Klassen calls Calgary home despite the hard winters

Calgary gets a bad rap on the cultural front. Despite being the fifth-largest metropolis in the country, touring musicians often skip the city in favour of the greener pastures of Canadian cultural juggernauts Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Critics also frequently posit that the infamous boom-town economy of Calgary has left the city devoid of any kind of arts scene. It’s with this criticism in mind that Jordan Klassen’s perspective becomes so refreshing.

“I kind of split my time between Vancouver and Calgary. Vancouver, it’s a great city, but I feel like it’s just a little more daunting. Calgary is just a community of musicians who really want to support each other,” he explains. “When I first started out, I emailed Laura Lief, who plays in a few different bands, and I just said, ‘Hey, can you give me a hand? I’m just starting out.’ And she set up some things for me.”

Klassen has only been producing music under his folk moniker for five years and one album, Tempest and Winter, under his belt, but has no difficulty discussing his intimate approach.

“I’m not the type of guy who really sits down, and like, a song pours out of him. There’s a lot of work involved and I need a concept,” he says. “I’m trying to subtly work my way through the four seasons. So, the first record was winter in its production and kind of a winter of the soul, emotionally. I had a few songs that were in between, so the new EP is really about the transition.”

For those who immediately associate the transition from winter to summer as one from dark to light, Klassen disagrees. His idea for the transition mirrors the spring thaw that sees the Bow River devour its banks.

“In the winter everything’s pretty hard and you’re in a rut and not budging. But then it starts to melt . . . I don’t know, it’s kind of sad. You have to deal with some of those things that you didn’t want to deal with all that time. It’s good, but it’s sad.”

Sadness aside, Klassen’s music can still win a crowd over. His performance at a Folk Fest workshop with Jon and Roy, e.s.l. and J.R. Shore was riveting. It wasn’t long before the crowd was committed to Klassen’s efforts.

“For me, I have these songs, they are recorded and the way I want them. So live shows are about how we can present them in the most accurate and exuberant way on stage. Something that is really interesting for people to watch and to connect to the music too. The live music is a new project in itself.”

Klassen starts touring Western Canada in August, but quickly assured he would return.

“Calgary is my musical home, and it always will be.”

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