Dinah Thorpe
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Dinah Thorpe

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2008

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Established on Jan, 2008
Duo Alternative Folk

Calendar

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May
16
Dinah Thorpe @ Casa Del Popolo

Montreal, Quebec, CAN

Montreal, Quebec, CAN

Apr
23
Dinah Thorpe @ Supermarket

Toronto, Ontario, CAN

Toronto, Ontario, CAN

Apr
12
Dinah Thorpe @ The Garrison

Toronto, Ontario, CAN

Toronto, Ontario, CAN

Music

Press


To say that Toronto indie chanteuse Dinah Thorpe defies easy categorization is to misunderstand the word "easy". Listening to 12, Thorpe's provocative and supremely artful new album officially arriving stateside next week, everything -- and we mean everything -- seems to come rather easy, actually, to this chameleon-like songwriter and instrumentalist. It's just that any concept of genre barrier means nothing. Country? Pop? Moody cabaret? Folk? Jazz? It's all up for grabs in this remarkable production. Thorpe has drawn comparisons to Laurie Anderson -- for her smart, theatrical spoken-word tracks set to an electro-beat pulse (see: "Weird", a "song" unlike any you'll hear this or any year). Also, Beth Orton, for the droll, simply laid out alto vocals and spare folk-tronica structures behind songs such as "Every Bit Hurts" and "In The Country". In the end, however, comparisons come down to just so much drivel when searching for the right words to define or describe an artist -- and we do mean artist -- like Thorpe and her 12 fascinating songs. Peel back the layers, dig below the surface -- and then...just keep peeling and digging. That's half the fun. See what we mean when you tackle "Dolly Parton" -- a brilliant bit o' surreal alt-pop that takes a banjo-backed ditty and turns it into the oddest, most understated blues boogie imaginable. - Direct Current


As a big fan of folk music, electronica, and subsequently musicians that can do both, I was pleased as punch to be introduced to the auditory offerings of Toronto's Dinah Thorpe. She's a multi-instrumental artist that somehow successfully and separately represents the seemingly contradicting sub-genres in the electro-folk-pop category.

With a sound comparable (yet still unique to) Natalie Merchant, Feist & Olga Bell, Thorpe's soft but sturdy alto speaks to listeners like a casual conversation.

Her lyrics possess a satirically relevant story-telling quality, that make you just kind of want to be her friend. She sings about what she knows: the middle class, being overworked and the musicians that have influenced her. All while connecting her content to melodic hooks and hypnotic beats.

Her new album 12 comes out on December 4, but you can listen to three tracks and preorder here. Her single (free DL!) "Song for Dolly," was stuck in my head all day. That is until the track "Settling Back In" replaced it.

"Song for Dolly" isn't only catchy, but it pays homage to queen of country Dolly Parton & blues legend Robert Johnson. Thorpe tells the tale of working hard to get where you want to go and how much easier it might be to make a deal with the devil -- referencing the crossroads where Johnson supposedly sold his soul in exchange for guitar playing abilities & fame. A dark theme is made pleasantly infectious with Thorpe's carefree tone, ukelele chords and whistling (a la Andrew Bird).

I'm such a big fan of artists who can create a unique sound while still remaining relatable. And Dinah Thorpe is unique, relatable...and therefore an impressing conundrum.

So please familiarize yourself with her, because it sounds like this talent will be around for awhile. - looks that rock


Wow...Dinah Thorpe is in a word...incredible. This young lady has one of those voices so fantastic that it wouldn't matter what she's singing...because her voice alone is enough to carry her way through any tune. But the voice is really only part of the equation here. In addition to having one of best voices we've heard in the twenty-first century, Ms. Thorpe is also a songwriter of the highest calibre. The tunes on 12 sound something like a peculiar cross between Laurie Anderson and Azure Ray...without ever sounding too much like either. The more we spin this album the harder it becomes to try to describe what's going on here. Dinah incorporates ideas from the past and present...from different genres...into her own slightly perplexing unique universe. And the results are warm, genuine, and intriguing. As if the music weren't enough, the cover is outstanding...made to look like a foldout pinup calendar...with an absolutely killer photograph of Ms. Thorpe in the midst of washing her bicycle (!). This young artist has us completely under her spell. She's cool...she's magical...and she's unique. Killer cuts include "In The Country," "Song For Dolly," "G20," "Settling Back In," and "Tradesman." This will easily end up being one of the best albums of 2012 without a doubt... TOP PICK. - babysue.com


