Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. It's Leap Day, kids. Just so you know, all your New Year cliché are wrong... 2016 is a leap year. If you noticed a shift in the universe this morning, it may be due to the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar, all while saying some stuff about climate change. The only person almost as happy as Leonardo was Kate Winslet. Kate's evening of crying with joy for Leo began on the red carpet. It was a lovely moment. Then when Leo won, Kate was all "this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Kate was so moved she literally couldn't move. She's like a Grecian statue of a mother triumphantly witnessing her underdog son heroically come home from battle.
In what many regard as a surprising upset, director Tom McCarthy's Spotlight took home Best Picture at last night's Academy Awards, wrestling the award away from the bear-wrestling favorite to win. The film, based on the Boston Globe's 2001 investigation into a startling trend of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, also nabbed a trophy for Best Original Screenplay. For whatever it's worth, horrible tragedy makes for compelling cinema. Many had their bets to win on box office hits The Martian or The Revenant to take home the big one, with Spotlight's $40 million gross making it the lowest earning Best Picture winner in decades.
The Academy Awards ceremony was visited by someone who's even better at working a roomful of people: professional politician Vice President Joe Biden, who introduced Lady Gaga's incredibly moving performance of "Til It Happens To You." It was a departure from the normal Oscars routine, and even the (hilariously) political nature of Chris Rock's hosting stint. The Vice President gave an impassioned talk about the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses (the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Hunting Ground), and urged viewers to take a stand and to make a pledge at ItsOnUs.org. Arriving to the Indiana Jones theme, the Veep was greeted enthusiastically and had one of the lines of the night with "I'm the least qualified person in this room." Then, the spotlight turned to Lady Gaga, who gave one of her most emotionally impactful performances at any awards show. She performed "Til It Happens To You," the song she co-wrote with Diane Warren for The Hunting Ground and leaving the room full of A-listers with tears and chills. ItsOnUs.org crashed Sunday night from overwhelming traffic, but hopefully you can visit today.
The first Oscar blunder of the night happened before the award show even began. The website Total Beauty totally screwed up their red carpet coverage by tweeting out a picture of Whoopi Goldberg and saying it was Oprah. Never mind the fact that Oprah doesn't have tats or dreads or is a completely different person. Get it together Total Beauty! Oprah's not even at the Oscars, she's at home eating bread. The tweet was quickly deleted. Enough about the Oscars for now, let's talk about Leap Year.
So, I know Leap Day is confusing, but I will try and help you understand it. Basically, what it comes down to is that Earth, like the jerk it is, refuses to rotate 365 times during its orbit of the sun, and instead revolves 365.24219 times. This stubbornness puts our calendar year off by about six hours.
So Julius Caesar came up with a solution back in 45 B.C.: every four years, we have Leap Day, February 29th. The other three years, we just ignore "that extra quarter of a day." So if we didn't add an extra day every four years (Leap Day), because of the way Earth tilts (wow, get it together already, Earth) our calendar would eventually become out of whack with the seasons... Christmas would be accompanied by summer weather. Leap Year actually overcorrects the calendar just a smidge, so every hundred years, we skip Leap Year, and to make up for that, every 400 years, we skip skipping Leap Year. Oops, it just got confusing again. Back to the Oscars...
Okay, with Leonardo's win I couldn't help to think how quickly things have changed...
Actually, I don't think Leo really won...
Haha. One of my favorite parts of the Oscars last night was when this happened...
I say they should host the Oscars next year. By the way, BB-8 s so bloody lucky...
Okay, so I saw this on the news the other day...
It reminded me of something and then it hit me.
It's the same, right? I love the news... they never make mistakes.
So last week Facebook came out with new 'reactions." I think they are being just a little too specific...
You know who I'm talking about. Ever notice in some magazines they show you pictures of celebrities without their makeup? Well, I thought here on the Phile I should do the same thing.
For the last few weeks I have been showing you pictures showing why candidates shouldn't pose with kids. Like the time Rick Santorum joyfully touched a baby's head.
"Hahah, where's the Purell?" Speaking of candidates... or ex-candidates I am gonna miss Jeb's look of disappointment. Like the time he couldn't get "Book of Mormon" tickets.
