument I thought to get my hands on (and consequently fail at it), to constantly making mixtapes for all my friends, to ridiculously long conversations/arguments/debates over every move a loved band made, to now, running yet-another-music-blog…. Sad, eh? What got you into music and how did you ultimately find yourself in Flotilla?

Veronica — To be honest, I was kind of a shy kid/teenager, and oddly enough, I felt like singing was a way for me to set straight who I was to others. It was a way for me to be myself and shed the awkwardness. I also remember my mother singing French folk songs to me as an infant. The sad ones were my favourite. There’s this song she sang about a man whose cottage gets blown down and he’s just devastated amongst the rubble. It would make me cry and then I’d ask my mother to sing it again and again. Maybe that’s when my obsession with music started!

T — Imagining a young Veronica crying… Breaks your heart a little. My wife and I are both fans of folk tales, obviously the biggest being The Crane Wife, where we got our “Tsuru” monikers from, and where she gets many of her purse design ideas, any folk-tale concept albums in the future for Flotilla, because, honestly, that would be heaven on a stick right there… Given your band’s name, maybe a sea tale of sadness, heartbreak, and a giant octopuss?

V — I’ll have to consider that, it could be an interesting project, although I have to say, I’m more drawn to realism or hyper-realism. Even as a child I never connected to folk tales or fantasy. I was always like, a talking bear, what the hell’s that?

T — Can’t think of anything more hyper-real than a giant octopus on the side your ship!


Speaking of realism… outside of my day job, cycling, and music bloggy-blogging, I’m a photographer and as a kid, I used to hide out in bookstores and look through the photography books, taking in every little bit I could with the compositions. Helmet Newton and his ability combine fashion & nudity and his perfect eye and master of natural lighting was my hero. What are some of your influences and heros?

V — Jocelyne Fleury, my voice teacher for a few years has been a huge influence. She’s a wonderful mezzo soprano who sings Wagner and I’ve been practicing her vocal warm-up exercises for years. Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way has helped me throughout the years to commit to my work and to keep plugging away at it.

T — Corny cheesy interview question time…. What inspires you?

V — The hardest part of songwriting for me is coming up with an idea or an image that interests me enough to carry the song through. So I don’t just draw from my own life, which isn’t always so interesting. I draw my inspiration often from literature, painting, photography, ear training exercises, and poetry exercises. Hanif Kureishi’s Buddha of Suburbia has inspired me for its honesty, philosophy and raunchiness. Gregory Crewdson’s staged photographs have inspired me with their hyper-realism and their implied narratives. I’m a nerd, so sometimes I use ear training exercises as a way to generate song ideas. For example, I have this book of rhythm exercises that I’ll clap through, and when a rhythm excites me, I’ll try using it on the guitar or piano and then build the song from there. These are just a few examples of what inspires me, I could go on!

T — Nice! And now, super nerdy time….. Like I admitted in my blog post on your amazing album, I was drawn to you by seeing, not just the words “Montreal” and “pop”, but maybe more importantly, “prog”. Do you consider Flotilla to be a prog band? And if so, why “prog”? Do you just want music critics to automatically not like you or do you just not care about indie cred??? lol ;)

V — A Montreal journalist labeled us indie prog pop – it wasn’t me! I agree with it though because our songs follow unconventional forms, time signature shifts and melodies. Our songs often morph into sections that are pretty different from one another, but to my mind still fit and flow together. I wouldn’t say we’re prog ROCK, because rock to me stems from blues and our music isn’t bluesy. It’s more influenced by folk and jazz. I’m not particularly attached to having indie cred, I just make music that excites me! It’s pretty selfish really!

T — That’s the best reason to make music! But some good write-ups and reviews certainly help make it financially easier, eh? Unfortunately, Prog gives one neither mainstream success nor indie cred (well, unless you disguise it under a cool name like “math rock” or something), but it can give one a visciously loyal & nerdy cult following! But I think as long as you retain your artistic integrity, performing what you love, staying true to your vision, you are already a success.

