Ché Aimee Dorval
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Ché Aimee Dorval

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Alternative Folk

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Jul
21
Ché Aimee Dorval @ Uptown! Live

New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada

New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada

Jun
16
Ché Aimee Dorval @ The Railway Club

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Jun
06
Ché Aimee Dorval @ Kits House, Vancouver

British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia, Canada

Music

Press


Ché Aimee Dorval Album Review/Press


Introduction: I discovered Ché Dorval via Devin Townsend’s album, ‘Ki’ which was released last year. Now, I’m obviously a Townsend fan and he has collaborated with numerous and insanely skillful musicians over the years. But…this lady completely blew me away when I heard her on this particular album.

I’m a picky sort when it comes to female vocalists – many times they are either way too technically ‘pretty and perfect’ or venture into the girly girl territory which does nothing for me either way. Hearing Ché’s marvelously textured, strong and darkly brilliant voice piqued my interest to check out who she was and what she *really* did. I was stunningly blown away, yet again.

A uniquely talented and soulful artist in her own right, her music is joyously subtle yet always straight from the heart & mind. Please, take the time to check her out and support her music – buy her album from her website because this is an artist that you will look back upon 20 years from now and say ‘I discovered her music way back before she was hugely famous’. I guarantee it.

I offer you a press review of her solo album, 'Underachiever', below. Click this link to purchase her album: http://www.cheaimee.com/fr_music.cfm





‘Underachiever’

It takes guts to be vulnerable, to lay yourself out and await either the adoration or the knives. And, there are plenty of artists who attempt to travel this difficult landscape. I say attempt because often there appears to be too much ‘trying’ and not enough ‘being’ in their music. ‘Underachiever’ is a too-modest title that reveals an artist deeply connected to this state of being, spinning lyrical conversations directly transmitted from the soul.

A gloriously understated debut album, Ché Aimee could have very quickly taken the easy road to pop stardom. After winning Canada’s version of Star Search, Dorval was offered a record contract for musical legend David Foster’s label. Incredibly, she politely declined and chose instead to follow her own instinct and artistic truth.

And speaking of, there is plenty of truth here. The songs slowly turn around in your brain, revealing themselves like a melancholic dance of the seven veils. ‘Needs Fixing’ is a clever metaphor that turns a relationship’s rusty hinges with the missing screws into a handyman’s check list – or else. Interesting and unusual instruments pop up on the album, too. There are no credits that I could find (via the download from her website) so one can only guess. A lovely accordian or possibly bandoneon lilts behind Ché on ‘Getting Lighter’ as well as steel guitar on the above mentioned ‘Needs Fixing’.

Quietly intense, Ché Aimee’s songs are the sort that sneak around buildings to follow you home in order to leave a bunch of daisies at your doorstep. These are softly personal lyrics that reveal not only a sensitive mind but also a touch of the sideshow clown’s assistant: playful and comical at times, but you can see a bit of past heartbreak in every glance or world-weary smile.

My favorite songs are really where it is just girl and guitar – these highlight both her vocal and songwriting skills and the lyrics stand out as poetry well suited to the subject matter (‘Underachiever’, ‘The Dinosaur Song’). ‘The Fading Kind’ is a darkly longing treatise, the realization of a relationship spiralling downward while still addicted to feelings that just won’t go away. The bare and stark arrangements on this song remain the best showcase for Ché’s talents - it sounds as if she is singing only to you, right against your ear and it is devastating.

Her voice is striking because it is a living, breathing entity that blossoms head and top hat above most vocalists of her caliber and genre. The sheer smokiness combined with the wise yet strong feminine presence is indeed a rare find. Sure, there are plenty of pop, folk and rock vocalists who can sweetly sing with the birds or evoke a girlishness that many find irresistible (or annoying, in my case). But hers is a powerfully subtle sword that deftly cleaves emotional mountains. Sometimes, it even pierces right through the secure little membrane that surrounds your true self - startling you out of your slumber in this sterile, overly marketed-to world we envelope ourselves within.

This music is about you. And her. And the spaces in between that usually remain unspoken. If art is truth and truth is spirit, then Ché Aimee’s ‘Underachiever’ is the beautifully dressed stranger on the side of the road, gracefully pointing you towards a higher path of gentle awareness.


-Tiina Teal / April 2010
Los Angeles, CA - Tiina Teal, LA Magazine


Ahead of her first ever solo gigs in the UK Canadian singer-songwriter Che Aimee Dorval gave us an exclusive interview. She will be playing across the country as support to Australian Kim Churchill following a short visit to Europe last year with Casualties of Cool, her acclaimed “space-country” project with fellow Canuck Devin Townsend. You can see Part 1 of her chat with Louder Than War here.

She picks up the story when she was working on “Volume 1”. Then a surprising and important phone call came through…

Randomly out of the blue while I was recording the new EP (“Volume 1”), Devin called me up. He was like, “Hey! Would you be interested in doing sort of a moody, really low-key sort of like country thing? Where we both write and there’s no pressure, we can just send things back and forth and there’s no time limit. Just to see where it goes?” I was like, “Hell yes! That’s right up my alley!” That’s how I got to know him. Kind of musically at first.

Che and Devin never actually met up in person during the recording. It was all done remotely, sending the music to each other.

It was cool. It’s my favourite writing experience to date. At the very beginning he sent me three guitar tracks. One was “Daddy”, one was for “The Field” and also “Mountaintop”. They were really sparse. One was just one guitar. It was sparse with him humming some bits here and there or gibberish singing. I do that all the time, it’s the perfect way to write and afterwards you create a poem. He was like, “There are no restrictions. You can do whatever you want. Let’s just see where this goes.”

A budding partnership was quickly formed which would ultimately result in the Casualties of Cool album…

“The Field” was the first one I tackled. It was really, really late one night and I think I’d had a fight with my boyfriend or something. I didn’t want to go to bed so I started working on this song and it didn’t have any vocals. So I just started singing along and writing lyrics. I sent it back and Devin really, really liked it. I was like, “Cool! We’ll work on some others.” It was back and forth. For the majority of the songs he’d send me ideas, then I’d expand on them and write lyrics and melodies. Then I would flip around the arrangements in Pro Tools.

There were some dark things in her head at this time…

“Flight” (see below) was the only one that we co-wrote 100%, split down the middle. In that period when we were writing it I was as I guess we all get sometimes pretty depressed, especially from November to February. Maybe it’s seasonal. I was feeling really, really shitty and music is a perfect way to sort of release some of that. It’s like talking to someone and feeling that they’re understanding you. I was feeling really awful at that point in my life maybe for a couple of different reasons. Writing those lyrics was like I was giving up. I wasn’t actually giving up, but it felt like exactly what I would say if I was giving up. It’s pretty simple, I just felt like shit.



