By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Tragedy can be a blessing in disguise – just ask Shane Cloutier, who used music as a way to get to the bright side of things.
Earlier this year, the Canadian alt-folk singer-songwriter put out his third full-length album ‘Lie To Me ‘Til It’s Over,’ a continued evolution of his musical journey made possible by his vulnerability, which may catch the casual listener off-guard, since the tattoo-blanketed artist is influenced by heavy metal and commonly regarded to as the #badassofacoustic.
The album explores the theme that we are stronger and more resilient than we seem on the surface – it’s what is most important in life.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Cloutier about ‘Lie To Me ‘Til It’s Over’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to become a musician?
Shane Cloutier – The moment that made me want to become a musician is when I discovered Motörhead, Iron Maiden and Ozzy at the age of 12.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Canada to someone who has never been there before?
Shane Cloutier – I would describe Canada to somebody who’s never been here as being a big, beautiful place full of good people for the most part. A place where people can be comfortable with who they are and where they come from.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Shane Cloutier – I think what excites me the most about my style of music is that it’s limitless as far as chord structure and melody and it’s not lyrically limited like some forms of music can be. I also love that I cannot hide behind effects when it’s an acoustic guitar. It’s always very raw.
Music Bugle – What is your favorite aspect of being a singer-songwriter?
Shane Cloutier – For me, writing and performing is therapeutic and to be honest, it’s a necessity for me to stay grounded, focused and happy. I think everybody has their “thing” and being a singer-songwriter is very much a part of me.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Shane Cloutier – There’s a few songs that I found very difficult to write because they touched on personal subjects that are difficult for me, but despite being difficult, those songs have to come out as well. A few examples would be “Fewer Words” from my album ‘In Light’ and “What Saves” from my album ‘Red Wagon,’ which to be honest, I find difficult to perform live sometimes.
Music Bugle – What was your goal with ‘Lie To Me ‘Til It’s Over’?
Shane Cloutier – I can’t really say that I had a goal with ‘Lie to Me ’Til It’s Over,’ but in the end, it occurred to me that it was the end of the trilogy, which is not something I set out to do. The trilogy goes from perseverance in the wake of tragedy to moving on in life and where I’ve landed emotionally and spiritually and how I look at things differently now.
Music Bugle – In what ways have you felt yourself mature musically?
Shane Cloutier – I think if there’s any musical maturity, it would be in how I approach chord structure. I’ve always been fascinated by how chord structure works and because of that, at times, I dug too deep and would lose part of the rawness, so now, I tend to let the music breathe when I write it and don’t try to push it beyond what I feel it should be. Also, the same goes for lyrics. I try to keep them as raw as possible.
Music Bugle – What was your hardest obstacle to overcome to get where you are today?
Shane Cloutier – The hardest obstacle I’ve had to overcome musically would be the transition from doing cover gigs to being an original artist. Acknowledging that I was not happy and needed to revisit why I started playing guitar in the first place.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Shane Cloutier – I think it definitely helps, although I really don’t know much about it and I am very thankful my manager does. I am fortunate that I get to do the fun part. I’m just answering peoples’ questions and responding. I think this is important and I do really enjoy that connection with my audience.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Shane Cloutier – If I’m being completely truthful, the COVID-19 pandemic was like an emotional rollercoaster for me. I went from being extremely productive and using the time to write and record to being completely depressed and feeling worthless. It’s very difficult when the only thing you’re good at ceases to exist overnight. I have many friends and colleagues that have had a really rough time with it and it is worsened by the fact that musicians have to book their work three-to-six months in advance, so as things open up, we are essentially three-to-six months behind and I’m afraid a lot of musicians are going to be put in a very bad position trying to catch up. If there is any silver lining to all of it, it has given everyone time to reflect on what is important and what may not have been so important…