Canadian singer-songwriter Julie Doiron may be little-known in the United States, but in Canada she is widely admired, both as a member of the band Eric’s Trip and as a solo artist. Her songs have earned her a Juno Award—the Canadian equivalent of the American Grammy Award—and she has been critically acclaimed for most of her musical career. Often compared to folk singer Joni Mitchell, Doiron is noted for her typically serious mood and the spare presentation of her songs.
Doiron began taking piano lessons when she was ten years old and studied saxophone in school from age 12 to 16. She began playing guitar when she was 15 but didn’t really get serious about the instrument until 1999. “I was really lazy about it,” she told Amy S. Marshall at the Snap Pop! website. “But my grandmother used to sing as a young woman, and then all of her life she sang, which was really great.” Doiron’s grandmother sang on the radio, and her mother also sang, though not professionally. Because she was exposed to vocal music at such an early age, she learned to harmonize when she was young, and she sang frequently.
When she was 18, Doiron joined the Canadian band Eric’s Trip, playing bass, at the suggestion of her then-boyfriend, Rick White, who played in the band. She told Jennie Meynell of the Speeder website that at the time, there were very few women playing guitar, and male musicians often pushed them out of lead spots. Because of this, she said, “I don’t think I would have considered starting a band on my own, really.” She said that when she was playing the guitar, one of her male friends would often pick it up and say, “Just let me play this part for a second.” An hour later, he would still be playing. “And that happened all the time—so I think I kind of gave up,” she said. Looking back on this time, she remarked, “It still happens now, only now I take it back.”
Eric’s Trip, described as “a jammy, stripped-down acoustic band of Canadian hippies” by Brian Baker in Cleveland Scene, lasted for six years, from 1991 through 1996. The band earned admirers among both fans and critics. Although the band recorded about 20 LPs, cassettes, and singles, most of these were simply recorded in various band members’ homes. Eric’s Trip only released a handful of studio-recorded albums, all with Sub Pop.
In 1996, while on tour, Eric’s Trip broke up, partly, according to White, because he and Doiron broke up. He told Mike Bell, in a Calgary Sun article that appears at the Canoe website, “The band just kind of fell apart slowly until it lost its meaning. We were in the middle of having a fun tour … when I said, ‘I’m just going to go home I think tonight.’”
While playing with Eric’s Trip, Doiron had begun writing her own songs for acoustic guitar. When the band broke up, she released her first solo album, titled Broken Girl, on her own label, Sappy Records. “Broken Girl” was a name she took for herself to describe her state of mind. At the In Music We Trust website, Scott D. Lewis remarked that the album marked other changes in Doiron’s life: in addition to beginning a solo career, Doiron married, had her first child, and began singing much quieter songs. According to Ben Rayner in the Ottawa Sun, part of the reason for this was that the quieter acoustic music was less likely to wake up her sleeping baby. Also, she said, she wrote more positive songs because she worried that when her son Ben grew up, “he would listen to [her previous songs] … and think I was always depressed.”
Fans of Eric’s Trip followed Doiron to her new life as a solo artist, appreciating a side of her they had not seen during her time with Eric’s Trip. For several months after the release of Broken Girl, she toured throughout Canada. After touring, she released records by Moon-socket, Orange Glass, Snailhouse, and Elevator to Hell on her own label, Sappy.
On her second album, Loneliest in the Morning, she dropped the nickname “Broken Girl,” saying that it didn’t fit her anymore. Although she recorded the album with several other musicians and used new instruments in the arrangements, the songs were still presented in her spare, clear style.
In 1998 Doiron received a recording grant from the New Brunswick provincial government, allowing her to spend some time on her music without worrying about making a living. She released an EP, Will You Still Love
Born in 1972 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; married Jon Claytor; three children. Education: Studied photography at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
Bassist with rock group Eric’s Trip, 1991–96; released first solo album, Broken Girl, 1996; continued solo career with several more albums; released Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, 1999; followed with additional solo albums, including the French-language Desormais, 2001; released Heart and Crime, 2002.
Awards: Juno Award (Canada), Best Alternative Album for Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, 2000.