Devin was so moved by what she sent him back that he wrote his own version, “Fight”, which appears on the double edition of the album. With the titles of the two songs referring to the well-known psychology term, it strengthened the bond of understanding between them…

I think it (“Fight”) is really beautiful. That’s my favourite part of writing with him, having another perspective and someone to have your back when you’re feeling awful. We’ve got to know each other a lot better now. We’re good friends. He’s quite amazing. That song “Fight” was obviously like a “Chin up, man! You can either just give up or try to face it and get up over it.” That’s the kind of guy he is, which is really nice to have in my life. He’s a really strong person. He plays it down a lot. He’ll second-guess himself a little bit like “I’m just being crazy!” but he never is. He’s always on point. He knows where he’s going and he knows where he’s been. I look up to him so much as a person.

When the album was released in May 2014 it received praise from all directions and inevitably there was a clamour for live shows. Just three, two in the UK, were announced and the trip to Europe proved to be another milestone in her career...

It was amazing. Amazing. It’s all I ever wanna do now. It’s because my whole life I didn’t quite know if I wanted to do all the parts of music that there are. Like the business part and all of that. I like to write, I like to sing and I like people listening to those things. But I didn’t know. Performing scares the shit out of me. I like doing it once I’m up there but it stresses me out. Doing it touring with Devin and being over there was an entirely different experience, like you’re not in your own backyard. Nobody knows you, you can be your true self. The person you want to be. Especially with this project and touring you know everyone is there because they like it already. At some shows you’re like “nobody knows who I am! Let’s hope they don’t all leave or boo!” Which hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a constant fear.

Over there (UK and Europe) people bought the tickets ’cause they love the album so it was exciting to sing to them. The touring part, just being on the road and everything that goes with it I loved. I don’t even know why. I was surrounded these… Devin surrounds himself with lovely people. Nobody’s shitty, you know? They’re genuinely good people and I found myself sitting around in the little living room part of this huge tour bus talking about shit jokes and poop! (laughs) It was actually pretty fun! Also at Devin’s guitar clinic things (example here) he’s so wry and he’s pretending he’s so unimpressed doing this clinic but it’s so funny to watch! He’s a genius.

Che and Devin Townsend perform with Casualties of Cool at Beautiful Days festival.

Her partner, Mike, played guitar for Casualties of Cool on their tour and as it turned out his support came in handy…

It was amazing. Mike and I are really good in that we’re not in each other’s pocket. He’s not clingy, I’m not clingy. I don’t know if I’m a calming presence in his life, but he’s a calming presence in mine. I tend to get really anxious and scared of new things. Just having him there with me, although Devin’s crew are so lovely that without him would have been fine, but having him there was amazing. For instance at the Union Chapel show I think there were a couple of journalists in the hotel and they were waiting to do an interview. I came out and one of them was like, “Okay, we wanna ask you a question, but it’s kind of offensive and we want to ask you if you don’t mind. We have this bet.” I was like, “Yeah sure. Tell me. What’s going on?” Which I regret! (laughs) The girl is like, “Don’t say it!” The guy is like, “We were wondering how old you are?” I was like, “Sure! You’re guessing how old I am?” In Vancouver I get mistaken for being 20 to 30. I still get ID’d. I can look pretty young sometimes. So I’ve never really been scared of the whole age question. So I was like, “I’m 40.” The guy was like, “See?!” I lost my mind inside. I was so sad. The girl looks at my face and whispers to him, “Don’t say any more!” I went over to Mike, who was sat having a drink and I’m like, “They think I’m 40…” Not that it’s a bad thing but it’s ten years older than my age, and I’m a girl! (laughs) Mike helped in that situation immensely. He’s a good person to have around when you’re about to lose your shit! (laughs)

While Che had been getting immersed in the world of Casualties of Cool another very significant record was released. She won backing of legendary Rolling Stones producer/manager Andrew Loog Oldham and recorded “Volume 1” at his Vancouver studio. This was after she had tackled a lyrically re-worked version of the Stones’ controversial tale of misogynistic control, “Under My Thumb”, turning it on its head. The song appears on Loog Oldham’s “Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2”, released in 2013 and also featuring Gruff Rhys, Johnny Marr and Vashti Bunyan. Che also sang on the final track, “As Tears Go By”. Clips of the tracks can be heard here.

This opportunity came thanks to another fortunate coincidence, right place and right time…

This world is so weird. You run into people and it doesn’t make any sense. Andrew Loog Oldham has a studio in Vancouver and it’s rented out when he’s not using it for his own projects. My friend was renting it for his band, Bees Make It, and I sang on one of their songs. The studio manager, Gary and Andrew Oldham are partners essentially. Gary heard my voice and was like, “Holy shit!” and sent it to Andrew who at that point was looking for artists to sing some Rolling Stones songs for his new “Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2”. He really liked it so he sent me three of the songs to try out and we connected over that. Then he liked it so much he offered me a recording contract to record my own stuff and do whatever I wanted to do, which was amazing. There’s not a lot of record companies, independent or big ones, who will give you money, studio, equipment and just let you do whatever you want to do. He did that and then this EP, “Volume 1”, came about.

She admits she didn’t realise who Loog Oldham was initially…

Not at first! Then they told me and I was like, “Woah! What?!” I was a little bit shocked. I was pretty oblivious. I did a lot of things that I just think, “Yeah sure. I’ll do this whatever.” Then people said he was the Rolling Stones guy and I’d be like, “Sure he is…” (laughs)

When it was decided Che would cover “Under My Thumb” she wanted to put her own stamp on it…

I just did it. It made more sense. Andrew owned a little bit of the publishing I think, so we weren’t gonna get in trouble for doing it. It was going to be from a woman’s point of view and I just did it. They said, “We like it!” and I was like, “Cool!” It was good for me (as a woman). I have a hard time giving up my own power so there was no way I was singing this song like I was a waif! It was gonna be a strong kind of thing. My mother was very happy about that. She’s a pretty strong lady and she really liked the song.

