You Got Me Runnin': Meet Calvin Love

All photos by Nathan McLaren-Stewart

All photos by Nathan McLaren-Stewart

In the garden of London’s Shacklewell Arms I’m sitting with Calvin Love and we are waiting for dinner. Calvin is travelling around Europe by himself. No manager, no band, no nothing. It’s a solo run after opening up for, and playing in, the Night Beats, before he returns to his homeland to join Night Beats once more. Calvin’s latest LP, Highway Dancer, has been out for a short while. It’d a bold record. Composed by himself, his strong crooning vocals are accompanied by dark melodies, and often melancholy themes. Calvin’s personality is much like how you might expect after listening to Highway Dancer. He’s quiet, almost a bit timid, but is warm and welcoming upon speaking to. After seeing Calvin open up for Night Beats at the Dome in Tufnell Park, I was intrigued and reached out to him for a chat.

How’s it going today?

I’m good man. Got into London last night, flew from Barcelona. Good flight, but terrible airline. 

How’s the tour been, now you’re going about by yourself?

It’s been great. Started in Warsaw, went to Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Zurich… Been everywhere. I’ve been mostly flying, sometimes getting trains. Early morning budget flights.

You spent time before that supporting and playing in Night Beats. How was that?

That was awesome. Lots of great shows, and I was doing double duties every night. It wasn’t too tiring playing twice though.

How long have you been playing with Danny [Lee-Blackwell of Night Beats]? 

Danny and I are new friends, I met him in the past year. I met him in L.A. Great guy. We had mutual friends, the same management. We had a mutual respect and admiration for each other. 

I’ve been listening to your record Highway Dancer since Night Beat’s London show. It’s interesting, on the record it’s a full band but on this tour you’re going solo. Do you prefer playing with a band or solo?

Well it depends really. I’ve got a band in Canada and the U.S, and on this tour I found a bunch of other musicians around Europe, so perhaps next time I can have a full band with me. I prefer solo these days, but what I tried to do on Highway Dancer is write songs that can stand up on their own without any band or arrangement, so now I’m playing mostly acoustic songs, some have backing tracks. Whatever favours the song really.

Do you find there’s certain limitations behind performing solo?

No, I don’t think so. I mean, with solo I’m able to really focus on the vocals.

And I guess your performance as well?

Yeah, absolutely.

Have you been enjoying your time touring alone?

It’s nice to go at my own schedule. Go to bed when I want to, I don’t have to wait on anyone, only my rules. It’s been awesome. 

Have you seen anything new on tour?

Well, I’ve never been to Budapest. Very beautiful city. Prague is nice too. 

When I’m on tour I like to find the Cathedral in the city. European cities always have beautiful Cathedrals.

Right? It’s important to see the sights. 

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I read that you’ve been compared to a stranded space captain. 

Well, apparently.

Have you ever been to space?

Nope.

Would you like to go to space?

One day…

What would be the first thing you would do in space with zero gravity? 

Uh, probably a couple of somersaults. 

You know that Simpsons episode where Homer goes to space and opens the bag of crisps?

Yeah, I guess I’d probably bust open a big bag of popcorn. Float about, chomp down. 

It did make me laugh, the comparison to a stranded space captain writing down his final thoughts. If you were in space right now, stranded, no way home, what would your final thoughts be?

Well… I’d probably reflect on my life. Hopefully I would have a four track, or some kind of recording device to record those final thoughts. And hopefully I’d have a guitar. 

So it’d be sad final thoughts?

No, I think it’d be happy. It’d be like, ‘yeah, I did it! I’m in space!’. 

On the record and when I saw you before Night Beats, your strong crooner-like vocals really stood out. Where do you think that vocal style comes from? 

Probably just listening to the older, classic crooners. I’m a big fan of Roy Orbison, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen… I don’t know. It’s just how I’ve naturally sung. I’ve never taken any lessons, I just started singing one day and it evolved from there. 

Did you have a musical upbringing?

Sorta, not too much. I was mostly influenced by friends that played music. 

Do you remember the first time you performed? A high school talent show or something?

Yeah, actually. It was the High School Battle of the Bands. I was in Grade 11, so that would have been maybe 2003. We played the Battle of the Bands, did a couple of original songs and covered Search and Destroy by Iggy Pop. That’s the first time I sang.

Did you perform like Iggy too?

Oh yeah. I didn’t take my shirt off though, a little too nervous. 

So on your return home have you got any new thoughts or revelations that you’ll be taking with you?

Yeah. I’ve been writing my next album whilst on the road. I’ll go back to my chamber of reflection, I’ll reflect on my travels.

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