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20 Questions With Trevor Sloan

The Toronto singer-songwriter reflects on his latest album and diverse influences.

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Photo by Nippun Goyal.

Trevor Sloan took us on a psych-folk trip to the hazy landscapes of memory lane with his album Green Reflections earlier this summer. Today, the Toronto singer-songwriter reflects on my silly questions — and somehow manages to avoid ending up green around the gills. Enjoy the trip:

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and other details you’d like to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
My name is Trevor Sloan. I’m a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist making psych-folk music from Toronto. I have three albums under my own name and six under the moniker Phono d’enfant. I’m an Aries and I like long walks along the beach.

What is your musical origin story?
I’ve loved music from a young age. I grew up in the golden age of MuchMusic and MTV, so I was exposed to all kinds of different music. I’m also very much inspired by the singer-songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s and bands like Pink Floyd. I studied classical piano. Later I got into poetry. I got a guitar for Christmas one year and taught myself. Then I just started writing songs. I was in an electronic experimental group for a while. Then I branched off on my own and started recording more indie/psych-folk music.

What do we need to know about your latest project?
I spent a year writing and recording the songs for my new album Green Reflections. I mostly used acoustic guitars and vintage synths. Some of the songs are about getting older. Some of the songs are about love. Some of the songs are about being young and fearless. Some of the songs are just about the things I see in my neighbourhood (the Junction) or when I was growing up in Markham, Ontario. I realized that there were many references to green things and nature so I called it Green Reflections.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
Well, I think every artist and person is unique in their own way. Some artists love to perform and be in front of the crowd. I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of guy. I love the writing and recording aspect of music. My focus is on finding the right sounds and arrangements for songs.

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I try to make music that will leave people with a mellow or peaceful feeling.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
When I was a teenager, I wrote a rock ballad with my friends called Cold Winter’s Cry. I remember we recorded it and there was this part at the end where I did this awful high-pitched falsetto scream. My dad walked into the room as we were listening back and said, “What the hell is that?”

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
One of the best was seeing Daniel Romano at the Mod Club a few years ago. I think it was around the time he released or was about to release his album Mosey. So he was just coming out of his country phase and embracing new sounds. It was a nice mix of the country stuff plus these new styles and he was on top of his game that night.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I’d like to spend my days making collage art and music, exercising, swimming in a nearby lake, enjoying good meals, having campfires every night and spending time with my wife and son.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
I’d love to collaborate with Francoise Hardy because she is one of my favourite singers.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I recently discovered the Filipino kundiman singer Ric Manrique Jr. from the song Inday Ng Buhay Ko. Smooth romantic sounds and gorgeous vocals.

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
Jon MckielBobby Joe Hope
Brigid Mae PowerWearing Red That Eve
Luna LiAfter Glow
Dusty SpringfieldDusty in Memphis
Floor CryNext Best Thing (feat. Vansire)
Yumi AraiEmbraced in Softness
Michael NauMichael Nau & the Mighty Thread

How about some other favourites: Authors, movies, painters, you name it.
Thich Nhat Hanh Touching Peace (book)
Walter de la MarePeacock Pie (book)
Fred Free (Collage Artist)

Who would you be starstruck to meet?
Paul Simon. He is easily one of my favourite songwriters of all time.

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
I think flying would be cool. I would like to fly to other countries and places around the world.

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I like to make collages using vintage magazines and books.

What do you collect?
Old magazines and books to use for collaging. I also still have a lot of CDs.

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Homemade Mexican dip served cold with chips.

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
TikTok. I haven’t used it yet. It usually takes me a while to adopt new social media platforms.

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
We had a family dog named Marty. He was a Jack Russell terrier, rough coat. He and I had a love/hate relationship. He liked to get into trouble (get into the cupboards, run around with a plastic bag in his mouth, eat butter), especially when I was playing the piano. It was his way to get my attention!

What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
Best advice: make music that satisfies your own ears.

Watch Green Summer above, listen to Green Reflections below, and learn more about Trevor Sloan on his website and Instagram.