As well as The Rolling Stones another musical great from an era way before she was born became a huge influence in her life. The British folk singer Nick Drake instantly struck a chord with her. It was love at first listen…

I discovered him pretty late in life actually, probably like most people over here. This is so silly, but I think one of his songs, “One Of These Things First”, was on a soundtrack of all things. “The Garden State” (2004) movie soundtrack. I loved it. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard. It was just so honest. His writing is so honest and peaceful and melancholy. That’s what I’m drawn to because I generally feel that way most of the time, peaceful and melancholy. I was obsessed with it and I bought “Pink Moon”, “Five Leaves Left” and “Bryter Layter”. Then I read his story and it kind of resonated with me in that he just constantly felt like he was failing, you know? He was just doing what he felt came naturally to him because he needed to. He seemed to have this really heavy insecurity and depression. I can understand that so I think that was another reason why I loved him so much. Then I heard the song “River Man” and I think I listened to that song over and over and over again for a month. That’s probably one of my favourite songs in the entire world. How could someone write something that beautiful?

She thinks discovering Drake had a massive impact of her own musical direction…

I’d say so, more than anything. Him and Jeff Buckley. For me music isn’t just what they put out, it’s who they are. You can see what they are without prying. Everything about the Nick Drake’s writing and who he was makes so much sense because I think I feel that way too. It’s really, really sad how it ended but I can understand where he was coming from.

With all the experience she has gained so far Che is determined to push herself further, maybe including further action with Casualties of Cool…

I think it’s a very good possibility. It’s funny but we were hanging out one night when Devin parked his car in a Tow Away Zone and it it got towed! (laughs) It was pretty funny! I had to drive him to the impound lot and I had put on Portishead. “Portishead” by Portishead with “Cowboys” and “All Mine”. He listened. It’s my favourite album of all time and it’s really, really…it sounds like witches! (laughs) It’s really creepy and evil but beautiful. That’s my favourite kind of music. That’s what I want to create. It really resonated with Devin too. So I feel like when we do another record it’s gonna be a bit evil in a way. That’s exciting. I think there’ll be a couple more (albums), but I don’t know when. At the end of the Helsinki show we really were a band and everything came together. All of us were like, “Man, I wish we had a lot more of this to do!” One of the only reasons we didn’t was ’cause Devin is so busy and the Ziltoid thing was coming out. That damn alien got in the way! (laughs)

She might pay a visit to London’s Royal Albert Hall for the sold-out Ziltoid extravaganza in April…

I’m gonna try. I really want to!

But before that she has her own tour lined up, making her UK solo debut with a 2-week run supporting fellow singer-songwriter Kim Churchill. Exciting times are ahead though she retains a sweet self-deprecating outlook on it all…

I have no idea. I’m not quite the business woman! (laughs) I put the EP out and I’m happy I did. I’m excited to move on to the next thing. I hope people will like it. I’m focussed on the future and I’m going to tour it. I’ve been talking to some people in the UK and they really like the EP, so they’re championing it over there to different labels and booking agents. Now I’m focussed on getting my live show up to par! (laughs)

You can see and hear for yourself when she hits these shores next month. Get along if you can.

~
Che’s EP, “Volume 1″, is out now, check out our review here, and she is online at cheaimeedorval.com. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter as @cheaimee.

Casualties of Cool can be found online here: casualtiesofcool.com. They can also be liked on Facebook, via Devin Townsend’s page. Devon’s also on twitter as @dvntownsend.

Che will be special guest with Australian singer-songwriter Kim Churchill on his UK tour in March. Tickets are available here and the dates in full are:

Mar 2 Mon Borderline, London
Mar 3 Tue Exchange, Bristol
Mar 4 Wed The Barrel House, Totnes
Mar 5 Thu Koola Bar, Newquay
Mar 6 Fri The Bullingdon, Oxford
Mar 7 Sat Drygate, Glasgow
Mar 8 Sun Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh
Mar 9 Mon Cluny 2, Newcastle
Mar 10 Tue The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Mar 11 Wed Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham,
Mar 12 Thu The Boileroom, Guildford
Mar 13 Fri The Forum, Tunbridge Wells
All words by Nick Holmes. More writing by Nick on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Nick tweets as @oldenick666. - Louderthanwar.com


In the first part of our exclusive interview (for a UK publication) Canadian singer-songwriter Che Aimee Dorval talks to us about growing up in the Vancouver music scene, finding her confidence and singing with Devin Townsend for the first time.

Che Aimee Dorval will have come to people’s attention last year as the main collaborator of Canadian heavy metal maestro Devin Townsend on his “space-country” experiment Casualties of Cool. After a record-breaking PledgeMusic campaign which raised more than 500% of its target the resulting self-titled album received rave reviews. It was followed by a trio of shows, debuting at The Levellers-run Beautiful Days festival in Devon. The band then put on a highly-acclaimed performance at London’s Union Chapel and a final one in Helsinki, Finland. After that Devin returned to his “day job” as leader of the Devin Townsend Project. That left Che to concentrate on her own solo career.

Che sang for the legendary Rolling Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham on his “Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2” (2013), re-working the controversial lyrics of “Under My Thumb” into an ode to female empowerment. In October 2014 she self-released “Volume 1”, a half-dozen songs recorded at Oldham’s studio in Vancouver.

Before we jump into the interview though check out this video of her playing We Go from Volume 1 EP. As the title suggests it was recorded early in the morning at Falconettis and underneath she’s explained: “My amazing friend Morgan opened up his bar this morning so I could shoot this video to apply for a touring grant!”



~
Her childhood soundtrack was filled with fairly typical sounds, but also one or two guilty pleasures!

Che: My mum loved Fleetwood Mac so I grew up with that. I still to this day can’t get enough! Queen, obviously, was a staple. Embarrassingly ABBA was also a staple, but I love it! (laughs) Also, I was a kid. I’m just gonna say that before. (laughs) I loved Air Supply a lot and now when I listen to it I’m like, “This is the cheesiest thing I have ever heard!” But as a kid I was belting out “All Out Of Love” in the car. It was heaven! That was a time. (laughs) And musicals, “Les Miserables”, I know every single line of that. “Rent” obviously. Pavarotti, big fan of him as well. I was heavily influenced by my mum. She had a very varied group of musicians in the house.

She also showed her daughter one important way to not follow her example…

Che: My mum sang when she was younger. Apparently we have almost the same voice, but she’s been smoking since she was seventeen and she’s completely lost her voice. It’s just gone. She’ll still sing and it used to make me want to cry. Not ’cause it was so bad it made me want to cry, but just the fact that she used to be able to do what I do, and it feels so good to do it. Just to not be able to do it any more, that’s why I don’t smoke.

