Artist Spotlight: Canyon.
Music helps us make sense of hard times, and the songs seem to speak directly to us when we’re hurting.
“Mad World” by Gary Jules, “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead, “Hey There Delilah” by The Plain White T’s — we all have that special song that makes us hurt in all the best ways, but what is it about the music that stirs up our emotions so much?
Singer-songwriter Canyon shares her story on how she likes to tackle in her writing, whether her own hurt or that of those around her. When you listen to her music, her songs seem to say what we’re feeling better than our own words could ever do.
A vocal powerhouse with a penchant for heartache, Canyon learned to tell the stories of the soul through living a lifetime of story over her thirty young years on this earth.
According to her site, Canyon was raised in Northern California by a single mother. Together, they would embark on long road trips through the dramatic splendor of the west coast listening to the cassette tapes of Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and Tracy Chapman on repeat. Canyon says she gets her independent spirit from her mother, who would make a bed for her in the back of the car during their road trips together.
Beneath the wide NorCal skies, Canyon’s taste for adventure flourished and she set her sights far beyond her native Pacific coastline.
“I first came to New York when I was 16 and I knew right away that this was the place I needed to be. I wanted to be around the creativity and energy, and just couldn’t stand the thought of being on the outside looking in. But my mom wouldn’t let me go until I was 18, so I spent the next two years working and saving money so I could make that happen.”
“I was so stubborn and dedicated that literally on my 18th birthday, I packed my bags and made the cross-country trek from my small hometown in Northern California to the Big Apple. My original intention was to try and break in as a dancer, but injuries quickly squashed that dream. Thankfully, I had brought my mom’s guitar with me and picking up music just kind of happened as a natural progression for me.”
As she sings on the first song of her EP,Half,“I’m on a one way road with a one way ticket. You’ve got a one track mind with not a one ounce to give. I’ve got a secret to tell you, but I guess you’ll never know it, because I don’t do broken once my eyes are opened.”
In those lyrics alone, you can feel the ambitious ache of a woman whose heart is too great to stay in one place for too long.
After several years of personal and artistic growth in New York City, Canyon turned to music more and more as a way of expressing herself as well as to tell the stories of those around her.
“A theme to most of my writing is tackling things that hurt. Whether that’s pain I’ve been through personally, or sharing the painful experiences of those around me, it seems to be a topic that I like to attack head on. It’s a joke amongst my friends that if they go through a bad breakup, I’m going to write a song about it and they just have to deal with it.”
“The pain of being human I find truly beautiful, and it’s this oddly fascinating shared concept to me because it’s something we all go through at one time or another. I’m an extremely happy, bubbly person but I still feel pain and I love writing about these very real things. Whether it’s a bad breakup, unrequited love, drug addiction – not even things that I necessarily personally have dealt with, but all very real and very much a part of many people’s lives.”
Though you can almost hear her folk roots stretch beneath her guitar as she performs, the stories in her lyrics are undeniably universal and relatable to anyone anywhere. Songwriters often can communicate feelings better than the rest of us, but she has a natural talent for writing exactly what all our hearts have thought, but could never say.
A verse from her song “Day 7” might describe it best, how she’s to transcend her own experiences and touch on a shared human condition we’ve all seem to feel at one time or another:
“Only time will tell if I can learn to let my wounds heal, if I have a penchant for the pain, or if the pain is what I crave.”