One of my favourite songs off the album is “Clouds”, to me it’s a great example of Flotilla, starting off almost like a music box, before picking up it’s pace, then dropping back, and before you know it, we are in some dream state, up in those clouds, suddenly dropping into this wicked & dirty bass line…. Oh man. Listening again now, just gorgeous. Can you give a little background and insight into this song?

V — This song took a while to write and it went through many versions before the one you hear on the album. I wrote the first part on guitar, and I loved this image of floating through the sky with my lover and escaping the city and everything. Geof and Ben, our drummer, then came up with the middle section without me, and we put it together in rehearsal. I wrote a few choruses before I decided on the one you hear on the album.

T — Brilliant! Okay, “Yay Canada” time….. In my humblest of humble opines, Canada has pretty much dominated the independent music scene for a good number of years now. What is it about Canada that makes it musically so damn amazing?

V — I guess I can only speak for Montreal – it’s a cheap place to live and there are grants available to artists. Universal health care also helps. The long winters encourage artists to stay in and hone their craft. I often joke that I wouldn’t be a songwriter if it weren’t for the winters!

T — HA! I knew it! Isolation creates geniuses and insane people! Canadians are a bit too nice to become axe-wielding serial murders, so we get tons of great music instead! HOORAY! Love Montreal, love their pro-cycling-city plan, Ms. TsuruBride and I made our way along bike lanes to the path that allowed us to trek our way up Mt. Royal on some rented hybrids, what a lovely day…..

*happy sigh*

To the unfamiliars, what are your recommended “must dos” in Montreal?

V — Montreal’s a great city for walking. I never get tired of walking down St-Laurent Blvd. It goes through so many phases, from hoochy dance clubs, to all the great indie music clubs like Barfly, Casa del Popolo, Sala Rossa and Divan Orange, to great restaurants and cafes… It’s a place where lots of cultures mix, like English, French, Portuguese, Jewish, etc. I just feel kind of excited every time I walk down that Blvd.

T — Speaking of geography… what are you favourite record shops?

V — I don’t go to record shops, I order music online.

T — *single tear rolls down my cheek*

Well, it’s understandable being on the road and what not, but the next time you are headin’ home for Canada Day, I gotta recommend Aux 33 Tours and Maison Du Disque, even if it just for meandering, loitering, and a bit of gentle perusing. Picked up a sweet copy of the Hounds Of Love LP by Kate Bush, among many other albums! Cleaned me out of more than one loonie!

Back to Flotilla… What are you guys up to right now? Touring? More recording?

V — I just moved to New York to be with Geof, who plays keyboards and bass in Flotilla, and he’s also my husband! I’m writing a lot and preparing for some gigs coming up in New York and Montreal. CBC just recorded a concert Flotilla did with a trio of flute, clarinet and percussion, and that should air sometime soon (I have yet to hear it!)

T — Wow! Sounds amazing! We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for that! When you aren’t working on Flotilla, what are you most likely found to be doing?

V — Cooking (I love making tacos and tofu banana cream pie!), watching movies, going for walks, reading and writing poetry.

T — I’m the cook in our family too, back in the day, I was even a genuine budding chef and everything! Nowadays though, I’m pretty content to make fun, fresh, & deliciously nutritiously foods for us, like homemade pizzas on pita bread. A recent concoction…. Turkey meatloaf & sweet potatoe “meringue (not really)” pie! Sweet & hardy & scrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumptious!

Now, I love me some tacos! What are your favourite shell fillers??

V — You can’t go wrong with these fillers: black beans with cumin, red onlon, tomato, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, lots of lime juice, and mango! Pizza on pita bread works really well – have you tried it with homemade pesto and portabello mushrooms?

T — That sounds amazing! No, I haven’t tried a pesto, but I’m thinking I’ll have to pick up some pine nuts this weekend….. Okay, damn, getting hungry, back to music….. What are some “Essential Veronica Charnley Albums”, some required listenings for our readers to get to know you?