Mum wasn’t the only tuneful person in the family…

Che: My aunt is a very musical person. She plays guitar and writes and sings. My uncle’s an actor so he had a ton of musicians that were always round the house. My uncle was a badass, kind of like a really cool metal badass, and actually Devin (Townsend) was his friend. I didn’t know that until a year ago or something! (laughs) The music scene’s so small here we all kind of know each other. So my uncle would have all these metal, long-haired gruff guys there and I was this little six-year-old! (laughs) There was a lot of music in the house. A lot of very different music.

Those relatives encouraged her to make the jump into the public arena…

Che: When I was little I would only sing in the bath, by myself. I would never let anyone hear me sing. So whoever was in the house at the time would come to the bathroom door and listen apparently! I only just heard about this recently! (laughs) That’s how they knew I could sing. So knowing all of this, and knowing I was deathly shy, my uncle set up a little weekly spot for me to sing at this little French bistro down the street from our house that he went to all the time. This was when I was 16. My folks were like, “you’re gonna finally do this in front of people. You can do it! We’ve heard you! You should probably try this out.”

So they set up this spot for me and one of my uncle’s friends, who’s an amazing guitar player and songwriter, told me to pick three songs and he would play the guitar. I think I prepared for that for a long time. For three months because I had never stepped out in front and done this before. I told all of my high school friends. When the night came the room was packed and I’d picked a David Gray song, “Sail Away”. Another one was “I Know” by Jude, it’s really beautiful. The other was the first song I ever wrote, which is actually on the new EP, “Lights Out”, the last song. So I got up there and I was so fucking awkward (cringes). I just stood there and it was really, really scary. But when I sing it’s effortless, because it’s what I can do and it feels really nice. I can look really awkward and I can feel really scared, but I can do it. So I did that and the people that owned the French bistro, who are lovely, asked if I wanted to do a weekly spot. I did that from 16 to when I graduated. Then I travelled Europe for a little bit.

During this time she had also picked up the guitar…

Che: I’m not the greatest player. (laughs) I love playing it and think I’m pretty good, but I’m not confident in it like I am with my voice. I played then, but very rarely would I just accompany myself myself. Usually Tim (her uncle’s friend) would be there too to flesh it out. I’m getting a lot better now. I’m over it. Now I’m 30 I guess I should get over those things! (laughs) I got my first guitar when I was 15 or 16. We had a family guitar I would just pick up and play every once in a while when I was 13, but I only got into it when the bistro gigs started coming. Vocals there were no lessons. There were no lessons for guitar either. I had a mentor which was Tim. Sometimes I would go his house before a performance and we would jam and that really, really helped everything. Songwriting, guitar…I owe a lot of everything to him. I see him every once in a while. He’s from England and he’s obsessed with soccer. So he writes these folk albums about soccer! About the teams and everything! They’re really funny.

After finally escaping school it was time for a change of scene, including a brief visit to Blighty…

Che: I think I was in the UK for three days? I lived in Ireland for a little bit in Galway. It’s beautiful. It’s moody. I lived there for three months. It was an experience, something new. At that point I hated Vancouver. Everyone hates their home town at some point. I got random bar jobs and explored. That little city, Galway, is so moody in a really beautiful way. It reminded me of Vancouver, it was grey and rainy all the time, but the buildings are really old and they have these lovely swans. Thousands of swans that just hang out in this beautiful inlet. It’s like this stark white against this grey backdrop. I was there for three months. Then I came back home and that’s when I started writing a lot of music.

Che’s mum then signed her up for the Canadian equivalent of “Pop Idol” and she made it as far as going to LA to write songs with the team behind Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry hits. She found she really didn’t fit that mould and returned to Vancouver to concentrate on her own path…

Che: It killed me ’cause at that point I had been writing my own stuff for a while. It was so typical and I have a really hard time lying to myself and doing things for the sake of notoriety. I do things because they make me feel good, not because I want to get something out of it. I owe a lot to that experience for teaching me exactly what I don’t want and I’m not really capable of as a person.

Then I learned to record stuff on my own. I had a great friend who was a really good producer out here and taught me a lot about Pro Tools and all of that. I pretty much holed up in my own place and wrote and recorded demos. Through that experience I met this guy Colin, who was one of the agents in Feldman (Agency, entertainment management company). They have Elvis Costello and people like that. He (Colin) totally saw where I was coming from. He didn’t want me to be anyone but who I was, which was really nice. So he put me together with a producer and a studio and at that point I had about ten grand in savings, which is a really funny story (to be told later!) So I funded it all myself. I was young so didn’t quite know what my sound was. I knew what I didn’t want it to be, but I didn’t know what it was specifically. I didn’t know how to tell people like producers what I was looking for.

I was maybe 23. I wasn’t shy anymore, but I still had a hard time telling people “I don’t like this.” I would just try to get along, which is not great when you’re trying to put across a point of view of music. I know that now, but back then I was very much being polite and a “Yes Man”, which led to an album that I personally don’t really like. This was “Underachiever” (2009). I wrote the songs and liked the songs, but I was young and I didn’t really know what I was doing so the product was something I’m personally not happy with. Some of the songs are great, some not so much. It’s not really my style, but it was a great learning experience.

After this, she made a connection that would be a life-changer…

Che: When I met Devin Townsend he was making “Ki” (album, 2009) . I met him through my friend Dave Young, who’s in Devin Townsend Project. Devin was looking for a calming voice or something and Dave was like, “Ah! I know Che!” It was really funny, he (Devin) took a complete chance on me. We’d never met and I don’t even know if he’d actually heard my voice. I’m not sure, but he might just have taken Dave at his word. He picked me up then we drove to Dave’s house and he had all these tracks set up. He was like, “Just feel it out and try to do this. Just see where it goes.” I thought, “Cool! He seems like an awesome dude!” It took about two hours, a really short amount of time. I had no idea he had this huge following or was so amazing! No idea. I was just doing it ’cause I like to sing, I had nothing else to do and I was like “Sure!” Then I left and we kind of kept in touch, but we didn’t really know each other. Just like, “How are you doing? I’m great!”

In 2013 she was getting her own project together at Andrew Loog Oldham’s studio when the phone rang…

…Find out what happened next in Part Two of our exclusive interview where Che discusses working on the The Rolling Stones covers album with Andrew Oldham, adventures with Casualties of Cool, the influence of Nick Drake and her immediate future.

~
Che’s EP, “Volume 1”, is out now – check out our review here – and she is online at cheaimeedorval.com. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter as @cheaimee.

Casualties of Cool can be found online here: casualtiesofcool.com. They can also be liked on Facebook.

