Piper & Carson
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Piper & Carson

Burlington, ON, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Burlington, ON, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Folk Americana

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"Building Community with Their Music"

We last learned of New York Born and Toronto raised folk-pop singer Piper Hayes’ journey to becoming Hamilton resident with the release of her 2016 EP Goodbye Mister Nice Guy. The the events of last year have been the catalyst for creating her newest collection of songs, and this time as a duo, alongside Carson Ritcey-Thorpe.

“I met Carson on his father Ted Thorpe’s organic farm in Millgrove,” recalls Hayes. “It was an October harvest festival with music all day long and amazing food. It was about building community, keeping sustainable farming processes alive and educating people about where their food comes from. It was three years ago, I had come to the farm to play some music and Carson was performing at the festival as well. I remember watching him play and thinking ‘oh, I need that’ - it’s not something I normally am thinking about when listening to another musician play. It was an immediate connection we had together and we started collaborating. We had our first show together with Harry White on bass three weeks later so this album is kind of a full circle of our lives together in the last three years and the things we’ve faced together over time.

“My mom passed this year so we’ve had a different kind of year than anyone expects to have,” adds Hayes. “That had a profound effect on both of our lives and we’ve leaned into each other in our grief. Part of this album is an honouring of my mom’s life and the life she set up for us to build together. Death is a part of all of our relationships and part of being human - it’s a painful process but it can also have a lot of beauty in it. We wanted to showcase songs that reflected that. My mom was my biggest champion and there was a lot of need to get this story out there - to be present in our lives - because death can have that effect on you - it reminds you of what is important. For us, it narrows down how we want to spend our energies and our lives. We want to build community with our music and while it might sound corny, we want to make a better world. There’s a song on the album called Dear 1% about where we spend our money. We can support local economy and create real community supporting one another.”

The lead single For All We Know embodies he seize-the-day mentality for the recording but it’s something that Hayes puts into her daily mindset and her activism. She takes music, and in conjunction with the Canadian Mental Health Association, goes to Hamilton area schools to dispel stigma around mental health with music based therapy classes. With a wealth of avenues for her music, this week the immediate focus is officially releasing the album that tells parts of the story of the last three years of life, love and learning that Hayes and Ritcey-Thorpe have experienced together on their Piper & Carson collaborative collection of tunes.

Recorded live off the floor in the living room of the century-old Ritcey-Thorpe family farmhouse, with Toronto’s Chris Bartos as producer and performer (upright bass, piano, electric and acoustic violin, electric guitar, moog, vocals) with Hayes (lead vocal, rhythm guitar), Carson Ritcey-Thorpe (vocal, lead guitar), Kevin Neal (peddle steel) and Leah Ritcey-Thorpe (back-up vocals), the new collaboration retains brains of Hayes’ core musical shades from her previous work but this time focuses on the roots and folk to let the songs shine in all their rustic glory. For the live CD release party this Thursday, Piper and Carson will be joined by Bill Simms on upright bass and Sam DeRosa on harmonica.

“We’re excited to be playing this release show and we’re hoping for a real party,” says Hayes. “I tend to bring a lot of energy when I perform so I like having people feeling comfortable to express themselves in whatever way they want to experience the music so if that’s dancing or whatever it is, everyone is welcome to come and feel the music the way they are moved. We can’t wait to showcase this music - we’re really proud of what we’ve created.” - VIEW Hamilton


"Piper Hayes on Etalk"

Etalk November 17th, 2016 - Piper Hayes - Etalk


"Interview: Piper Hayes, "Piper & Carson""

With her gorgeous new album (out 8 December), “Piper & Carson,” Piper Hayes has created a soundscape not only of her life (depicted as a day, start to finish) but also a statement about how we can and should live in the world, and make the world a much better place. In tandem with her partner Carson Ritcey-Thorpe, Piper has crafted a beautiful set of songs that pay tribute not only to a life well lived, but also to her late mother.

The album was recorded live off the floor at Thorpe’s Organic Produce farm in Millgrove, ON (near Hamilton) in the summer of 2017. It was captured in the living room of the century-old Ritcey-Thorpe family farmhouse, and has an absolutely lovely immediacy to the sound that enhances these songs even more.

The album starts off with the haunting “Wolf Song,” a call to respect the natural order (rather than trying to circumvent it). “For All We Know,” the first single released from the project, is a beautiful ode to the beginning of life (and the rare opportunity to live it fully), while “Dear 1%’ is a powerful call to action for all of us to live more authentically.