12 Review by Cindy Filipenko, Herizons, 2012
Toronto’s Dinah Thorpe is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and writer whose work defies definition. Seemingly endlessly creative, the smoky-voiced Thorpe takes her expanding oeuvre into the realms of jazz and country with the release of 12.
Favourably compared to Indigo Girls and Beth Orton, it’s fairer to say that Thorpe is her own woman. While there’s a certain folksiness to her vocals, her music is more sophisticated than that of Emily Saliers or Amy Ray. As for Beth Orton? There are some vocal similarities between the Brit and Thorpe, but that’s where it ends.
Originally conceived as a song cycle that featured a song per month, 12 took on a life of its own and the results are stunning. “Every Bit Hurts” buries the echo-chamber vocals under a thumping, oppressive bass line that acts to exacerbate the feeling of pain that comes with lost love. The song then crescendoes into a dance number that has Thorpe promising, “I’m getting over her.”
Never wimpy when it comes to speaking her mind, on “G20” Thorpe examines the police abuse that accompanied the G20 debacle in 2010.
The genre-hopping Thorpe never fails to delight on the 12 songs that comprise 12. The real surprises come in the form of a dirge-like remake of Chris Isaak’s painful “Wicked Game” and on “Weird,” which is weirdly reminiscent of early Laurie Anderson.
Well worth checking out. - Herizons


Since multi-instrumentalist folk musician Dinah Thorpe wrote one song per month over the course of a year for her sophomore album 12, the record's designer Jayme Spinks naturally felt a calendar would be the best way to represent the music in physical form.

Moreover, as an environmentally-conscious consumer of digital music, the Toronto-based musician and her visual collaborator felt they should give listeners something practical if they were going to fork over for the actual CD.

"To warrant printing something, it should be something that I want to look at or hold on to," says Spinks. "It was never an option of doing a jewel case. For that reason and for environmental reasons we tried to make the album design as sustainable and simple as possible. It doesn't come wrapped in plastic on purpose."
For the calendar image, Spinks was inspired by the vintage 1950s pin-up centerfolds typically found tacked to an auto mechanic's garage wall. Rather than a scantily-clad bikini shot, however, the duo imagined a sultry, tongue-in-cheek take on a Rosie the Riveter-type in overalls washing her bike, which was more evocative of Thorpe's style and preferred mode of transport.

Braving the chilly March weather, Spinks shot the photo in the back alley behind Thorpe's home near Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. "The bike has a political connotation and her music is fairly political. She's a storyteller," she says. "It suited her personality. She makes statements in her music so this was her politicizing herself and owning that." - MSN


Dinah Thorpe makes clever, political folk music . . . A talented storyteller and multi-instrumentalist with a sense of humour, Thorpe’s music is warm, accessible, inviting, and impressive. - POP Montréal


Dinah Thorpe strides into the café as though propelled by the blustery wind on the Toronto street. She cuts a striking figure: six feet tall with light brown curls on a young, angular face.

She takes the stairs two at a time and smiles, sitting down with her tea.

Thorpe is a Toronto musician who has just released her debut album, Truths and Other Stories. Featuring the multi-instrumentalist on ukulele, guitar and piano, the two-disc album is part acoustic offering and part danceable electronica. At times heartrending and real, in other moments twisted and funny, Thorpe’s clear voice is the thread that ties together a range of styles, bold opinions and engaging beats.

With an appreciation for traditional ideas of art and the old-fashioned concept of an album, Truths and Other Stories is rounded off with artwork by Toronto anarchist artist Mike Parsons to match the themes of urban life and alienation. The title pays homage to Thomas King’s lecture series, “The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative.”

“King speaks on what kinds of stories get told all the time,” she says, “and the kind of stories that need to be told. Similarly, I come to my work from a different place. My songs are about living in a city, being a dyke, how expensive it is to buy sperm, how I’m about to be hit by a car on my bike and how hard it is to create a sense of community, even when there’s two million people in this city. It’s about moving away from dominant narratives, colonial and post-colonial and what has been normalized, these things that come to be known as ‘truths’ and the kinds of stories that come to be known as ‘the other.’”