Che will be special guest on Australian singer-songwriter Kim Churchill‘s UK tour in March. Tickets are available here and the dates are:

Mar 2 Mon Borderline, London
Mar 3 Tue Exchange, Bristol
Mar 4 Wed The Barrel House, Totnes
Mar 5 Thu Koola Bar, Newquay
Mar 6 Fri The Bullingdon, Oxford
Mar 7 Sat Drygate, Glasgow
Mar 8 Sun Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh
Mar 9 Mon Cluny 2, Newcastle
Mar 10 Tue The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Mar 11 Wed Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham,
Mar 12 Thu The Boileroom, Guildford
Mar 13 Fri The Forum, Tunbridge Wells
All words by Nick Holmes. More writing by Nick on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Nick tweets as @oldenick666. - Louderthanwar.com


(In this post our man in the UK, Andy Synn, reviews a live September 4 performance in Islington by the collaboration between Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval known as Casualties of Cool.)

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to see Casualties of Cool, the world’s finest proponents of Ambient Canadian Space-Country, perform a gorgeous, mesmerising set at The Union Chapel in Islington. And it’s taken me a while (I have been somewhat busy/ill in the intervening time) but I’ve finally got round to penning some thoughts about the experience.

To start with, for those of you who don’t know, the venue itself is pretty magical, a beautifully apportioned and enclosed chapel with rows of pews on ground level before the stage (and pulpit) and several more on balconies up above. The stained glass windows and hanging wrought-iron chandeliers add a touch of weight and worth to the surroundings, while the candles flickering in alcoves in each overhang only enhance the warmth and beauty of the place.

When it came to the show itself… well, there’s a reason this was sold under the title Casualties of Cool, and not under Devin’s own name. Because for once this really wasn’t a Devin Townsend show.





Even apart from some inadvertently hilarious technical issues right as the band were about to come onstage, the whole feel of things was very different from what you might have expected from a Devin Townsend show (barring maybe the similarly entrancing show for Ghost held in this same venue some years back).

Though Devin himself was as warm and as welcoming as always, ultimately he opted (after some friendly cajoling) to let the music do the talking this time around, operating more as lead guitarist/co-vocalist than the de-facto frontman we might be used to, and allowing his collaborators, particularly the wonderful Ms. Ché Aimee Dorval (with whom I’m now ever so slightly in love), to occupy their own share of the limelight.







Ché’s interactions with Devin were themselves a highlight of the evening. Whether she was softly admonishing him about talking too much and telling him he was only allowed to say thank you “three times”, or exchanging simple smiles during the quietest moments of the set, it was obvious that this was a collaboration and a friendship that brought great joy to both of them.

Her voice was, in many ways, the real star of the show. Soulful and captivating… at times wistful and ethereal, at others overflowing with raw emotion… she brought the audience to the brink of tears and the edge of rapture time and time again, whether during the sublimely beautiful “Flight” or the melancholy strains of “Bones” – two of the night’s high points in an evening brimming with memorable moments.







Indeed, the whole set was particularly memorable not simply because of the elegant grace of the performances, but because each of the songs from Casualties of Cool was changed and reinterpreted for the evening’s performance. It wasn’t just a repeat of the album, it was a reworking and a remaking of it, done purely for the live setting. And that made it very special indeed.

Songs were performed slightly slower, or faster… given extended intros or drawn out jam segments… sung lower, or higher… just ever so slightly differently than on record, giving the whole thing a much more improvised and unique flavour quite unlike the regimented tightness of Devin’s more metallic live offerings.

Despite the fact that the show must have been well-rehearsed beforehand, such were the many layers of ambience and atmosphere added and woven into each song, the whole set still retained a feeling of freedom and spontaneity that meant the audience felt they were witnessing an event, something that, even when seen again, would never be seen in quite the same way.

Utterly mesmerizing, sublimely moving, and almost magical, this was a very special, very unique night, not just for me, but for everyone lucky enough to be in attendance. - nocleansinging.com


Che Aimee Dorval came to attention last year as Devin Townsend’s main collaborator on his Casualties of Cool “space-country” project. Now she has released a new EP of her own work and will be taking it on tour across the UK next month. Following on from his in-depth interview with her on Louder Than War (with part one of it here and part two here) Nick Holmes now reviews this new release.

If music is therapy then Canadian singer-songwriter Che Aimee Dorval has taken that idea and run with it. This collection of six songs is by turn confessional, funny, candid and “thinking out loud”. At the risk of jumping to conclusions, it is fair to assume that at least some of the sentiments in her lyrics come from personal experience, which makes for a warm and intimate listen.

Opener “Do You Ever?” begins with sounds of people socialising in a bar or similar place. The words describe feeling awkward and shy, while the slowly building melody then hits a soaring chorus where Dorval shows the first glimpse of the power she has in her voice. “Do you ever go a little too far? Do you ever fight to escape who are?” she cries. The rhymes come across almost like questions an amateur shrink might ask in a self-analysis session.

The introspective mood lifts on lullaby-like “We Go” with its delicate rolling sound, strings, and multi-layered vocals. The more positive lines seem to ponder a settling down and maybe having children. Then “Losing My Sleep” swings back to less upbeat introspection. A thoughtful plodding rhythm with echoey guitar effects could be the soundtrack to wandering home in the rain after heavy night on the lash, where the hangover kicks in before you’ve even made it to bed. “Am I wasting? …degrading?” sings Che, before confessing “I need pushing to go do!” It comes across as a self-aware ode to procrastination.



“Back Again” combats the gloom with its jaunty tune, but the lyrics once again look inward, being self-aware and in this case sarcastic. Apparently about holding back from a suitor Che sings one day there “maybe some follow through by then. We could do a month a year … don’t hold your breath!” She also moots she might “flirt with all your friends” before going home on her “walk of shame to my lonely bed.” It’s kind of cruel but then who ends up really hurt by such behaviour? “The Throws” darkens the atmosphere further with its eerie melody. It smacks of looking in the mirror the morning after the night before, pointing out the “reckless choice made in the throws of your mistakes,” and “…can’t keep up with all the lies you’re telling.”

The final track, “Lights Out”, was the first song Che ever wrote at the age of 16. In a similar way to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, also written at an almost precociously young age with hindsight, the lyrics contain feelings that many listeners of all ages will be able to relate to. It completes the cycle on this mini-album concisely with her 16-year-old self saying she would prefer “if you wanna talk slide a note under door” and self-critically admits “I’m not who I was meant to be … make believe is all I do.” This is tempered with some warm maternal advice, “Never repress yourself because you’re scared, Momma said”.

