Loryn Taggart – The Lost Art of Pulling Through interview

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Loryn Taggart in Montreal 2023

Alberta-born, Montreal-based singer-songwriter Loryn Taggart is about to release her excellent debut album The Lost Art of Pulling Through, which will be available everywhere on Friday, September 29.

Pre-order the album HERE 

Loryn will celebrate the album with a release show at Lion D’or in Montreal on October 2. Tickets are on sale now HERE.

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Following the unfathomable grief of losing her father, Loryn Taggart began creating The Lost Art of Pulling Through as a concept album, bringing the listener on a journey through loss and how creation can bring you back to life and out of the depths of anger, self-doubt and writers’ block. The album reflects what comes after the pain, that there is another side to grief – you will discover happiness again through your healing journey. Through storytelling and musical exploration, Loryn intertwines jazz ballads with moving instrumental composition, a touch of blues and pop elements, with contemporary folk.

The Lost Art of Pulling Through was produced by Marcus Paquin (Tim Baker, The National, Stars), Daniel Lacoste, and Joe Moralez, while Loryn produced three tracks on her own and co-produced three others. The 10-track LP features collaborations with notable Canadian musicians such as Jadea Kelly, Isaac Symonds (Half Moon Run), Loryn’s brother Matthew Taggart and many others.

We caught up with Loryn at her home in Verdun to talk about the record as well as her musical journey.

What can you tell us about this album?

I’m so excited for it to come out. It’s been about a five-year project at this point.

So we don’t count COVID, right? So three.

COVID’s actually part of the reason that… honestly, what made the album what it is. Originally, this album was supposed to be recorded in Boston, Massachusetts. That reason being because I went couch surfing in 2018 in the States, and I just kind of bounced from city to city. Boston was the last city that I stayed in, and my couch-surfing host was a producer, and we just got along like a house on fire. And after talking about music and travel and friendship and creativity, we decided to record together, and I released a couple songs with him, and then went back to Canada to work and kind of suss out what kind of album I wanted to create, and he said, “Let’s record it in Boston.” We started demoing things online and just kind of got ourselves sorted for this album.

And then our recording date was March 20th, 2020. I had a Greyhound bus ticket booked from Montreal to Boston, and I was going to, I think, be in Boston for like three months and just record. And then the borders closed, so I couldn’t get to Boston. And that was really upsetting. That was heartbreaking because I had this track list, and I had the whole thing ready. I had an album title and an album, and the album artwork and the track list, and an idea for the album.

So it got to age a little bit more and kind of mature. 

Thousand percent. Like, I feel like what I had before, I was like a kid or something. So the album was put on hold.

And I had to do it in Canada because I still wanted to make an album. But I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t know producers. I was brand new to Montreal. I’d only moved here like six months prior. 

From Toronto? Or from Alberta?

Long story short, from China. I was studying in China, and I had to leave China. It’s not for the faint of heart, I guess. It’s not the easiest life.

I want to talk about travel later. It’s very important to you. I want to put a pin in it because I want to go back. You’ve been exposed to music ever since you were young. I want to take you back to a young version of Loryn. And you’re flipping through your parents’ CD collection, album collection. Is there any album or song or band that took music from something you heard to something you felt? Like it opened your eyes musically to a new universe. 

I mean, there’s the obvious ones, like Pink Floyd and The Beatles, which are my dad’s favourite bands. And him and I, when I was a kid, used to go on these road trips, these back-country road trips through Alberta, where we would take a weekend, and we would choose a new town, whether a small town, ghost town, mining town, abandoned town. And we would drive, and he would introduce me to a new discography of a new artist, whether it was Beatles or Pink Floyd or Zeppelin, Bonnie Raitt, Ana Popovic, very bluesy. And he would give me the full history of this artist and play every album by them. And at the end of this trip, I was an expert on this artist. Music defined this person. He made music something that you should feel or create or be. He shared it with me because it was so important to understand it.

That’s something that you shared with your father. Was there a point in your life where you found something that kind of you call your own? Your sound is such an old soul sound. I want to understand where that came from.

I think because my family supported music in the household so strongly. There was always music playing when someone was cooking breakfast or making dinner. It was just always playing. Mom was always singing. Dad was always playing guitar. Dad had a music room in the house where it was just a room for music. And he had his vinyl collection, a cassette collection, a CD collection, and a couch. And you sat there, and you just listened to music. Music was really, really important. My older brother was a musician. Mom was a singer. It was really supported.

