Fluid folk pop and acoustic melodies

Lauren MacGill

JP Hoe is playing the Kenmor on Feb. 24.

JP Hoe is playing the Kenmor on Feb. 24.

Six time Western Canadian Music Award nominated artist JP Hoe is bringing his fluid melodies to Morden’s Kenmor Theatre on Feb. 24.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Hoe said he first got into music because it seemed fun. Growing up, he said he was always around singing but not pop and folk music. He started with singing covers and, when he moved to Europe for a time, found himself with time on his hands. He filled that time by writing original songs and now has released three albums.

Hoe’s music is a blend of folk and pop, with Hoe’s bold voice tying melodies together. “It’s pop music that you wouldn’t necessarily find on the radio,” he said. “You can play [it] on an acoustic guitar around the fire.”

Hoe’s first EP came out in 2003, and his first full-length album, The Dear John Letters, followed in 2008.

“As I started to meet other musicians and they would introduce new music to me,” Hoe said. “I was able to listen to what other artists were doing and sort of see if I could put my own spin on something similar.”

“It was a lot of trial and error,” he added. “Now I feel like I’m at a place where the music I get to write and release is a culmination of all those years of listening. Now it’s a very honest bunch of music and lyrically everything means something to me.”

That polishing of his music has been something that has come naturally through that listening process. “I think that I’ve been able to refine musically what I want to put out and only put out what I’ll be proud of in 20 years,” he said.

Hoe’s last album Hideaway came out in 2015.

“I try to never guess what it is that people are into so that I’m not drawn toward recreating that same song or feel,” Hoe said. “One of the rules I gave myself a while back was to first and foremost make the song for me. Hopefully people connect to it.”

Hoe said he has had people approach him during tours and tell him how they connected emotionally to his music, which goes a long way to convincing him to continue playing.

“Without being cliche, this is a really hard job,” he said. “It’s a really hard job that I am not going to encourage my children to pursue. Having that feedback is the lifeblood. If nobody feels that connection to you and your music, it’s hard to figure out why you’re doing this.”

“There’s the selfish benefit of writing a song you like and getting to play it, but that only goes so far,” he added. “When you have a bad show on the road, to have somebody come up to is almost like amnesia takes place. You forget about that show and think, ‘There’s only 10 people here but they loved it.’ You try to figure out how valuable people’s responses are to you. It can be incredible.”

Hoe and his wife just welcomed their second child into the family. While he said balancing his music and family can be difficult, he and his wife have managed to make it work.

“Once we started to have kids, everything was just a natural extension,” he said. “It’s a huge challenge. A lot of my friends stopped playing music and touring when they had kids.”

Hoe said his first child was quite a learning curve. “Trying to figure out [if] I’m being selfish or am I doing what’s right,” he said. “What it came down to was that I feel like I’ve worked really hard at this job and to become a better artist. When my kids grow up, I really hope that I’m able to look back and share with them that I had a goal and I put everything into it.”

Hoe said the perspective of touring has changed since becoming a father. “We were in Paris for a day off and we were at the Eiffel Tower and I thought, ‘This is literally the pinnacle of my happiness,’” he said. “Then the first night I came home I went into my son’s room and read him the same book I’ve read him a thousand times and thought, ‘Wait a minute, this feels just as good.’ It’s wild to try to balance it.”

Next month, once his home life has settled down, Hoe said it’s back to business, and he’ll be working on a new record in the summer.

Kenzie Jane will be opening. Mixing the sounds of RnB, jazz and folk, Jane has played Winnipeg Folk Fest, toured across western Canada and performed with Grammy-nominated Fresh IE. She is currently working on the release of her new EP, Love Me From Scratch.

Doors open at 7:00 and the music starts at 7:30. Tickets are $20 and are available through eventbrite.ca.