Artist name: Phöenix Lazare
Hometown: Salt Spring Island, BC
Latest Album: Gold
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): Fawkes, Bean, Peanuts, Peanuts & Popcorn, Pheen
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
I’m from a small island off the coast of British Columbia, so I’ve always spent the most time with the Pacific Ocean. From a young age, whenever I needed space I would bring myself to the beach and let the sounds of crashing waves calm me down. Often I’ll bring a journal to do some free writing or even a guitar to explore song ideas, but I find that even the silence inspires me to go home and create. I’ve even used voice memos I took of birds and natural sounds to open songs before, including the album’s first single, “Against All Odds.” I took this particular voice memo recording at my grandmother’s house right after COVID hit, when the transition of winter to spring felt bittersweet.
Which artist has influenced you the most … and how?
Joni Mitchell has undoubtedly influenced me the most as an artist, songwriter and human. When I started taking music more seriously in adolescence, my parents bought me one of her biographies and I thought to myself, “Who is this crazy lady?” It took me a few years to finally pick up that book, but once I did I never looked back. I started listening through her discography and learning about her journey as a songwriter and performer. I was instantly captivated by her character; I admired her authenticity and radical unwillingness to conform to standards that the music industry pushes artists. The diversity in her music between albums is a beautiful reminder to create what feels good and not look back.
What’s the toughest time you ever had writing a song?
My song “The Other Side” took years and a lot of growth to complete. It’s a very vulnerable song that reflects on my first love, looking back with gratitude rather than regret. I was hesitant to record and put it on the album because it’s so personal, but I decided I want to be an example for songwriters that it means more when a song comes from a place of true authenticity. I’ve had a few audience members come up after shows and tell me how deeply they connected to it after a breakup, so I’m glad I set aside my doubts to write and share it.
Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?
This is a very interesting question… as someone who is an enthusiast of both music and food, there are so many answers I could say. But for some reason, as a nod to my English roots, the one that sticks out in my mind is pairing Will Champion (drummer for Coldplay) with a classic Indian curry dish — my favourite is aloo gobi. I would love to share an order of garlic naan with Will and listen to his thoughts about his journey as a collaborative band member in the music industry. Coldplay has influenced my music and my life so heavily and their music would pair well with a spicy meal.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Although it might not be the very first moment, it’s the most memorable — years ago back in 2014 I brought together family, friends and community members to host a farewell concert at my hometown’s local theatre. It was a fundraiser to support the transition to my first year attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and the house was packed. Even though I was young and was still finding my sound, I performed alongside my dad, brother, and so many other talented friends. It meant the world to feel so supported in the pursuit of my dreams and in that moment I knew that music was what I was meant to do.
Photo credit: Stasia Garraway