The EP was recorded at Andrew Loog Oldham’s studio’s in Che’s home city of Vancouver. She worked with him on “The Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2” and he offered a contract to record her own project using his facilities. This means the record has noticeably high production values with intricate arrangements, strings parts and an overall polished sound. However this does not detract from Che’s rich, warm and highly expressive voice. She has said one of her musical heroes is British folk singer Nick Drake and she has certainly captured a similar spirit of raw emotional honesty set to disarmingly sweet sounds.

In summary “Volume 1” is blunt, bittersweet and rather beautiful.

~
Che is online at cheaimeedorval.com. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter as @cheaimee.

Che will be special guest on the Kim Churchill UK tour in March. Tickets are available here and the dates are:

Mar 2 Mon Borderline, London
Mar 3 Tue Exchange, Bristol
Mar 4 Wed The Barrel House, Totnes
Mar 5 Thu Koola Bar, Newquay
Mar 6 Fri The Bullingdon, Oxford
Mar 7 Sat Drygate, Glasgow
Mar 8 Sun Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh
Mar 9 Mon Cluny 2, Newcastle
Mar 10 Tue The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Mar 11 Wed Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham,
Mar 12 Thu The Boileroom, Guildford
Mar 13 Fri The Forum, Tunbridge Wells
All words by Nick Holmes. More writing by Nick on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Nick tweets as @oldenick666. - Louderthanwar.com


10: Swans – To Be Kind

To Be KindI’m very new to the genre of post-rock. While I’ve listened to related genres on occasions, my first experience with it came earlier this year when I listened to Swans’ 2012 release The Seer. That album just floored me, and I would recommend it to anybody looking for something different.

I’m not quite as amazed by their follow-up, To Be Kind, but perhaps that’s just because the element of surprise is gone. But one thing that is clear to me is that To Be Kind is a fantastically atmospheric release. Although it’s far from an easy listen (I have to admit, I’ve only listened to it 3 times since it’s May release) it is very rewarding to those who are able get through over two hours of experimental, repetitive post-rock.


9: Devin Townsend Project – Z²: Dark Matters

Z2 Dark MattersAs much as I loved it upon release, I have to admit, now that the hype has died down, Devin Townsend’s Dark Matters isn’t quite as good as I initially thought. It certainly isn’t better than the original Ziltoid the Omniscient, as I had claimed. Relistening to that album recently reminded me of just how fantastic it truly is.

Even with that said, Dark Matters is a fantastic release. The radio-show framing gives it a lot of room for comedy, while performers like Dominique Lenore Persi add a lot to the album musically. Tracks like “Z²,” “War Princess,” and “Deathray” are all fantastic, but special mention has to be given to “March of the Poozers” which stands out, not only as the best track on the album, but one of the best metal tracks Devin’s ever released.

8: Ché Aimee Dorval – Volume 1

Volume 1Ché Aimee Dorval is by far the most underrated vocalist in music right now. Her EP Volume 1 didn’t exactly make a big dent when it was released, in fact I only found out about it two months later, but it’s the biggest hidden treasure of 2014.

From the opening track, “Do You Ever,” Ché sells herself to me immediately. The vocals are beautiful yet distinct and the music itself is fantastic. “Losing My Sleep” is another highlight, with personal lyrics and a fantastic melody. The instrumentation on these songs may consist of some simple, stripped-back acoustic guitar, but Ché doesn’t need any more than that and her voice to create some of the most powerful music of the year. I highly recommend this one, it deserves a lot more attention.

7: That Handsome Devil – Drugs & Guns for Everyone

Drugs And Guns For EveryoneIt’s hard to describe just what That Handsome Devil are to those unfamiliar with their work. The band’s fusion of funky, alternative hip hop and rock, alongside a slew of other genres, is unlike any other band around right now.

The best way to understand them is simply to listen to their music, and while Drugs & Guns for Everyone doesn’t quite top their previous work, it isn’t a bad place to start. The album contains everything you’d expect from the band at this point, Godforbid’s sleazy vocals, bizarre yet successful fusions of genres and peppy, upbeat music accompanying depressing vocals, all packaged up in a concept album , well, drugs and guns. There’s no accurate way to describe this album, but take my word on it, it deserves a listen.

6: Periphery – Clear

ClearPeriphery have improved tenfold with every release so far. Periphery II: This Time it’s Personal was miles better than their debut, and the mini album Clear is miles better than that. While it may be short, its packed with the best the group have to offer. Tracks like “The Parade of Ashes” and “Feed the Ground” are easily the band’s crowning moments thus far.

There’s honestly not much to say about Clear, it’s just simple good metal. There’s nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking about the tracks here, but they are all fantastic, catchy and memorable. Given how much the band have improved with each release, I’m insanely excited for their upcoming double album Juggernaut: Alpha and Omega, due to be released in January.

5: Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun

Once More 'Round The SunMastodon are one of the biggest modern metal bands around, and it’s records like this that show why. While not as heavy as their early work, Once More ‘Round the Sun takes the mainstream radio-metal sound found on the band’s last album, The Hunter, and fuses it with more psychedelic elements to take it to the next level.

I get why some older fans don’t like the direction Mastodon have taken, I really do. Albums like Remission and Leviathan are modern classics and while there are many other bands creating music in that style, nobody is close to topping those albums. That said, even if it’s poppier, you can’t deny just how fun and catchy tracks like “The Motherload” are. Once More ‘Round the Sun successfully manages to fuse Mastodon’s love for big riffs and catchy hooks with their more experimental side, and it’s a fusion that works.

4: Devin Townsend Project – Z²: Sky Blue

Z2 Sky BlueWhile my love for Dark Matters has diminished over time, its companion album Sky Blue gets better with every listen. On it Devin Townsend mixes the choirs and theatrics of Epicloud with the more melancholic and personal nature of albums like Terria and Casualties of Cool. What this leaves us with is a beautiful, emotional album which manages to both be among Devin’s softest work and his most powerful.

The title track is an obvious stand-out, being one of the best examples of pure pop that Devin has ever put on record. “Fallout” and “Universal Flame” are other tracks that deserve mention. But if I were to pick one song that sums up the entire album, it would be the penultimate number, “Before We Die.” Layered, powerful and emotional; it sums up everything great about Sky Blue.

3: Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter

.5 The Gray ChapterSlipknot returned to the forefront in 2014 and immediately reminded the world just why they’re one of the biggest names in metal. It had been six years since their last album, the somewhat disappointing All Hope is Gone, and in that time they lost two key songwriters, so they had a lot to prove.