Other highlights from the album (although it’s really difficult to pick just a few!) include “Save Some For Yourself,” an inspiring call to reserve a bit of love for ourselves while we pour ourselves for others, and “Beneath the Waves,” a hauntingly reflective piece that showcases Piper and Carson’s musical partnership at its best. “I Don’t Wanna Go On” is an absolutely riveting (and, from my own experience, spot-on) description of grief at the loss of a parent, grief that does not necessarily ease with time but rather continues to burn from within.

This is a thoughtful, beautiful album whose treasures are unlocked not only on the first listen, but on repeated spins. I look forward to hearing more work from Piper (and Carson!).

We’re delighted that Piper took the time to talk about the album with us.

The album starts off with “Wolf Song,” a plea not only to decrease our dependence on meat (due to the economic and ecological cost of raising it) but also to allow the natural cycle of things to operate, rather than killing wolves who are only doing what comes naturally to them. Why this particular song and topic to lead off the project?

From the beginning ‘Wolf Song’ stood out as a powerful, topical and necessary song. A song that has already stirred people, myself included, into action. When I wrote it, I was nestled in the Sawtooth mountain range in Stanley, Idaho on a week-long songwriting retreat. I was inspired by the breathtaking wild landscape surrounding me.

The first time I played the song live I was excited to invite everyone to howl along. It quickly became apparent that people don’t need to be asked twice to howl, and I can’t think of a single audience that hasn’t howled along since. It’s inclusive also with the lyrics: ‘Stop the killing, stop the murder and stop the hate!’ For me, this is about more than wolves. It is about all the lives on this planet that have ended and continue to end because of needless greed and power of corporate and colonial structure.

We live in a time when many must fight to stay alive and it is our responsibility to change this. We have forgotten the power of unity, and this is what we can learn from the wolf. ‘Wolf Song’ allows listeners to transport themselves, immerse all their senses. I think we have much to learn from the animals, plants and rocks around us.

You recorded this album in three days, with the actual recording happening in one take on Day 3. How did that impact the resulting songs, do you think?

Yes, we set aside three days for recording the bed tracks. Our producer Chris Bartos came out to the farm and we got everything set up only to wake up day two to find his Lynx not working. After a couple hours of troubleshooting we rented a lesser quality piece of equipment and did two takes of the original 16 songs. Carson and I remembered feeling pretty deflated that night. But, the next morning Chris had a big grin on his face. The Lynx was working again.

It was a bit of a miracle, the way it all played out. The hiccup had turned into a dress rehearsal and now we all locked in; me on vocals and acoustic guitar, Carson on vocals and acoustic guitar and Chris on upright bass. There was this unstoppable momentum in the room, I remember banging out the songs all in one take. We became a unit and we let the songs take us on the journey they needed to have.

This project was full of deadlines that, in the end, I truly believe strengthened the art and the story. We also recorded the pedal steel on a separate day. The fiddle, Moog and electric guitar parts where written and recorded by Chris at his studio, and he came back to the farm later to record the old piano.

Working with Chris was instrumental. He understood our desires to highlight vocals and lyrics, and the resulting songs are magic.

Piper & Carson

You mention on your website that the concept of the album is essentially to take the listener through a day in your lives. What do you hope your listeners see/hear about their own lives as a result of listening to your album (start to finish)?

Perspective is so important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama of our individual lives and loose connection with the rest of the world. My hope is that after listening to the songs people will feel hopeful. Carson and I have put a lot of thought and energy into making our personal and business lives sustainable. We’ve been asking a lot of questions and speaking up on a lot of topics like mental health, racism, misogyny and ableism.

By no means are we perfect, but I do think some of the choices we make and the ideas we have are unique. Being raised by a teacher/early childhood educator (my mum Maggie Thomson Hayes) and being a teacher of 15 years myself, I’ve come to observe that humans learn best by example. I want to lead by example (as my mum did) and hope listeners might see where they may take action in their own lives. I would love for listeners to reflect on the lyrics and sentiment of the album. I think these stories initiate the thoughtful process required for change to transpire.

Listening to “Dear 1%” is an interesting experience from this side of the border (we’re based in the US) … you recorded this last summer and it seems even more relevant today than just a few months ago. What would you say about the song to folks down here?

Keep pushing back. As challenging as it is, this is not a time to give up. We must come together.

Dear 1% was written quite literally from our lives and experiences. I was inspired a few years ago to stop shaving. I realized I had never had my body intact in its full natural expression and this disturbed me. Furthermore, I realized the actual costs to remove the hair. At first it was embarrassing, but I kept reinforcing my decision with the question, ‘If it’s ok for men, why isn’t it for me?’ Overtime I realized how living true to our individual selves and loving these aspects is quite radical in today’s social climate. This disturbed me further.

