A Quick Word with Rebecca Lappa by Tom
Penguin Eggs: Winter 2015
It’s a strange thing to consider someone to
be a veteran performer when they’re only just turned 18, but singer-songwriter
Rebecca Lapp can easily make that claim.
The Edmonton resident has been writing
songs since she was 10, supplementing these early artistic efforts by picking
up gigs in both music and television during her pre-teen years. It wasn’t too long after the
multi-instrumentalist (keyboard, guitar, banjo) started writing that she was
releasing EP’s of her early work, winning songwriting awards and popping up at
Canadian folk festivals. Her first
nomination for a Young Performer of the Year award at the Canadian Folk Music
Awards came with her debut full length album, 2011’s Not in Nederland, kicking
off a run of nominations through the ensuring years.
It seemed as though she might be doomed to
staying a perpetual nominee, especially up against a strong field in 2015 that
included Coastline, Robbie Bankes and Mira Meikle. She finally pulled down the Penguin Eggs
sponsored prize on her fifth try for her latest release, Tattered Rose, which was
produced by Edmonton music legends Barry Allen and Gord Matthews. Now studying music at MacEwan University,
Lappa is considering her future in the industry and enjoying a much deserved
Tom Murray: You’ve been releasing an album
a year since 2011’s Not in Neverland: are you already at work on a new one, and
do you see it being different from Tattered Rose?
Rebecca: Well, I’ve been working on a
project with (Calgary-based producer and guitarist) Russell Broom. It’s a bit more contemporary, we’re thinking
it’s probably going to end up maybe in the alt-pop genre which means I can do
rock and other things. I do like to try
a lot of different stuff.
Do you feel constrained by being lumped into the folk music genre?
No, I think I would say that, simply because there are so many different
types of folk music out there, and it would depend on what type it is that
I take it that you like exploring different musical areas, though?
Definitely, that’s a lot of fun.
I’d like to do more co-writing with lots of different people, write for
a living and definitely tour once I’m out of college. I’ve written a few songs with Olivia Wik,
before, and I did some co-writing when I went to the SongRise Music Conference
in Red Deer earlier this year. I haven’t
found that many people to do it with, though basically anybody who wants to
co-write songs, I’m down with it.
Tom Murray: You’ve definitely got a distinctive
style of songwriting, as evidence by 2014’s Ode to Tennyson, which was based
around poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
I’ve always been very into lyrics and vocal melodies; these are the
things that I think of. I’m starting to take the music more seriously, though.
How did it feel to win the Young Performer of the Year award after so
many years of being nominated?
It was pretty amazing to finally get it after so many years. I mean, finally! Everybody else in the
category this year was amazing, which made it all the more special. To be honest, I really didn’t think I was going
to win, so I wasn’t prepared. I was wearing high heels that night, and I had
them next to me while I was sitting down.
I was getting ready to clap for whoever won, and they were like
“Rebecca”. Uh-oh, now I had to put on my
shoes to go accept it!
What are your plans for the next year or so? Will your university studies cut into your
Rebecca: Well, there’s this recording that
I’m working on with Russell. If I get
some grants for it and things go well, I may cut my program down form 4 years
to 2. It all depends, I haven’t decided
yet. The courses have been very helpful
for me, though. I’m in a jazz-based program that has things like composition,
writing charts and theory, which would help me develop some skills that I’m
maybe not so good at, the sort of thinks that will help if I’m talking to a band.
You’re attempting to round out your skills so that you’re not just depending
on being simply a singer-songwriter, I take it?
What I’m trying to do is stick as many fingers into as many pies as I
can. From talking to and watching other people in the music business that seems
to be the way to go: like Alex Vissia, who is an amazing performer and also a
graphic designer on the side. She does
things like album artwork. I’m not
skilled in that way, but I’m seeing what else I can do in the business to
supplement what I really want to so.