RYAN BOWMAN, MyToba.ca
This is the fourth in a five-part series leading up to the Real Love Summer Fest, which will take place at Gimli Motorsports Park from June 6 to 8. For tickets and more information about the festival visit www.reallovewpg.com/summerfest
Sitting on a rain-sprinkled patio in Winnipeg’s West End, Ingrid Gatin appears perfectly at peace. She is sipping on a beer and talking about everything from travel to poetry to food. Occasionally, a passerby stops by her table to say hello or ask how things are going.
“That’s one thing I really appreciated about living in Montreal for a while, is the anonymity,” says the 20-something singer-songwriter. “For a while I thought it was weird to be in a place where nobody knew me, but I really started to like it.”
Anonymity is certainly a luxury Gatin is unaccustomed to.
She didn’t know it growing up in the tiny prairie town of Whitewood, Sask., where “everyone knows everyone,” and she certainly hasn’t known it since exploding onto the Winnipeg music scene several years ago.
“Winnipeg’s a really tight and supportive community,” says Gatin, who spent her teen years in Brandon, Man. “We really just have each other out here in the middle of nowhere.”
As much as she’s come to appreciate The Peg, however, Gatin’s introduction to the city was anything but love at first sight.
Before moving here to study international development at the University of Winnipeg, she had only visited the capital once – and all she remembered about the city was “the inside of the MTC (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre) and this really, really bad burger place on Main Street.”
To make matters even worse, Gatin was coming to Winnipeg on the heels of a vacation to Europe.
“After being in Venice and Rome and Paris and all these amazing places, I thought I was moving to seemingly the ugliest city in the entire world,” she laughs. “But as it turned out, there’s a lot more to it.”
Namely, a thriving and vibrant music scene.
Although Gatin had learned the piano at age four and grew up making music, it wasn’t until she caught the attention of a local bluegrass band called The Magnificent Sevens. After learning a few chords on the mandolin, she joined the band and began playing regular shows.
When she wasn’t jamming or gigging with the Sevens, Gatin spent her time collaborating with other musicians and concentrating on writing her own tunes – mostly “indie-folk type stuff.”
“I loved playing in a band, but I also felt like I needed to be doing my own thing and exploring my creativity more,” she says.
Before long, that exploration took priority over everything else. She quit the Sevens, dropped out of university and started touring as a solo act.
“I thought, ‘When else am I going to try and be a musician if not now?’”
So in addition to her touring, Gatin got to work on what would become her debut solo album, 2009’s Broken Tambourine. Drawing on the inspiration from influences like Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple, the result was a raw and emotional nine-song journey highlighted by soulful vocals and a heavy dose of accordion.
“As much as I want to stay unique and creative, I try to emulate those I love most,” Gatin says of her creative process.
Riding the momentum of her debut album, Gatin began to carve out a name for herself. In addition to earning stage time at major gigs including Focus Wales, POP Montreal and North by Northeast in Toronto, she received several arts grants and significant air play on national radio – and the royalty checks to go with it.
By the time she was ready to record her sophomore album, her reputation was solid enough to land Howard Bilerman of Arcade Fire fame as a co-producer. Released in February 2013, 1,000 Lives is more eclectic and experimental than her debut, marrying folk with pop and focusing more on the keys.
In addition to having different sounds, Gatin says the two albums carry different themes.
“My first album had a lot more to do with the dynamics of love and lost love, and kind of connecting to a place,” she says. “With my second album, when I had more mobility and more openness, I felt my music became more about hope and finding love and finding adventure.”
Gatin won’t have to travel far to find her next adventure, as she’ll be performing at this weekend’s Real Love Summer Fest at Gimli Motorsports Park. From there, she’ll hit up the Tiny Lights Festival in Ymir, B.C., before returning home to play at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café during the Jazz Festival.
Gatin says it’s a gig she’s can’t wait to play.
“Having gotten started in Winnipeg, it’s always been a priority in terms of spending time here and playing music here,” she says. “It’s where my roots are.”
– For more information about Ingrid Gatin visit ingridgatin.com
– For more information about Real Love Summer Fest visit the festival’s website