Our BestFan TV correspondent Ian Cameron caught up with Winnipeg native JP Hoe at the 2012 NXNE festival to talk to him about his brand new album Mannequin, his tour so far and what he is a best fan of.
(Bestfan): In high school you played the bass clarinet for four years, how did you end up playing acoustic guitar and making a career out of it?
(JP Hoe): Well it started in high school, I went to an all boys school, and when your not like an athlete, you are well, not an athlete (laughs). And whenever there would be like social events with the all girls school I think it was just like a survival situation if I wanted to have any chance at you know hanging out with girls.
(Bestfan): The bass clarinet doesn’t really do it eh?
(JP Hoe): (laughs) Its a very small demographic of ladies which it appeals too. So there was an acoustic guitar that I had found in my basement and I started taking lessons from a “real” rock guy in Winnipeg, he gave me two lessons and then I split to Toronto to become super famous. Didn’t work out but then It sort of came naturally. I have been a singer all my life and this just seemed fun and a real simple way of doing something that was enjoyable for myself and this I guess was a calling card because I was really shy to meet people. Thats how it initially started. After high school I moved to France and started playing shows and that made me want to take things a bit more seriously. After that I moved home to Winnipeg and went to university and then thought I could either put more time and money into university or I can put it towards developing this as a craft and future career, so I did just that.
(Bestfan): When you started playing the acoustic guitar, who were some of your inﬂuences?
(JP Hoe): My sister introduced me when I was a teenager to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Jody Mitchell and those three sort of just got me thinking about music in a different way and it was so different than anything else on the radio. The song formats were different too let alone different instruments and realized oh you can hold a song with just a guitar and a voice and for some reason I just was never exposed to that sort of thing. Those 3 really got me started in music and in my early twenties. The Dave Matthews Band had this
album called live at Luther College which is like him and this other guy and they are both playing acoustic guitars. To this day even though I’m not really sure what has happened to the music. That record is still one of my favourites cause its strong melodies and its fun, and it was after that the ﬂood gates opened and the circle of friends that started to develop were incredibly musical and they sort of caught me up on everything that I was missing. Like, everybody has their appreciation for the Beatles but then at some point you really have to get into the Beatles and love everything and more importantly love the cadillac tracks and not the singles, the singles are frankly the least enjoyable Beatles songs I mean so yeah the Beatles and then Wilco came along and then my face got melted off because they are just my favourite. I don’t ever try to emulate or copy them musically, they just sound so fantastic, theres just so many,
Davey Man she’s like the most underrated sing/songwriter I think in North America and she’s just simple beautiful lyrics and strong melodies, I could go on forever, theres a billion inﬂuences and hopefully that doesn’t stop.
(BestFan): Whats your favourite song off of the new album?
(JP Hoe): Production wise I really liked how this one song called bittersweet turned out cause its terribly sparse and its a mixture of ukelele and members of the Winnipeg city orchestra and also we took microphones and instead of programing a loop with a
computer we built a loop microphoning the laps of our pants and then we played our pants for a few hours until we got a loop that worked. That was a really satisfying moment. As far as songs are concerned I really do love them all, nothing’s going to harm me is the most different on the record as far as tempo and changes in the song and it has a different life to it so it was nice to see it realized from demo version which I had done in my ofﬁce.
(BestFan): Tonight is your ﬁnal show on the tour, are you excited to ﬁnish?
(JP Hoe): Its been nice to play all the way from Victoria to Halifax, but I am really excited to be done. The thing is, its kind of super cliche everybody goes out on the road and thinks about getting home and once your’e back home all you want to do is go out on the road again. Im at that part of the cycle were I’m just really tired and we haven’t had a day off in 5 weeks its been like drive, set up, play, go to sleep which is ﬁne, I’m not complaining, but its really exhausting and it would have been nice if we could have scheduled a couple days off throughout just to catch up on sleep because there has been a few overnight drives which are horrible.
(BestFan): What are your plans after the tour?
(JP Hoe): We will be getting an early night tonight we’re all tired and then its a 27 hour drive back to Winnipeg, I get about 5 days off and then I’m off to Las Vegas. I don’t anticipate too much sleep in Las Vegas and then I have a really incredible break so I’m really looking forward to that. I really want to go to my families cabin and I really want to go golﬁng and I want to sleep in. Those are my 3 things that July will pretty much consist of.
(BestFan): What are you a BestFan of?
(JP Hoe): Im a BestFan of a lot of food places, whenever I’m in the states theres this one TV show called Drive Ins Diners and Dives and I have so far gone to 10 of these restaurants, and my goal is to always verify if it is as good as he (on the show) claims it is. And they have all been as good if not better. Food is a major passion of mine, I love eating good food. I am also massive fan of the world of golf, and it doesn’t make sense because musicians should not be golfers, it is way to expensive, its like a really sexy drug that costs a millions dollars a hit and I cant afford that
(BestFan): Are you a good golfer?
(JP Hoe): I am! And thats the worst part (laughs) I’ve got a 15 handicap, but I could get it down to 5 if I could just play everyday! Thats all a want, just to play everyday. But thats the other thing its too expensive to play everyday, so I have to wait for my dad to have a buddy fall through and he needs someone to ﬁll in (laughs) its not a poor mans game.
(BestFan): What is your favourite concert you have attended as a fan?
(JP Hoe): When I lived in Europe Bob Dylan was touring around with his band, and I was living in Switzerland at the time and I was going by myself because the people I was with didn’t have any money at the time. It was rush seating in this little basketball area so when the doors opened everyone ran towards the front of the stage. I got front row which was pretty incredible and there was no security guy so I was right up against the stage. The Swiss people are wonderful people but they are also very quiet and timid and as he was playing I was singing along to him and everyone around me was basically a stick. So Bob noticed me a number of times sining along and a got a couple smiles, and thats it! Too this day I would take a million polygraphs and say that Bob Dylan acknowledged my existence a few times and appreciated me singing along with him, so we kind of had a duet I guess, it was weird that he didn’t invite me backstage after, but I’m going to let it go.
(BestFan): Any big plans coming up?
(JP Hoe): I have another cross country tour in the fall and then head over to Australia and then I want to go back to Europe. The dream goal is to do 2 3 week tours in Australia, Europe , and Canada every year and make that as the tour time. And try to have a
reasonable balance because I do have a normal life, like I love music but I don’t really have a interest if that means I can never see my family and I could never see my friends. I’m sort of a dreamer that believes you can have everything, and thats the next step. I don’t really have any interest in magazine covers or anything like that, I want to make a living, I’m happy I haven’t had a second job for 3 years and don’t want to have a second job I just want to do this and I don’t want my kids to be hungry, I just want to turn this into a normal job.