Thorpe’s songwriting is autobiographical. She lives with her partner and part-time with a step-daughter.

“Dykes have this amazing ability to build big beautiful families and rework the structure of their lives.” She laughs warmly. “Like for instance, my step-daughter has four moms.”

Naturally academic, Thorpe’s words become increasingly impassioned. She speaks about the Conservative government and popular conventions, but in her art this spills over into the storytelling of her songs, lending her a reputation as a political artist.

“It’s developed in a way that ‘being political’ is considered left. And being left is considered ‘being political.’ Driving a car and living a conventional life is certainly just as political. But it’s the queer spaces, the marginalized spaces… the spaces of opposition that are suddenly considered political because they oppose the norm.”

“Some people have the world view that matches the world around them,” she says, “and I think some fear that these crazy lesbian separatists are taking over the world. Like the opinions are the opposition and should be marked and watched closely.”

Thorpe laughs.

“So something political has come to occupy the space in my work, or at least that’s what it’s called. I do embrace that. But I put forth that everyone is political.”

Inevitably, Thorpe’s so-called politics affects the commercial aspect of her work, meaning mainstream radio-play and festivals may not feature prominently in her career. But the grounded, sexy voice and unapologetic representation of dyke life means she remains authentic — and loved.

“It really helps to never assume that your work will have commercial appeal. That assumption or acceptance allows for the freedom to create. I couldn’t create with the intention to write lyrics that would work for everyone. Sure, it would be nice to be commercially attractive because it would be nice to do this for a living, but… I think it’s more important to make art.”

“It’s not deliberate to live like this. To choose a life away from being image-driven. Nothing I do is image-driven. I just do what I actually like. If there is a deliberate choice, it’s to not censor myself.”

Thorpe leans back into her chair, her glass of tea emptied. With a mischievous, half-stern look in her eyes, she reminds me to listen closely to the album one more time.

“Are we done then?” She grins. We are.

With a nod and a grin, Thorpe’s jacket is on and she’s out the door. We may be done, but there’s the sense it’s only a brief reprieve.
the deets
Truths and Other Stories
Dinah Thorpe
$22, available through cdbaby.com
myspace.com/dinahthorpe
Tags: dinah thorpe, truths and other stories - Xtra


Toronto's Dinah Thorpe understands the line between fact and fiction. Her double disc Truths and Other Stories straddles this divide. Produced, mixed and mastered by the artist, Thorpe layers her ethereal vocals over club-worthy beats. (Imagine Dido if she were a dyke.) Academically minded, much of Thorpe's material dives into queer theory and gender politics. But she takes a fresh approach with "We Brought the Thunder," and "Milk the State Remix," bringing a splash of humour and a good dance beat. As a kid Dinah hated her name, but grew into it---"Someone's in the Kitchen," shows such evolution. "Strap Me In," toys with being provocative, though it's more about having a baby, rather than making babies.

Shannon Webb-Campbell - The Coast, Halifax




Dinah Thorpe is a new queer singer on the scene, and with her latest album, Truths and Other Stories, out this fall, it sounds like this chick is here to stay. With leathered beats from a seemingly seasoned pro (she's shared a stage with Buck 65, The Cliks, Eternia, and Melissa Ferrick) Dinah does vocals, and plays acoustic guitar, ukulele, keyboard, drums, while controlling MIDI and programming tunes (not at the same time). Truths and Other Stories is for reals and for truths an exercise in the enkindling of contentment. The double EP features one CD with deep lyrics and melodic beats that reminds of The Organ, or even a lighter Portishead but with more humour and more pop (does that make sense?). The other CD is the remixes, with a giggly rap about being 6 feet tall and playin' basketball (We Brought the Thunder), you're laughing and nodding to the music FOR PROMISE K? Kox & Kuntz took a second or two to ask this gentle lady about her faves, early career and BFFs.
How did you get started in music? Who were some of the influential people in your life that pushed you towards it: Nobody really ever pushed me towards music. But it has always surrounded me. My father has a beautiful singing voice and showed me the power of a good descant at a very early age. My sisters and I sang along with Motown 45s in the basement, sang in choirs, and sang Indigo Girls covers at high school coffee houses.
What artists or genres inspire you: Hard or soft, old or new, dirty or clean, what inspires me most is good and interesting songwriting - Joni Mitchell, Frazey Ford, Beethoven, K’NAAN, Dolly Parton, Pete Seeger, LAL, Final Fantasy, The Roots... A very close second for me in terms of inspiration is a good live show. I find that in this era of hyper-compression there is a widely held belief that as long as there is a wall of sound then it is necessarily good sound. Don’t get me wrong – I like loud music. But as live shows get louder and louder, whether or not the music itself is any good is becoming increasingly incidental. That is why it is so refreshing to happen upon good live music. Last weekend I went to a K’NAAN concert, where half the songs had me in tears and the other half had me dancing. He was the perfect combination of good musicianship, good politics, and good looks. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.
Best song to make out to: The best sounds to make out to are the sounds of making out. Failing that, two of the sexiest albums of all time in my books are Portishead’s Dummy and The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. In terms of romance, I would go with a Portugese fado or some slow southern blues.