V — Just Another Diamond Day by Vashti Bunyan, Yellow House by Grizzly Bear, African Rhythms with music by Gyorgy Ligeti, Steve Reich, and traditional African music, Vespertine by Bjork, Blue by Joni Mitchell, & Television by Television

T — Damn, bringin’ the eclectic heat! WOOT! You really are a music nerd! Ever get into Nina Simone? Sounds like she’d be right up your alley! Any new music you’ve been stuck on or super excited to get your hands on?

V — I do like Nina Simone, and honestly, I’m not listening to new stuff much these days. I like listening to world music and the rest of the time I’m working on my own music. But maybe this is just a phase I’m going through.

T — Well, with the influx of new music these days, it’s understandable to put all of that on hold and focus on the roots.

Veronica, Thank you so much for taking the time to let us harass you with our questions! Hope to see you guys real soon in Columbus!

V — Thank you, this was fun! And I’d love to make it to Columbus sometime. Maybe we can cook something together!

T — We can have a pizza party!!! I love pizza parties…..


Thank you again Veronica. It was a pleasure…

Now, we aren’t done yet, because, what would a massive, possibly overwhelming TSURURADIO post be without a little music to get you through the weekend? A bad post, that’s what. And here at TSURURADIO, we stand for quality! haha!

But seriously, Flotilla inspired me to get my mixtape on, and man o’ man is this bad boy ON. We got the gamut! We got your current pop & rock gems I’ve been digging! We got your Montrealeans, Montrolians, Montrealians, well, we got some bands from Montreal on there bringin’ the heat! AND we even got ourselves a bit o’ the prog, and not just with Flotilla! Oh yeah, that’s right, uh huh, all mixed & wrapped up in a gapless 25 song, over one and a half hour long, near-epic mixtape!

Admit it…. you are just a little turned on right now, aren’t you. It’s okay, it’ll be our little secret, ya music-sicko. So, I’ll tell ya what, let’s do this thing! Let’s send out the week & start this weekend up in proper style! Enjoy and I hope to see you at Tiny Canary as…….

Photography by Me!

TSURURADIO Proudly Presents…
Even If We Yelled Outloud Our Voices Couldn’t Penetrate The Clouds Mixtape!!!
(Full Zip)


01 Loney, Dear – Intro – Untitled
02 Julian Casablancas – Out Of The Blue
03 Tutankamon – Have You Ever Been In Love
04 Field Music – Measure
05 Tegan And Sara – Paperback Head
06 Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
07 Alec Ounsworth – Modern Girl (With Scissors)
08 Laura Veirs – Sun Is King
09 Laura Barrett – Robot Ponies
10 Freelance Whales – We Could Be Friends
11 Tim Williams – I Hit Another Wall
12 Langhorne Slim – Cinderella
13 Espers – The Road Of Golden Dust
14 Sunset Rubdown – The Courtesan Has Sung
15 Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work
16 Land Of Talk – May You Never
17 Flotilla – Clouds
18 Grizzly Bear – Ready, Able
19 As Tall As Lions – You Can’t Take It With You
20 The Mary Onettes – Once I Was Pretty
21 Fionn Regan – Protection Racket
22 The Minor Leagues – Good Boys
23 Royal Bangs – Waking Up Weird
24 Islands – Pieces Of You
25 Slaraffenland – Stars And Smiles – Outro

Some Charnley & Co link love that you oughter be clickerin’!
Flotilla Myspace | Flotilla Facebook

Have a great weekend everyone! Remember, where ever you are… Go riding!

Tsuru And The Bride | Etsy | Society | Facebook | Twitter

2 comments for “TSURURADIO Presents… An Interview with Veronica Charnley of Flotilla with Accompanying Mixtape!!!

  1. rich
    November 15, 2009 at 7:14 PM

    I really enjoyed the mix! I come to your website all the time. It's great. I really like how much you advocate for Kate Bush. She's amazing. Also, Canada is amazing.

  2. Tsuru
    November 18, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    Thanks Rich! Agreed on both Bush & Canada!! So glad you enjoyed the mixtape!

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