I mean, I can think of one particular moment that I knew I wanted to be a musician. Music always came really naturally. I learned guitar and piano by ear, self-taught on both, and singing as well. But wanting to be a musician, it was the Juno Awards of 2008. And they were in Calgary, Alberta that year. I won a radio contest to go watch the red carpet of the Juno Awards. And on the red carpet, there was a radio DJ that was asking questions about the music industry and asked something about who’s won the most Junos. And I’m 13, but I knew it was Anne Murray. And I answered the question. He said, do you want free tickets to the show?

And seeing the Juno Awards was the most exciting moment of my life. And that was the year that Feist won for her album, “The Reminder.” And watching her win for that album did it for me. I saw her do that, and then she performed.

For me, in my experience, in my upbringing, it was the first time I’d seen a musician like that winning everything. This was the first folk, soulful— Yeah, she was different. From my experience, she was different, finally. 

The album started out of a deep loss. Trauma, in a way. Losing your father has got to be traumatic. At the end of it… this is where you started with trauma, loss. At the end, where did you find yourself?

Honestly… I think going through the grief while creating an album at the same time was the best gift. Because I just got to feel it all in recording, in hearing the music back, in dedicating a lot of things to him, in writing songs for him, in writing every time I felt. I was so grateful that I had something to express.

Originally, my dad passed while I was in the middle of recording a song called The River, which I released in 2020… And I was in the studio when he passed recording that song. And I didn’t want to keep recording. My mom helped me, gave me the confidence, or I guess the permission. I’m not really sure what the word is. But knowing my mom was comfortable with it, or kind of saying, you should do it because that’s what he would want, I finished recording that song. Then I took a long break from being able to record. But I knew I wanted this album done.

There’s never a good time to lose somebody, but these things that I went through at the exact same time, losing my dad, recording an album, and getting married all at the same time gave me so much strength. I’m actually really grateful that all those things happened at the same time. Because I needed all three to happen to do them all successfully.

But what I didn’t want for this album to sound like the grief I was feeling. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to sit at a piano and cry. I mean, I did. But I didn’t want it to be a grief album. I wanted it to be pulling through, actually celebrating the life, especially… I mean, that’s the title of the album. Especially because my dad was such a music lover and music defined in human form. It had to be an album that sounded like healing and happy and good. And the subject matter throughout the album is quite sad. All of it is quite sad. Every song deals with something that you had to pull out of. Had to pull through. But I wanted it to be music that made you feel good about doing it or hopeful. Even Tell Me How, the second track on the album and where the lyric, the lost art of pulling through, comes from. It’s a really sad song. But it’s so gospelly and groovy and hopeful because that’s what healing feels like. It feels like you’re sitting there and you’re just letting the air toss you back and forth. But it’s always getting better because it’s always going to get better. And I didn’t want to listen back to this album 10 years from now and go, oh, I was so sad the whole time.

The latest signal is Lighthouse. A lighthouse is a symbol. It’s a beacon of safety. What is the thing that makes you feel safe in your life?

I have very cliche answers. But my husband and my mom… my very beautiful relationship with my family, especially post-losing dad. We’ve gotten much closer as a family, much more vulnerable with each other. Our communication skills are very good. But close relationships make me feel safe. My home makes me feel safe. I feel safe with myself… I travelled for so long solo. So I’ve had to rely on myself a lot in scary times and in tough times. So I feel safe with me… I’m a homebody. I like to be home. So just my walls and my people and my walls, that makes me feel safe, people. And my beautiful little cat. She’s good. She’s good for my head, for sure.

I want to show you your first Instagram post.

I was a baby in New York City.

So tell me the story about that time. If you remember.

Am I in it? No, no, I would have taken it. 2012 was the year I graduated high school. Give my regards to Broadway was the caption. So I was a musical theatre kid. I loved Broadway. My mom and I went to go see Hello, Dolly live in Calgary. I love Barbra Streisand. I love Broadway. I love New York.

I think my mom and I went to New York for my graduation present when I graduated high school. I was lead in my high school musical. I believed I was going to be the biggest Broadway star ever just because I loved it. What a dream.

Watch the full interview below:

The Lost Art of Pulling Through will be available everywhere on Friday, September 29.

Interview – Randal Wark

Photos – Steve Gerrard and Jen Squires

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