What’s playing on the old iPod these days: I try not to listen to MP3s or MPEG4s or other lossy audio formats too much because I like my highs, high, and my lows, low. Having said that, I do very much enjoy my iPod when I am at the gym or out running, when I listen to a lot of rap and electronica– songs with beats to keep me moving. Lately I’ve been enjoying tracks by The Roots, Lady Sovereign, MC Lyte, K’NAAN, and Missy Elliott.
making out. Failing that, two of the sexiest albums of all time in my books are Portishead’s Dummy and The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. In terms of romance, I would go with a Portugese fado or some slow southern blues.
Best song to break up to: It’s a total cliché but it was on my jukebox growing up so I have to say “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” I don’t know about actually breaking up to it but as a sing-along it’s hard to beat.
Best song to have a cool lemon drink on a porch on a hot summer day to: “America” by K’NAAN or “Willow Tree” by Chad Vangaalen.

Last book you read: I am currently working my way through A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. As always with her work I am finding it difficult but satisfying. On Deck is an Emma Donoghue romance. On deck on deck is the Neil Young bio Shakey.

BFF: I am continually impressed by the true and deep friendship that I have with my partner, Zoë.
Best song for a union sing-along: “Election Song”
Best song for a brisk fall walk: “Working Title”

Next shows: Pride Follies and Dance, Peterborough Pride, 26 sept and in Toronto: oct 9, Bread & Circus - Indie Week Canada
- XTRA


<< Briefs: Monday, Dec 28 |
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
? MUSIC: Kox & Kuntz' Favritest albums of 2009 ?
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz! (Favrit track: “Soft Shock”)
Fever Ray, Fever Ray (Favrit track: “When I Grow Up”)
War Child Heroes, compilation of cover songs (Favrit track: “Heroes,” (David Bowie) covered by TV on the Radio)


? You Say Party! We Say Die! XXXX (Favrit tracks: TIE: "Laura Palmer's Prom" + “There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)”)


? Gossip, Music for Men (Favrit track: “Love Long Distance”)
The xx (Favrit track: YGTL (The xx remix) by Florence + The Machine)
Beirut, March of the Zapotec/Holland (Favrit track: TIE—“Concubine” and “Venice”)
Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster (Favrit track: “Bad Romance”)
Chad Van Gaalen, Soft Airplane (Favrit track: “Willow Tree”)
Dinah Thorpe, Truths and Other Stories (Favrit track: “We Brought the Thunder”
Kid Sister, Ultraviolet (Favrit: all)

? tUnE-YaRdS, BiRd-BrAiNs (Favrit: FIYA)


? Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (Favrit: all)
bonus favrits:

“Aqui Para Voces (Brodinski Remix),” Buraka Som Sistema + Deize Tigrona

“Girlfriend,” Phoenix
“Skinny Love,” Bon Iver
“Simultaneously,” MEN
“Party in the USA,” Miley Cyrus
“Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys

- Xtra


Truths and Other Stories
Dinah Thorpe
Independent

Dinah Thorpe’s Debut full-length CD is actually a neatly bisected two-disc set called Truths and Other Stories. Thorpe is a wicked multi-instrumentalist with a low, smoky alto. She is also a composer of infinite cleverness.
The first disc, Truths, is made up of 10 immensely danceable tracks that employ the deep house staples over some pretty politically right-on lyrics. In fact, a couple of the songs from the primarily acoustic second disc, Other Stories – “Tulip Tree” and “Milk the State” – are given the remix treatment, but on the whole Other Stories has a more organic feeling.
Truths and Other Stories demonstrates Thorpe’s excellence as a producer. She knows the rules and breaks them, taking risks that pay off time and time again. Even her use of techno-associated MIDI keyboards and digital enhancements on the folkier “Bike Lane Blues” and “Midi” work. Simply put, Thorpe is extremely talented.
Unafraid of quirky instrumentation like the ukulele and nontraditional percussion, Thorpe is in a class of her own writing lyrics than ponder a variety of social phenomena, from obsessive parenthood to subsidies on SUVs.
Thorpe’s music speaks to a millennial queer sensibility. It’s urban, it’s everyday and you can dance to it. Break out your grass skirt and lei – even the stuff on ukulele is pretty sweet. Buy this one now.
- Herizons


“Thorpe's whimsical songs, accompanied by gentle ukelele or guitar, are offset by her gorgeously deep and weary alto. Fans of the Indigo Girls or Portishead's Beth Gibbons will eat this lady up.”
- Alison Lang, The Coast

- The Coast, Halifax


Discography

Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls, released 2013 in Canada, 2014 in USA

12, released 2011 in Canada, 2012 in USA

Truths and Other Stories, 2009

Self-Titled EP, 2008

Photos

Bio

Maybe its a third child thing, but Dinah Thorpe has a hard time making a lot of noise about her accomplishments. She therefore has to rely on other people to do it for her. Thorpe has been called "one of the best voices we've heard in the twenty-first century," a singer with a "gorgeously deep and weary alto," a "wicked multi-instrumentalist," a "composer of infinite cleverness," "provocative and supremely artful," and "warm, accessible, inviting, and impressive." Thorpe calls herself a songwriter, musician, and producer, and she lives, gardens, bikes, and works in Toronto. 

Dinah Thorpe has become an increasingly commanding musical presence of late. Her previous song cycle, 12 (a 2012 JUNO nominee for album art), was showered with glowing reviews that applauded Thorpes uncompromising style, wry political aptitude, and ability to craft genre-melding pop that isnt afraid to be smart.12 also earned Dinah a nomination for an Independent Music Award in the Folk/Singer-Songwriter category. From the striking cover image to the remarkable music inside, all signs point to her new album making even bigger waves.

Thorpe initially envisioned Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls her third full-length - as a two-disc album, one spare and quiet, the other dense and loud. As the writing process developed, however, Thorpe found some songs resisting one category or the other, so the tracks were condensed into one disc that is an exercise in beautiful contradiction. Melody meets beats, acoustic meets electronic, sadness meets hope. As songwriter, performer, and producer, Thorpe plays multiple stylistic roles on the album as well from the vocalist whose stunning alto bathes the listener in tranquility, to the activist who uses her anti-establishment flow to dissect everything from traffic congestion to animal abuse. L&WUCs is equal parts grace, humour, and commentary.

Thorpes music as a whole resists simple genre definitions. The Toronto-based artist has been favorably compared to Laurie Anderson, Portishead, Natalie Merchant, Beth Orton, Grace Jones, Feist, and David Bowie among others. But Thorpe draws on a hugely diverse range of influences from folk to rap, trip hop to blues, orchestral to techno and distills them into a musical style that is unmistakably her own. If you ask her, Thorpe says: "Whatever it gets called, what I hope for my work is that it moves people - that it helps them through difficult days, or helps them enjoy fabulous days, or invites them to think or to dance. Or both."

Thorpe has honed her performance chops opening for Buck 65 in a boxing gym, playing at a public bath in Zrich, and sharing the stage with industry heavyweights like Kate & Anna McGarrigle, The Cliks, Eternia, and Melissa Ferrick. Her past festival appearances include POP Montral, Hillside, NXNE, Europride, In the Dead of Winter, Mayworks, and Ladyfest. Thorpes work has infiltrated television and art galleries alike, with "Election Song" featured on MTV's Sixteen and Pregnant, and new music commissioned for Evan Tapper's installation, Swoon. Thorpes song In the Country is featured on the soundtrack for the Diana Scheunemann film, Love American Skin.

Band Members