Okay, so, every so often I like to tell you about...
It's a lot easier to stumble to your front door to pick up a box than it is to stumble home from a bar.
Hahaha. If you spy the Mindphuck let me know.
The red carpet is just another thing celebrities walk all over in their undying quest for one more fleeting scrap of attention.
Me: Crissi! Welcome back to the Phile. I lost count on how many times you have been here. How have you been?
Crissi: I've been doing well, and keeping super busy! I'm working on a new album, and I started writing love songs by request for couples on Valentine's Day and have been totally swamped with requests ever since. It's awesome. Also, one of my songs (“Pretty Words”) went viral on Spotify, so that's pretty exciting.
Me: Very cool. I think myself and my readers are watching you grow up... haha. Since you were here last you were married, am I right? it's the opposite for me.
Crissi: Aw, I'm sorry to hear that. Yep, I got married in August last year.
Me: What was your wedding like?
Crissi: Very small and lovely. We had the ceremony at my family cottage by a small lake in Nova Scotia. I spent all my summers there as a kid, and our families are pretty spread out across Canada, so it was pretty magical to have everybody together in this beautiful, remote place.
Me: Did you go anywhere on your honeymoon?
Crissi: We weren't expecting to have a honeymoon at all, but we ended up winning a trip to Cuba, so that'll be our belated honeymoon.
Me: You're from Canada, right? Do you still live there?
Crissi: Yes, I'm from the east coast of Canada but now live in its southernmost city, Windsor, Ontario, which is situated on the U.S. border, neighbouring Detroit. We have a pretty unbelievable view of the Detroit skyline.
Me: What is your husbands name? He is a musician in his own right in a band, right?
Crissi: His name is Mike Paul, he's both a solo artist and a bassist in a group called The Walkervilles.
Me: I have to have him on the Phile soon. When I interview him is there anything I should ask him?
Crissi: I'm sure he'd love that! Ask him about his record collection, and how many albums he's been a part of. He's had a long creative career already, even for a young guy.
Me: Okay, I will. So, this year is the Phile's 10th year and the 8th interviewing people, and I am a big fan and you are always one one my favorite guests. I still am a big fan of "Little Sway," your last album. You must be proud of it, am I right?
Crissi: Thanks! I'm my own worst critic so I tend to cringe when I listen to myself, but when I do listen to it from time to time, it's usually better than I remember it being. I'm most proud of all the opportunity that has come from its release. I'm working on music full-time now, and I don't think I'd be in this position without "Little Sway" and all the kind people who listen to it.
Me: It came out two years ago, Crissi. Can you believe it has been that long?
Crissi: It's hard to believe, but I suppose a lot has happened and a lot hasn't happened... in that first year, I only wrote one song. Last year, I wrote a dozen, and in the first two months of this year, I've written almost 20 songs. I'm finally ready for a follow-up.
Me: You came a long way since your first album which was recorded in your bathroom, am I right?
Crissi: That's right... "The Bathroom EP" in 2006. It was very do-it-yourself... I made the sleeves myself with poster-board, scissors and glue, and made unique collages with magazine pages on each cover. I loved arts and crafts, and still do, but I let the CD manufacturers do the work these days.
Me: How do you think your music has changed over the years?
Crissi: It's changed a lot. I grew up in a small community where most people my age played punk and hardcore music, so there was a bit of that angst in my early acoustic recordings. I moved to Halifax when I was eighteen, where there was a big folk community, and that became my thing for a while. I came to Windsor at age 21 and have been making jazzy, soulful music ever since.
Me: I love your new single "Sweet & Fine." That song is definitely not about me. Haha. What was the influence on that song, Crissi?
Crissi: My husband's band plays sexy music, so I wanted to try my hand at writing something like that. I always get a little embarrassed when somebody asks me what this one's about...! I guess the title is a bit of a nod to "Fine and Mellow," a great jazz standard (and one of the greatest live videos of Billie Holiday, if you look it up on YouTube).
Me: And now you're working on a new album...