Listening to The Gray Chapter you can tell that they know this. From the ferocious boasting of “Sarcastrophe” to the emotional climax that is “If Rain is What You Want,” this album just screams passion and energy. Special note must be made to the rhythm section. All Hope is Gone was a bit too light on the heavy, primal beats that characterise Slipknot’s music, but on this album it may be the best it’s ever been. This is partly down to the percussion work of Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn of course, but new drummer Jay Weinberg really proves himself on this record. Overall .5: The Gray Chapter is a fantastic album and a perfect summation of just what Slipknot are about.

2: Casualties of Cool – Casualties of Cool

Casualties Of CoolWith the talent involved, it’s no big surprise that Casualties of Cool makes it onto this list. The album is a collaborative project from Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval, giving each of these artists multiple spots on my year-end list. Adding to that is some uncharacteristically subdued drumming from Morgan Ågren, and brilliant saxophone work from Shining frontman Jørgen Munkeby.

Casualties of Cool sees Devin Townsend exploring a new genre once again in his already very varied career, this time tackling country music. Of course, it has the usual Devin Twist, taking elements from ambient music and progressive rock to create a uniquely spacey sound. Ché’s vocals are a perfect fit for this sound, creating something haunting and beautiful. I can only hope that these two work together again in the future.

1: Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Transgender Dysphoria BluesIt’s my belief that the best way to make good music is to make it personal. The best albums come when artists are truly passionate about what they’re saying. It’s rare that you find an album as personal as Transgender Dysphoria Blues. The album obviously draws a lot from frontwoman Laura Jane Grace’s experiences as a transgendered woman. Songs like the title track and closer “Black me Out” are among the most personal and powerful I’ve ever heard.

With lyrics like “You want them to see you like they see every other girl/They just see a faggot/They hold their breath not to catch the sick,” and “You’ve got no cunt in your strut/You’ve got no hips to shake” in the first track alone, it’s hardly subtle, but it has no desire to be. Grace is singing frankly about her experiences and has no desire to hold back at all. What we’re left with is an album that covers more emotions than some artists do in their entire careers, anger, frustration and sadness being the most prominent. But there’s also a sense that the recording of this album was very cathartic for Grace. At any rate, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is one of the rawest albums I’ve ever heard lyrically speaking, and is a must listen for any fans of punk and alternative music. - Dumbmusictalk.com


What do you think of when you hear music? joy? sadness? or do you simply let the tones wash over you, transporting you away from the daily grind to a place where nothing matters, work takes a back seat and just lets you….be....for a short time before you come crashing back down to earth, well, this is exactly how I felt after I saw 3 heavenly acts perform at The Barrel House in Totnes on a cold Wednesday evening in March.

It was a triple header, opening up was a Truro based young lady called Abbie Piper (no relation to Billie), then onto a Vancouver based chanteuse called Che Aimee Dorval prior to the headline act, Australian born and bred one man musical powerhouse, Kim Churchill.

Abbie Piper took to the stage first, cutting her teeth on the scene alongside a 13 piece R&B band, she now plays on her own and has made something of a name for herself after being invited by Hub Radio & Source FM to play live in their studios. Opening up a show is always a tall order, I will add that the constant chattering of the crowd wouldn’t have done anything for her confidence but being the true professional that she is, she soldiered on, keen to sing her songs in her unique style accompanied by her beautiful, soulful voice.





She played many of her own penned tracks such as ‘Waterside’ and ‘Beyond Reason’ and threw in a couple of cover versions including Ed Sheeran’s ‘Make it Rain’ (if you’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy, you’ll know the track well) and also an ice cool version of Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggety’ which sounded sublime.





Abbie Piper is a name to watch, she’ll soon be the toast of Truro and everyone will be wanting a piece of her, check out a great track of hers called ‘Beyond Reason’.







After a short break, Che Aimee Dorval took to the stage to grace the audience with her take on alternative folk music. She spent a couple of minutes talking about dancing with 7 year old boys, I’m sure she was referring to when she was also 7 years old as the thought of a grown woman standing around at a party, waiting for a willing 7 year old boy to dance is clearly wrong….

She opened up her set with ‘The Dinosaur Song’, her powerful voice was fighting for dominance in a room of people who were clearly happy to part with £10 on the door and then stand around shouting at each other! (I might have mentioned this when I was talking about Abbie, it is one of my PET HATES and I wish that people would have the decency to shut up for 25 minutes and LISTEN….)





Her songs ranged from upbeat to heart wrenching ballads that pulled at the heartstrings, her influences ranging from Cat Power, Nick Drake and Nick Cave clearly coming through in her songs. Her music would have been perfect in a quiet smoky club, the noise of the bartender in the background and her soulful tones resonating around the room, I’d love to have heard her properly rather than having to put up with some local ladies gabbering on in my ear about the traffic problems that Totnes are currently facing….





Che played some amazing songs including ‘Under Achiever’ and her final track of her set ‘Lights Out’ which was played with such emotion, absolutely beautiful stuff.

Why not grab yourself a drink, sit back and check out her 6 track ‘Volume One’ EP below, you’ll be so glad you did…







I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Churchill in Perranporth in the summer of 2014, he was playing at a pub on the beach called The Watering Hole, sadly, we were unable to stick around as the kids were getting cranky after a long day on the beach. He handed me a flyer and I saw that a few days after the Perranport show, he was due to play n Exeter, I said that I’d see him there and see him there I did!


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Kim is quite possibly THE most unique musician that I have ever had the privilege of seeing play live, he is a music chameleon who never ceases to amaze his audiences all over the world. The show is not only about some incredible music, he is also a feast for the eyes, don’t get me wrong, he’s a strapping, young, handsome man with sun bleached locks that the young ladies go crazy for, I was referring more to his stage setup. He plays seated, percussion instruments to his right, a tambourine attached to a kick pedal and a large bass drum with a couple of kick pedals attached to that, a harmonica sits around his neck and over his shoulder sits his guitar. I’d like to see Kim kitted out as a true ‘one man band’ with the bass drum on his back and bells at the bottom of his trousers, come to think of it, he probably wouldn’t be able to play as well as he does so let’s just leave him as he is!





Kim played a blend of his own penned tracks, interspersed with a few choice cover versions including a great version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Californication’ and a wildly addictive version of Bob Dylan’s classic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ which Kim transformed into a true stomping masterpiece that left the local crowd screaming for more.

Kim is a profound storyteller and each of his tracks had a detailed story behind it. He told us of the time that he and his family travelled across Australia to attend the funeral of his late Grandfather and after the event, he felt short changed, how this great man’s life could possibly be celebrated by one day where the family got together and mourned was beyond belief, so he decided to pen a track in his honour and ‘Smile as he Goes Home’ was crafted. He played the track and you could see how much the song meant to Kim, pure emotion emanating from his soul, singing the truth about how much his granddad meant to him and how much he had influenced him during his life.