Addresses: Record company —Sappy Records, Box 4 Stn A, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 4Y2, Canada; Jagjaguwar Records, 1021 South Walnut, Bloomington, IN 47401, website: http://www.jagjaguwar.com. Agent —Aero Booking, 8008 Greenwood Ave. #3, Seattle, WA 98103, website: http://www.aerobooking.com. Website —Julie Doiron Official Website: http://www.juliedoiron.com.
Me? on Sappy Records in 1999. The album, which featured the band the Wooden Stars, displayed a new level of musical and personal maturity. Later that year, she released Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, a collaboration with one of her favorite bands; it was the first album she had recorded with a band since the breakup of Eric’s Trip. Doiron and the members of the Wooden Stars had worked together for two years before releasing the album. Doiron told Marshall of Snap Pop!, “Collaborating with the Wooden Stars really influenced me a lot”; she realized that working with them taught her how to listen to music, noting all the various instruments and the parts they played in the sound as a whole. “The whole experience and relationship was just really nice,” she said. Critics and fans praised the album, and in 2000 the album won a Juno Award for Best Alternative Album.
Also in 1999, Doiron and writer Ian Roy published The Longest Winter, with a narrative by Roy and Doiron’s black-and-white photographs of her family. Doiron, who has been interested in photography for some time, studied the art form at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
Doiron toured Europe, the United States, and Canada in 2000. The following year, she released Desormais, a French-language album. Doiron, like many Canadians, grew up speaking both French and English, and has written songs in both languages. She told Marshall that she knew she had French-speaking fans, in Canada and in Europe, who would enjoy such an album from her. Also, she said, “Writing in English, I started getting stuck in a way, writing the same things over and over again; at least in French they’re slightly more vague, they’re not as straightforward.” In 2002 she released Heart and Crime, on which she presented spare, muscular songs, with toned-down accompaniment. Music We Trust’s Lewis described the sound as “ghostly guitar and [a] hollowed-out, slightly husky” voice.
Doiron had her third child in June of 2002; her plans included taking some time off to be with her family and to allow her husband, artist Jon Claytor, to have time to spend on his painting career. Following a reunion tour of Canada in 2001, she and the members of Eric’s Trip had considered getting back together and recording new material; when Doiron became pregnant the idea was dropped. She told Ryan Watson of Eye online, “It’s something that might always be a possibility, though it may take some time and it may be a slow process. I don’t think it’ll be something we want to pursue full-on, because we want it to be fun, and none of us want it to be our main project.”
Broken Girl, Sappy, 1996.
Loneliest in the Morning, Sub Pop, 1997.
Will You Still Love Me? (EP), Sappy, 1999.
Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, Sappy, 1999.
Desormais, Jag Jaguwar/Endearing, 2001.
Heart and crime, Jag Jaguwar/Endearing, 2002.
With Eric’s Trip
Peter, Murderecords, 1993.
Songs about Chris, Sub Pop, 1993.
Love Tara sub pop 1993.
The Gordon Street Haunting, Sub Pop, 1993.
Forever Again, Sub Pop, 1994.
Purple Blue Sub Pop, 1996.
Long Days Ride Till Tomorrow, Sonic Unyon, 1997.
The Eric’s Trip Show —Recorded Live in Concert 1991–1996, Teenage USA, 2001.
Roy, Ian, and Julie Doiron (photographer), The Longest Winter, Broken Jaw Press, 1999.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 5, 1997, p. 10.
“Interview: Julie Doiron,” Speeder, http://www.kylieproductions.com/speeder/interviews/julie_dorian.htm (November 17, 2002).
“Julie Doiron,” Cleveland Scene, http://www.clevescene.com/issues2000-05-25/nightwatch.html/1/index.html (November 17, 2002).
“Julie Doiron: Heart and Crime,” In Music We Trust, http://www.inmusicwetrust.com/articles/48r22.html (November 17, 2002).
Julie Doiron Official Website, http://www.juliedoiron.com/ (November 17, 2002).
“Julie Doiron: Prepping for a Pregnant Pause,” Eye, http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_03.07.02/music/qa.html (November 17, 2002).
“Keep Busy, Keep Happy: Interview with Julie Doiron,” Snap Pop!, http://www.snappopmag.com/stories/jdoiron7800.html (November 17, 2002).
Tree Records, http://www.treerecords.com/artists.shtml?id=10 (November 17, 2002).
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