introduction by trevor elkin
If you didn’t manage to catch our introducing piece on Canadian singer-songwriter Dana Gavanski last month, fear not, we now have the pleasure of bringing you the entire album from which the debut, ‘How Much Is Enough’ was taken. And, does it shine.
I first encountered Gavanski on Bandcamp back in June, where she had uploaded a version of this same album, ‘Spring Demos’. Listening to it on a heady, early summer evening, as scores of starlings danced around the tree lines, it was inevitable that every track would eventually become entangled in the warm, romantic fuzziness at the end of a ‘very good day’. But it was the return visits, to songs such as ‘Circles’, ‘The Wind (Blew You Away)’ and ‘The Heart Inside’, which cut a path across this initial enthusiasm, toward a much deeper appreciation of Gavanski’s vocal presence and importance. On speaking to her, I find Gavanski is completely surprised that her music has had such an impact, miles across the Atlantic. She tells me her fascination with music started at an early age. As far back as she can remember, she’s sung. Her mother often attributes this musicality to when she herself, while pregnant, joined a German choir in Vancouver. Like many artists, for a time, Gavanski gave up the idea of pursuing a musical career altogether, but during her last years of University her guitar became a vital mechanism to get her through, playing between classes.
Like the last known recording of a long-forgotten folk singer, tucked away in an unassuming thrift store, ‘Spring Demos’ feels like it was just out there, a gift left by a loved-one, waiting to be noticed. We’re fortunate to have these demos, which, Gavanski reminds me are “more like drafts, (not that I’m a stickler for perfection or anything)” and could quite easily have remained on a disk somewhere. We’re lucky too, because they resonate with all the honesty and imperfections of a single moment; the vulnerability of performer and listener are joined intimately through music. That’s a rare, beautiful thing especially for a first release.
There is so much more we could write on the effect these songs have, but really, they don’t need our embellishments. Instead, we’ve asked Gavanski (who is also a talented photographer) to share insight into their world through a series of images. Stream the arresting folk of ‘Spring Demos’ in full exclusively below, alongside photos taken by Gavanski and some of her closest friends
words by dana gavanski
photos by dana gavanski, ted crosby & ralitsa doncheva
“Only time could tell us what was real, what would be, what we could feel”
I wrote this song shortly after arriving in London, after a summer holed up in a musty office in the Lawrencians, working for my dad as a secretary on a horror film. I bought myself a plane ticket to visit my family in Europe – London, Serbia and Croatia.
This song came as an answer to a question I couldn’t reconcile, before travelling to meet a relative I didn’t know how to understand – a person I couldn’t clarify.
It’s a memory of emotions and the title kinda gives it away, I suppose… I’ll leave it at that.
I tried to write a song about momentary perceptions, taking into account the sensations around me and their influence on my thoughts and decisions…
This is basically the ‘first’ song I ever wrote, moments before leaving for a short trip to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with my partner mid-September 2016. The weather was quickly changing, crisp and coloured – no longer that humid August heat which is so typical of Montreal. This is my favourite time of the year, when change is so apparent and transient, the wind colder and stronger, pulling at the roots.
…trying to bridge my interior thought process with an exterior world that I don’t often acknowledge I’ve shut out.
I wrote this in the winter of 2017. It came from a state of questioning, of how much I could emotionally and physically understand and hold inside myself – my own limits of understanding and the degrees to which I consciously and unconsciously let these limits be crossed.
I wondered what was necessary in my life and if, in the chaos of the moment, it was even possible to shed some light on it all and reach some kind of rather botched understanding.
I tried to conjure an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a long time.
I wished to speak to her, but had no way.
“Caught between words and dreams, skin exposed to broken seams
They can’t see what you hide, they can’t tell truth from lies…”
Another song about nature, I suppose.
About sitting in my room and looking out the window.
In the dead of winter. Beautiful and desolate.
…long hours of wondering.
I really liked this progression when I discovered it. Dark and brooding, but upbeat in a way.
The song is a meditation on distance and the desire to change things, but not knowing how to go about it.
Reoccurring thoughts that become negative because of their immobility.
I was close to leaving this one out… This was the last song I recorded after an 8 hour long session.
In fact, It was the last one I wrote on this EP, (though the order is not actually chronological).
But somehow I couldn’t separate the minute from the hour,
the second from the minute.
‘Spring Demos’ is available via Fox Food Records, order it here