There was a brief period in Kim Wempe’s life when she wasn’t sure that she should keep pursuing music. She was dealing with the business aspect of her profession and struggling to surround herself with the right people. She started to wonder if she could be happy doing something else with her life. But then she wrote a song.
“I was in a head frame where I was thinking negatively, and sometimes you need a few days to think negatively and come out on top of that and open up your mind and look at the big picture and keep on truckin’ on,” says the folk singer. “I wrote a song and it helped me get back on it. And every time I sing it, it just reminds me of that.”
The song, Down Here, is new enough that it didn’t make it onto her first full-length album, Painting With Tides. Still, it got a great reception when she played it at a recent show. And Wempe is quick to point out that this positive attitude stems from the songs on her album.
“I like that Painting With Tides is overall a look at making the choice to surround myself with positive people and look at life with a more positive aspect,” she says. “Songs like ‘Painting With Tides’ and ‘Warrior’ and ‘Rhythm of the Road’ and a few others remind me of why I do this and just to keep on rising above the hard times.”
Wempe was born in Saskatchewan and also lived in Alberta but is now based in Nova Scotia. With such a grasp of the different pockets of Canada, she has developed an appreciation for the vastness of Canadian music and its audiences.
“I think it’s really neat to go to different provinces and see how people connect to different songs,” Wempe says. “The inspiration is very different in the sense that there’s a lot more of a traditional aspect over here [out east], whereas out west the music scene is more of a pop genre and the inspiration comes from that stream … It was cool to take part of the east coast and include it in the album as well as from the west with the pop music inspiration.”
The result of these different inspirations is a true Canadian folk album with enough fire to draw you in and enough heart to keep you there. It even features collaborations with fellow Canadian crooners such as Joel Plaskett and Old Man Luedecke. For Wempe, Painting With Tides was a big change from 2009’s Nova Scotia Music Award-winning EP Where I Need To Be. Not just because of the musical partnerships, but also because of the production value.
“I took it a lot more grassroots in a sense,” Wempe says of Painting With Tides. “The EP had much more production … Overall this one’s just a lot more rough-raw; I wanted to create the live feel.”
Creating that “live feel” was important to Wempe because that is where she shines the brightest and has the most confidence in her music: on stage.
“An album is an album, you pop it in a CD player and you can take the artist home with you in a way, but the live show is where you can actually physically connect with your music and people can tell you their stories about why a song means something to them,” she says. “That’s extremely important for me. It’s where I can show them [the audience] how passionate I am about what I do.”
That passion is one she’s had since she was a kid.
“I was one of those people that was a young girl, six-years-old and telling Mom I was gonna be a musician,” Wempe says. “It was really cheesy but it’s true. I said, ‘I’m gonna be a musician, Mom.’ In high school she asked me, ‘Do you have a back-up plan?’ And I said, ‘Nope, I’m gonna be a musician.’ I was strong headed that this was gonna be a career.”
And that strong head of hers seems to be paying off. As Painting With Tides continues to gain momentum and her name continues to spread across the country, Wempe can really settle into her profession (music is now her full-time job), looking forward to the career she has ahead of her in the art form she was born to pursue.
“I always knew I wanted to do it for a career,” Wempe says. “It’s always gonna have to do with music.”
Check out kimwempe.com for a free download of her song “Chameleon.”