‘Window to the Sky’ was a real crowd pleaser and featured some amazing harmonica that sounded JUST like a large brass section at the end, okay, it was never going to replace a large brass section but as Kim alluded to, he was getting tired of asking old jazz hounds to come to his shows with their brassware to squeeze out what equated to 3 notes, played for about 30 seconds at the end of the track!

He told us a story of when he was posted on a French Polynesian island to ‘entertain the locals’, everything he could have wanted was available to him and despite all of this, he was suffering under a black cloud. One day, a local chap offered to take him out to a reef where they did some of the best surfing that Kim had ever encountered and it was at this stage, he decided that life wasn’t that bad after all, he penned a track called ‘Bathed in Black’ which he proceeded to play, it’s twisted music wrapped around Kim’s moaning vocals prior to the slightly distorted guitar kicking in was a great way to banish the blues.





Another story Kim told was about when his grandmother was in a hospice in Australia in her latter days and there was a guy called George who fell head over heels in love with her and, with agreement from Kim’s father, was given permission to sit with her when they weren’t visiting. It was later that Kim found out that George had actually spent every hour of every day sat with her in their absence, this touched Kim and he wanted to write a song that would not only bring back the memory of his grandmother but also, look at things from the perspective of George and what he was feeling in her final days. The song was beautiful, sung from the heart with real meaning, utterly spellbinding stuff.

Kim ended his set with an utterly bewildering version of Bob Dylan’s timeless classic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ which, after Kim had added his slant on the track, brought it from it’s original state into the 21st century, a real heavy stomper of a track complete with some gritty guitar effects and great harmonica. Kim thanked the crowd for coming to see him and reminded people that there were CD’s available at the merch table prior to leaving the stage and taking up his position at the merch table to sign autographs and chat to anyone that wanted to say Hi.

As I said earlier, I don’t think I have ever come across a musician as varied and as talented as Kim Churchill, if you EVER get the chance to go se him live, be it at a show or a festival, please do so, you are in for a treat and he’s the kind of guy that you’ll find yourself telling all your friends to go check out after you have had the chance to experience him playing live.

Kim is on a UK tour until March 13th, for details on dates and venues, please check his website - musicmuso.com


Discography

Volume One (2015 EP) - Produced by David Meszaros 

Underachiever (2009 debut album) - Produced by Mike Rogerson 

Lights out (2005 EP) - produced by Ryan Hauschild

Photos

Bio

A vein of hard-won wisdom runs through the music of Che Aimee Dorval, giving her work an uncommon depth and passion. There’s an unflinching honesty to her songwriting that can be entrancing, disturbing and liberating – sometime simultaneously. Framing her words with swirling, evocative melodies, Che beckons listeners in and holds them close. Drawing upon her own experiences, she offers the hope of renewal and freedom in her songs.

As part of Casualties of Cool (her collaboration with the renowned Devin Townsend), Che has earned a growing international following. In December 2017, she will resume her solo career with Between the Walls and the Window, a haunting, finely-wrought album that features her most revealing songs to date.

Che’s latest work wraps her evocative vocals in distorted guitars and churning rhythms, bringing out the raw immediacy of her lyrics. “The new album marks a moment in my life where I know who I am both personally and musically,” she says. “Lyrics are important to me and I’ve found that instead of only talking about lost love and feelings of helplessness, I’ve started to comment on social issues that are important to me. These songs have something to say.”

Hard work, self-reflection and undeniable talent have helped Che to find her artistic voice. Growing up in Vancouver, BC, she took inspiration from artists as diverse as Nick Drake, Cocteau Twins, Alanis Morissette and Cat Power. She honed her skills played local club dates and busked around Europe before winning David Foster’s British Columbia Star Search competition in 2007. This led to an appearance at Foster’s yearly charity gala and the chance to write and record in L.A. with hitmakers Greg Wells (Rufus Wainright, Katy Perry) and Kara DioGuardi (Pink, Kelly Clarkson).

Rather than go the mainstream pop route, Che returned to Canada and released her first solo effort, Underachiever (2008). A short Eastern Canadian tour led to her settling in Toronto, where she became part of the local arts scene. Refreshed, she returned to her native Vancouver and caught the attention of legendary Rolling Stones producer/manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who offered her a contract and asked her to sing on his Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2 album. 

By this time, Che had recorded with Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, DTP Project) for his album Ki, laying the groundwork for their teaming up as Casualties of Cool. “We stayed in touch and eventually he asked me to write a late-night dark country record with him,” she recalls. “It was the most positive recording experience I ever had and it inspired me to start writing my own songs again.”

Casualties of Cool released their eponymous debut album in 2014, followed up by a highly successful UK tour that included a performance at London’s Union Chapel. In its review of the concert, Metal Hammer wrote that “Che was born with the ability to melt hearts with a single syllable.” Che and Devin reassembled two years later for an appearance at Ramblin’ Man Fair in Kent and a music video/interview for the YouTube series Dunlap Sessions.

Working with Devin inspired Che to relaunch her solo career. She supported the 2015 release of her EP Volume One with a 12-date UK tour opening for folk artist Kim Churchill. It proved to be a demanding but ultimately rewarding experience: “I had never gone through something like that before…I was completely alone and was insecure about playing my own songs. But I find that the most jarring experiences are the best chances to grow and learn. That tour made me stronger and more confident about what I can do.”

This confidence carried into the writing and recording of Between the Walls and the Window, her second full-length project. As producer, Che tapped studio veteran Shawn F. Cole (Yukon Blonde, You Say Party! We Say Die!, The Painted Birds), known for his feel for biting pop/rock textures and moody atmospherics. On these sessions, Che’s sensitive, insinuating guitar touch is augmented by such A-list players as longtime Neko Case guitarist Paul Rigby, bassist Darren Parris and drummer Daniel Ruiz. The result is a shifting, multi-layered sound that brings out the full scope and impact of Che’s compositions.

Meanwhile, Che has been co-writing with in-demand producer Bob Rock (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Tragically Hip, Michael Buble) on songs for an as-yet unnamed project. Like Casualties of Cool and her solo work, her music with Rock promises to be bold, edgy and artfully done.

The unfolding career of Che Aimee Dorval has been a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, she’s collaborated with a formidable list of major talents and found her own identity as an artist. With the release of her new album this December, Che has made good on her early promise in ways even she couldn’t have expected.

Band Members