Crissi: Yes, I'm in the pre-production and grant-writing stage... I had some great training in grant-writing when I went to school for Music Business in Halifax, so I'm putting in my funding applications and crossing my fingers. I'll make the album regardless, but it'll definitely turn out better and faster if I can pay people.
Me: Is it gonna be similar to "Little Sway"?
Crissi: It'll be the same musicians and engineers, but the songs are different... sassier and moodier. I've been listening to Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Lewis Taylor (an obscure guy who is seriously mind-blowing, just knowing about his music is like having a kind of secret super power). I was in a troubled place writing the album, and coming out of it, I wrote some of the most motivational and empowering music of my life. I'm pretty excited to share that with people.
Me: You're a big fan of Motown... is there somebody you really like more than any other musician?
Crissi: Motown was my gateway into the past century of American popular music, but I think Billie Holiday is my all-time favourite musician. Last year was her 100th birthday, so I put on a special concert performing all Billie songs. It was a lot of work and I was so anxious, I got sick in the bushes up the street from the venue before the show, and had to go home and lay down until show time. It went totally fine, it was a sold-out crowd, and everyone was so nice to me, I almost wondered if somebody had told the audience what I had just done...
Me: Who do you get compared to the most?
Crissi: I hear Norah Jones a lot, and sometimes Billie, which makes me super happy.
Me: Have you been playing many gigs lately?
Crissi: Not so much... since the Billie gig, I realized I had to deal with my anxiety before I could feel that I was really giving audiences what they deserve without seriously taxing my health. For a while there, most shows were a kind of nightmare where I felt like I had the flu all day. I couldn't eat anything, and some nights by showtime, I'd be too weak to stand. I've had to cancel gigs because of it, and that's the absolute worst feeling. But I'm happy to say it's been getting better... I've adopted a healthier lifestyle and I've been doing a lot of private gigs and corporate events where I'm in a corner with my guitar, singing jazz songs for anywhere from three to six hours. It's hard to feel confident about something if you don't do it a lot, and having those long gigs on the calendar forced me to become a more disciplined performer. Now I'm looking forward to getting back on stage this year.
Me: I am sure you have a favorite gig you played, am I right?
Crissi: I had a really great show at the Shores of Erie International Wine Fest in 2014... that festival is a local tradition for us, we go every year and have such a great time. That year, I opened for Walk Off The Earth and played with The Walkervilles behind me, and there were two gigantic bumblebees mating on my set list, which I thought was hilarious and just the right amount of distracting.
Me: I don't know if this happened since you were here last, but you had one of your songs "A Damn Shame" on the show "Nashville." I love that show! Who sang your song and how did this happen?
Crissi: It was just a very brief little moment of music... Hayden Pannetiere's character was on a private jet, putting on headphones, and my music was what she was listening to. My lovely licensing team in Michigan scored me the spot.
Me: What did you think of this, Crissi?
Crissi: I thought, aside from being sung by one of the characters on the show, that's the best way they could have used my music. It's like, Hayden Pannetiere listens to Crissi Cochrane! Not really, but I wish.
Me: Is there a TV show you would love one of your songs to be in?
Crissi: I'd be pretty jazzed if Mindy Kaling or Tina Fey ever used my music in one of their shows.
Me: So, when you are not making music, what do you like to do for fun?
Crissi: There aren't many hours left in a week once you take out music and Netflix, but I like to visit Detroit, bury my nose in a good book, sew something (one year I made ten sundresses that I still wear all summer long), and paint my nails, which is totally a waste of time but I love it.
Me: This year on the Phile I am asking my Alum guests what they were doing 10 years ago in 2006, so what were you doing?
Crissi: Ten years ago, I was in the 11th grade in Nova Scotia, writing the songs that would make “The Bathroom EP," and working at a pizza place.
Me: Cool. So, will you come back when your next release comes out?
Crissi: Absolutely! That'll likely be early 2017.
Me: I'll see you here then. Thanks so much for being here, please come back again soon. All the best. Pass my info on to your husband.
Crissi: Will do! Thanks for having me!
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Crissi Cochrane. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Benjamin Hackman from The Holy Gasp. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snake and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker