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Lindsay Ray

Few people in the world get me the way that Lindsey does. Maybe it’s our jobs, (Lindsey also sings and writes in a duo called Farmdale), maybe it’s our hometowns, (Lindsey comes from Maine which has winters that rival Canada) or maybe it’s our deep, deep passion for 90’s R&B, (we can sing every riff ever written and have been known to spend our Saturday nights together ordering spicy pizza and hunkering down for an epic belt party until the neighbours bang). Maybe it was a given that we would be friends, but it was not a given that we would meet.

Five years ago exactly, I was in Los Angeles for the first time. My month there was filled with co-writes and studio time and I felt like a newborn baby. I had never written with a stranger, let alone with someone who was actually making their living at it. Song writing is a gentle beast. It takes patience and a willingness for hard truth and it is the most vulnerable I have ever felt. The concept of walking in to meet someone and jumping into that vulnerability seemed odd, and through most of my co-writes, it felt that way too. Then there was Lindsey. She welcomed the band and I into her impossibly adorable home with her impossibly delicious homemade guacamole and for the first time on my first business trip, I felt like I was in my own home.

We dove in. We wrote two songs in three hours. Our second song, “Imposter” went on to be the first two placements I have had in TV with One Tree Hill and Pretty Little Liars. That was not Lindsey’s first, though. Five years before we met Lindsey was preparing to make the move from Maine to LA. A year before she had seen that Old Navy ad featuring Ingrid Michaelson, (who is signed to the same publishing company as Lindsey and I) and she made a goal of having her own commercial. Right before leaving her little hometown for the big city, she got news that she had landed her song with Tim Meyers “Brand New Day” in a national Target Commercial. She says this was the validation she needed and has since had her songs placed in some really cool places, (like T-Mobile and X-Box with her band Farmdale) and sung by some really cool people, (like Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato and Deanna Carter).

So who is Farmdale? Made up of Lindsey and her boyfriend, Ben Burgess, Farmdale is a new band that just happened. Literally. Lindsey and Ben are both full-time artists/writers and after a busy year writing for other artists, they decided to take a few weeks off from music. However, music had a different idea. Ben was new to production and while messing around in their home studio Lindsey caught the bug of inspiration and just eight months later, they have a bunch of placements with their first full-length record. This has been so exciting for me to watch as I have seen how hard they have both worked and as Lindsey put it, “it’s a good lesson in letting go of the “trying” to be creative and just letting the creativity flow naturally”.

It has been especially exciting for me to watch her career unfold. She is constantly shifting from solo artist to songwriter to back up singer, and now to band member. Watching her jump head first into new endeavours is something that has changed me as an artist.

JA: Did music choose you or did you choose it?

LR: Music chose me. Definitely. No question. I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else with my life. In kindergarten, there was a day where we had to dress up as what we wanted to be when we grew up and I put on a fancy dress and told the class I was going to be a singer. I felt very passionately about whom I was and what I was going to do from a very early age. It also didn’t hurt that I was constantly surrounded by music growing up. Both sides of my family are very musical. Everyone on my father’s side of the family can sing and play piano by ear and I was no exception. I just joined the fun and was too stubborn to ever consider doing anything else with my life. Why not do the thing you love most?

JA: Do you find yourself to be more inspired when you’re happy or sad?

LR: Tough question! I can’t honestly say that I’m MORE inspired either way. My inspiration comes in all sorts of circumstances and I don’t really have any choice about when it comes. It just sort of happens. I could be driving or cooking and all of a sudden, I hear a whole production in my head, melody, chords, all the instrumentation…everything. I think for me it has more to do with being relaxed and in the present moment. Some of my best ideas come when I’m not trying to come up with anything, when I’m just being.

JA: In 10 years, will you be doing more writing or singing?

LR: Well for me these go hand in hand so I’ll always be doing both. I have a lot to say so I’ll always have something to write about and singing is my favourite way to express myself so as long as I’m alive I’ll be singing whether anyone wants to hear it or not. Ha!

JA: What’s your favourite thing to write about?

LR: Anything positive or inspirational. I just want every song that I write to leave people feeling hopeful or excited about life. Even in sad songs, I try to make sure that there’s a message about overcoming pain or trouble. I strongly believe that we’re all responsible for our own happiness in life and I want to empower people to be their biggest advocates and to love themselves unconditionally in spite of their faults. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. That’s what unites us! In every situation, we can choose to see the good or the bad. I aim to always see the good and I prefer to write songs that help other people see the good for themselves as well.

JA: Dream collaboration?

LR: You know maybe it’s being in Nashville and getting back to my country roots but I’d love to work and write with Vince Gill. I grew up listening to him and I still love his songs as though they just came out yesterday. And that voice! He’s just incredible. I’d love to see what we could come up with together.

JA: Live through your passion or live through your fear?

LR: Live through your passion and face every fear head on until it’s nothing but another lesson to learn and grow from.

Lindsey Ray links:

Farmdale links:

From these City Streets,
XO -Joce-



blog 3

Lisa and I are rehearsing in my living room with a small audience of just my roommate Amy. Both of these things are unusual for Lisa and me. We are not a band that has done a lot of rehearsing and we definitely don’t usually have an audience when we do. Nonetheless here we are, 2 beers and a fancy macaroon in, just jamming. It feels good. If you know us as a band, you know that we did most of our rehearsing in front of you over the last 3 years. We stood together, just the two of us, for almost 300 shows and figured out how to be together musically and otherwise. It has been so good and so hard. This is my favourite thing about Lisa. Her bass playing is a beautiful metaphor for her encapsulating (she taught me that word) presence; it hits you so hard it must be good.

We are playing a song we’ve recently both fallen madly in love with all over again. “Toppling Tower” is almost exactly a year old and was written while we were gigging in Red Deer at The Vat (obviously, Lisa is the reason I remember this). We finish playing it for Amy and she shrieks like a girl. Amy sees my songs from a place that few others do. She watches them grow from a tiny little idea in my mind to a full-blown recording I sell on iTunes. Amy’s favourite music I make is still “jocelyn & lisa”. What we do is like nothing I have ever experienced. Watching Lisa intricately weave harmonies together to find the one that has the most friction, or tirelessly search for perfectly placed bass notes according to what the song needs is a beautiful becoming. Lisa is the musical mastermind. She takes all of the crazy ideas and carves them into being something tangible, relatable and beautifully broken. How? I have watched her do this many times and I still do not know. 

Tim Vaughn witnessed Toppling Tower being made and called it one of the most collaborative things he’s ever seen. To me, that’s the greatest compliment you can ever give us. To me, that means we got past ourselves to create something bigger together. This is especially gratifying because we are so intrinsically different. Our struggles align in such an explosive way that we have no choice but to face ourselves in the midst of facing each other. In the beginning of our band, I was heartbroken. So much so, that sometimes leaving my house was too hard. Lisa was the only one brave enough to knock on my door uninvited. I was so scared to let her in, scared of what she would make me do or want me to say. She grabbed my hand, took me for a walk, said nothing and listened while I cried. After I filled the entire neighbourhood with tears and a giant breath found my lungs Lisa finally spoke, “Let go of one thing, just one”. So I did. In that moment, I learned two things I hold on tightest to now: it is ok to be broken but it is not ok to be defined by it. 

She is a leader to the leaders. The older I get the more I seek these kinds of people. You know the ones that can build you or break you with one look. It’s a scary thing allowing yourself to be around people that deeply affect you, but I also think it’s the only way to really know yourself. I am still deeply affected when Lisa walks in a room, as most are. Maybe this is because of the special intimacy we allow on stage, or the immense amount of respect I feel for how hard she works, or how much I admire the patience and kindness she musters for her clients everyday as a Music Therapist, or the grit and emotion she pours onto every stage she touches. Maybe. Or maybe it doesn’t matter why. Maybe it’s just a really good, hard blessing. I used to think it was brave allowing yourself to love someone you didn’t understand, but now I see its essential. Lisa taught me that too. 

JA: Did you choose it or did it choose you?

LJ: It’s funny because you already know so much of this. I think that I was given a dose of music long before I ever had the ability to cultivate it. It was just given. I chose it in spite of its dangers to me. That’s where the it choosing me and me choosing it run together. When you need something to live, it’s not really a choice. 

JA: Where did music start for you?

LJ: It was always there. You could not escape music in my house. I went to sleep and woke up to my father playing. I started piano lessons when I was two. I could read music before I could read words. 

JA: Where does it end?

LJ: Tangibly I guess when I die. But, if you believe things live on, which I do, I don’t think it will stop. The way that my grandmother loved music passed on to my father and then to me, and that sometime, somewhere, it will be passed on to other people. 

JA: How different would this industry be if you were a man?

LJ: I think it would be foolish to think that it would be easier if I was a man, and it would be foolish to think it would be harder. There have been a lot of opportunities and recognition that have come my way because of my gender with a combination of working hard at my craft. People recognize the reason why it’s rare to have a female instrumentalist is because it IS harder. I have faced things every single day that most people don’t, and that men for sure don’t have to face and I face things that are different from many women. I would be lying if I were to say that there weren’t many a time I wished I wasn’t a girl. Actually, I wished more people would just see me. But I would be amiss to not be grateful to be who I am, and part of that is being a woman. 

Follow Lisa: @lisajuliejacobs

Find our band:

Follow our band: @jocelynandlisa

Like us:

From these City Streets,
XO -Joce-


Mitch LeePhoto cred: Steve Seeley (Follow him here: @steveseeley)

Everyone told me to leave Calgary. Four years ago, I had just touched down from LA after an incredibly ambitious summer filled with famous recording studios, writing sessions with strangers and a city so big I couldn’t even fathom it. I was planning to attempt to do just that with big plans for more work and an eventual move to the big city. Within a few months of being home, I lost everything. My band, my plan, my songs, most of my team and what felt like my dreams were gone. Or so I thought…

Meet Mitch Lee. I met him around this time at a bar I used to play at through some mutual friends that couldn’t help but tell me how dope Mitch was and how much I needed to work with him. I proceeded to email stalk Mitch until he agreed and I still consider that to be one of the smartest decisions I have ever made artistically and personally.

We started with the Christmas movie, Dear Santa. I met with Mitch at his studio Redemption Audio and he gave me a scene from the movie with no music and a beautiful bare guitar track along with some general boundaries. I headed home with palpable eagerness and jumped right in. “Tonight” was one of the easiest songs I’ve ever written. If you know me at all, you know that boundaries aren’t really my thing so obviously I broke some of Mitch’s rules and just wrote the lyrics and melody that I heard over the already beautiful picture his guitar had painted. I finished the song that night and sent it right back to Mitch, not knowing how much he would appreciate my liberties. I have never felt so nervous for a response and I will never forget the phone call that followed.

Mitch was stoked, and if you know Mitch at all, you know that when Mitch gets stoked it involves a lot of screaming and jumping up and down. Finally, I had found someone with equal amounts of eagerness and willingness to take risks. Mitch was stoked and I was beyond that. That song ended up being the biggest seller from the movie and I really believe it is because Mitch has such a great understanding of the marriage between the song fitting the job and the song fitting the artist because he really takes the time to know the artists he surrounds himself with.

That’s the thing about Mitch, no one talks about all of the projects he’s written and played and produced on, or how many artists he’s brought together for collaborations, or how many people he’s taught through his music production and DJ school beat Drop or how insane his beats are. All that my industry friends say is that he’s a great mentor, Father and husband (3 kids!!) and friend to so many in this fast growing music community that I am so proud to be a part of.

JA: Did you choose it or did it choose you?

ML: I think both. I was watching the Lawrence Welk show with a live band on TV. I saw the drummer and knew I wanted to play an instrument so I learned the guitar.

JA: Why production then?

ML: I got tired of playing in bands and just wanted to do all the parts myself. So with computers you could do that; fire everybody and just do what you want. I was already a computer nerd. You have to be a nerd to do production these days.

JA: How different would this industry be if you were a woman?

ML: I think this industry is not really about music so much as relationships. I think it would affect the relationships I would make. Some would be easier and some would be harder. How you connect with other artists, producers, production companies wanting to hire you; there are pros and cons to both genders.

JA: Where does it start and where does it end?

ML: My dad would always play records for me. He was a saxophone player so I was always listening to him. He did some big band, jazz and gospel stuff. I don’t think it ends. It’s starting again with my kids and teaching them and watching my daughter wrestle through calluses on her fingers from learning the D chord. My kids job is clean up beat Drop every Sunday and I always get in trouble because they’re always jamming on the synths. I don’t think it ends…

Check out beat Drop

Or his production company Redemption here:

Check out the “Tonight” and “Fate” from the movie Dear Santa 
Follow Mitch  @MitchLee

From these #CityStreets,
XO -Joce-

The Quiet

Oh, hey there.

I haven’t been around much. The quiet was calling in a very loud way. So I went, I sat, and I thought. It was good and scary to allow the demons to embark upon me as they pleased. It was shocking what I found. The demons weren’t the problem. It was the hiding from them that was killing me.

So I stopped hiding. Which meant I stopped gigging, working, playing, writing, singing, talking; I stopped all of it. Mostly forced by circumstance and kind of because I knew I had to. It was Mitch Lee who taught me that sometimes even song writing can be an unhealthy place to go. If you don’t have awareness surrounding your creation of something does it really matter? Does it even exist? I had to get away from it to really see it again.

I saw a lot. Mostly I saw how many incredibly talented artists I have around me. Even just to make a record it usually takes so many people that you won’t even hear about. So that’s why I’m here. People ask me a lot about what I’m doing now and I think the truest representation of a person is whom they surround themselves with.

Everyone told me I should leave Calgary. The quiet told me to grow it.

From these #CityStreets,
XO -Joce-