Carson grew up on an organic vegetable farm. His dad Ted Thorpe is a community builder and sustainable food hero. He started the organic farmers markets in Toronto 20 years-ago when there were none; he was on the governing board for certification and he truly spearheaded the organic industry in Canada. Largely, his work and the work of so many farmers go unrecognized. How is this possible when they literally are providing fuel for us all to continue living? To me Ted is a hero.

Carson and I wrote this song because we want to remember and honour the true heroes in this world…people like my mum and his dad. It can be hard to know what to do, so we thought it was important therefore to include a very specific call to action ‘Spend all our money on ourselves, make our purchase power spread the wealth.’

My mum was always a big fan of finding ways to take action in our daily lives, and equity is something we can take part in every day. We can choose where and how we spend our money, and this is what Dear 1% is about.

Can you talk a bit about the soundscapes between several of the tracks, and why you selected these particular sounds? (I have to say I’m especially partial to the cat…)

I am so glad to hear you love the cat. He is a little lovable bugger named Joe. He is the friendliest, cuddliest and most mischievous cat, lol.

I recorded all the farm sounds on my iPhone, believe it or not. Living on Ted’s farm this last year has been life changing. I’ve never had so much connection to a piece of land and all the life on it before. I’ve been living in a state of wonder and awe. My mum’s passing last November also thrust me into this heightened state and I felt as though all my senses were activated ten-fold. She was full of never ending exuberance and appreciation for the world around her. I inherited some of this exuberance and choose to continue her legacy.

During the summer of 2017, I collected field recordings of birds, insects, weather and more. I wanted to give people a full sensory experience of life on this farmland and I chose to capture sounds that resonated with me in real time. I paired the sounds with the songs that seemed to have a similar vibe. Then I placed the sounds at the hours of day in which they originally happened. It was amazing to see the story take shape and truly represent a day in the life.

My mum was directly and indirectly a huge part of this album and it is dedicated to her. She loved birds, specifically crows, so it was only fitting they made an appearance. For the thunder, I stood outside recording for five minutes before I got the 30-second-long thunderclap, and there’s also an owl at the beginning of the last song. Shortly after my mum passed an owl’s call was present at the farm. My mum always told us a story of her encounter with a snowy owl on the beach in Maine after her mother passed, so it was very comforting when one showed up at the farm.

Piper & Carson

You have two album release events coming up (one in Hamilton, one in Toronto) – after that, do you have touring plans for the new album?

Yes, we sure do! Right now, I am working specifically on booking a Canadian east coast tour for early spring and a west coast for mid-summer. We will also be in Kansas City for Folk Alliance International conference in February 2018. I have dual citizenship, as I was born in NYC, so we are working on figuring out a viable touring schedule in the states and how to get the proper documentation for Carson too! I’m hoping to get back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival again and Nepal in the next year or two as well.

~ L - The Great Dark Wonder


"BTW- Piper Hayes, Terra Lightfoot, Carlos del Junco, Winona Wilde, Taylor Knox, Dawson Rutledge"

Canadian folk singer, songwriter and social activist Piper Hayes celebrates the launch of her new full-length recording titled ‘Piper & Carson’ with two album release concerts in Ontario. The first show is inHamilton at This Ain’t Hollywood on December 7, and the second is in Toronto at The Dakota Tavern on December 8.

Nowadays, Hayes performs and writes closely with her partner Carson Ritcey-Thorpe and, after a 2017 western Canada tour, many prime showcases at Folk Music Ontario, Folk Alliance International and South East Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA), they have become beloved darlings of Canada’s folk music scene. First single “For All We Know” is about the celebration of life and death. Hayes states, “It is important to seize the moment. To live fully we must embrace life’s unknowns, because for all we know…we only get one chance.”

‘Piper & Carson’ will be available via Hayes’ website, at shows, Bandcamp and iTunes with the official release date December 8. The album was recorded live off the floor at Thorpe’s Organic Produce farm in Millgrove, ON (near Hamilton) in the summer of 2017. It was captured in the living room of the century-old Ritcey-Thorpe family farmhouse, with Toronto multi-instrumentalist Chris Bartos as producer (Kaia Kater, The Barr Brothers, Jonathan Byrd). It features Piper Hayes (lead vocal, rhythm guitar), Carson Ritcey-Thorpe (vocals, lead guitar), Kevin Neal (pedal steel), Leah Ritcey-Thorpe (backup vocals) and Chris Bartos (upright bass, piano, electric and acoustic violin, electric guitar, Moog, vocals).

‘Piper & Carson’ reflects the couple’s last few years together, and it is an album that they encourage people to listen to start to finish. It comes complete with lyrics and a detailed booklet insert, which includes stunning images taken at the farm by renowned Toronto photographer Lisa MacIntosh. “Carson’s sister Leah did a drawing of us as two lil’ manatee merpeople. I liked the drawing so much, we used the caricatures for the album cover. I love when albums are a complete experience and include lyrics and messages from the artists. I want ‘Piper & Carson’ to grab people with not only the music but also with the total artistic package,” says Hayes. - Cashbox Canada


"MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: PIPER HAYES - AIN'T NOTHIN' LIKE..."

It's acoustic-based pop, with a little folk and a bit more soul, and a lot emotion. Hayes digs deep to find the truths, how love has affected her and guides her life. She puts all that into her vocals, expressing for the most part a warmth that she has gained from these experiences. The four songs here come from her own life stories, and love experiences, but not all romantic ones; there's one that focuses on the love of a child, and another from a dream about being with all the right kind of people who understand you. Hayes is also a theatre performer, which explains her ability to connect, and her emphasis on communication, without tricks in the way.

The young Toronto singer-songwriter doesn't bother with any hip production or sounds, ironic lyrics or obscure references. On her debut studio work, a four-track E.P., it's singer-songwriter stuff about love, with basic instruments, and no effects, no layers of ambiance or loops. Just piano, drums, acoustic guitars, organ, a couple of horns, harmonica, and the singer. Hayes doesn't even have any echo or electronic presence on her voice that I can hear, it's about as clean as you're going to get, as little between you, the singer and the band as can be. - The Top 100 Canadian Singles by Bob Mersereau


"More Music From The Inbox 13 Aug 2014 Jay Woodward, Rebel Pawn, Sarah Burton and More!"

This Toronto artist brings it all home

Sounds like: Some decade or many - A Journal of Musical Things


"Entertainment Beat"

Beach singer-songwriter Piper Hayes launched her debut album, Live in NYC, at the El Mocambo last weekend. The New York City-born and Beach-raised performer studied musical theatre for two years, but decided to shift her focus to writing and performing her own tunes two years ago.


Piper Hayes
Live in NYC was recorded during a holiday visit stateside, where Hayes ended up playing a few unplanned shows, including the one where the album was recorded at Arlene's Grocery. Danny Garcia of Firstlive Studios recorded the album, and Ray Montford of Toronto's Soundhole Studio mastered it after Hayes returned home.

Live in NYC was recorded with just Hayes and an acoustic guitar. She describes it as “very raw, powerful, and full of bitter- sweet melodies … It is an album that allows one to reflect on their experiences and get lost in a world of darkness and light.”

Hayes recently started working with a band, including drummer Emory Martin and bassist Tosh Hero. She's also started a Pledge Music campaign to promote the album and raise some funds to carry on with her fledgling musical career. The campaign is online at pledgemusic.com/projects/piperhayesliveinnyc.

Live in NYC is available through iTunes and Bandcamp. The hard copy cd will be available soon through Hayes' website at pipersings.com. - Beach Metro News


Discography

Dec 7, 2017 - “Piper & Carson” - 12 track album

Oct 14, 2016 - “Goodbye Mister Nice Guy” - 3 track EP

Sept 18, 2014 - “Ain’t Nothin’ Like…” - 4 track EP

Photos

Bio

From festival stages to intimate house concerts, Piper and Carson remind us of why we go to see live music. Their songwriting is free and fiercely personal; as if it’s been running in the woods, washing in cold water, and howling with wolves. The couples undeniable chemistry and onstage presence draws the audience into the conversation. Piper’s immersive storytelling provides context and familiarity bringing their original music to life. After first meeting on Carson’s father’s organic vegetable farm, they’ve spent the last four years touring Canada coast-to-coast, showcasing at international Folk Conferences, touring overseas in the Netherlands and to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In December 2017 they released their first album, ‘Piper & Carson. Their work is deeply rooted in intention and both strive to use their platform to forward social change and promote mental health awareness. This duo will make you believe that folk music can change the world.

Piper is a voice instructor at Centennial College in Toronto. She uses her combined background as a professional musician, certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, swim instructor and her many years of voice study to teach students what she calls vocal empowerment. She has worked with all ages from birth to elderly, for over 15 years in quite eclectic capacities; including teaching and performance. The duo together have on numerous occasions teamed up with the Canadian Mental Health Association and facilitated workshops on mental health and music. In addition Piper hosts and helped develop a music class for Hamilton Adult Community Support Program, where she works with adults with disabilities, using music to bridge gaps across all abilities and get silly. Carson grew up on an organic vegetable farm and has extensive knowledge in sustainable practices as well as building and off-grid systems. 

Piper is also a two time nominee of the Ontario Arts Council's Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award in 2016/2017 and CFMU 93.3 couldn’t keep her 2017 release Goodbye Mister Nice Guy’ off their charts, calling her “an inspiration”. 

Band Members