Canadian folk singer on storytelling and empathy ahead of Teddington show

By Samuel Draper
February 5 2020, 13.00

Canadian singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing’s UK tour comes to Teddington’s Landmark Arts Centre this Sunday (February 9).

He is backed by Danish folk trio The Sentimentals and, with empathy an important part of Fearing’s music, and an bigger issue across the world, it is a timely fit.

Mr Fearing, who released his new album ‘The Unconquerable Truth’ last Friday, said: “The Danes have put empathy on their school curriculum, and it’s fantastic, but it’s also a real statement of what’s going on in the world.

“They feel there’s a lack of it [empathy] in the world so that they have to teach it as a formal thing.”

He described embracing his role as an independent musician, and recalled his experience of working with a record label.

Mr Fearing said: “When I was signed to a label, I’d record the songs and wander off and let someone else deal with the logistics and the boring stuff.

“I had no idea how lucky I was at the time. That world doesn’t exist now, the record industry has basically died.”

The singer explained that he was much more involved in the process with this latest album.

He added: “I have a much better idea of exactly what happens and if anything succeeds or fails – it’s down to me.

“But sometimes you do long for those days when it was definitely easier – it’s always easier when there’s money around.”

FOLK LEGEND: Stephen Fearing (L) on stage at the Green Note in Camden

Although he has been struggling with a cold in recent days, something he felt was an inevitable by-product of travelling on tour, the folk veteran is committed to putting on the shows and playing a mixture of old and new songs.

He said: “The first thing for me is performing. I love performing. It’s a thrill to play new material, but I have a fear that people will notice if they see the same songs as last time.

“I get paranoid about it, and then people say they wanted the old songs. I try to find the balance. You hope that’s why they’re there, to see you as an artist.

“I don’t want to lose that intimate feeling with the audience.”

He sees himself as a storyteller, something he would do that even if he wasn’t a musician.

He said: “The beauty about songwriting is you can step into other people’s shoes.

“I got tired of the idea of confessional singer-songwriters, telling your own story over and over again.

“The song ‘Sunny’ that’s on the record, that’s about a transgender person in love with a straight white guy.

“Which person am I in that song? Probably the straight white guy, but I’ve never been in love with a transgender person, so what do I know?

“How can I relate to this story? What rings true for me? That’s all it is.”

On his role as a performer, he said: “I am an entertainer. It took a while to feel that way, when I was younger it felt like a dirty word.

“I like entertaining people and luring people into my story.

“It’s a very old tradition, one person standing up and entertaining everybody – it predates everything. It’s a nice tradition to be a part of.”  

Landmark Arts Centre administrator Francesca Messina said: “We’re really excited about welcoming the multi-award winning Canadian singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing to the Landmark this Sunday.

“Backed by The Sentimentals, a superb Danish band, this is a rare chance to catch Stephen in the UK and experience his unique blend of roots, folk and pop.”

Stephen Fearing and The Sentimentals play Landmark Arts Centre, Ferry Rd, Teddington TW11 9NN on Sunday February 9th, with the show starting at 7.30pm without a support act. Find tickets here.

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