Interview With QUOTE THE RAVEN, Music Newfoundland’s Group Of The Year
Newfoundland folk pop group Quote the Raven, recently released a new americana folk single called “Hope”. The duo which consists of Jordan Coaker and Kirsten Rodden-Clarke were named Music Newfoundland’s Group of the Year in 2019, and with this new track it’s not hard to see why. Between the incredible songwriting and the way both of their voices harmonize so beautifully, I could have Quote The Raven on repeat all day. Alongside the new single, they released a live music video, featuring a stripped down acoustic version of the track, which you can watch by clicking below. We had the opportunity to ask the duo a few questions about the new track, touring Canada, what’s coming next and more, keep scrolling to check it out!
You’ve recently released a beautiful new single titled “Hope”, can you tell us about
the meaning behind the song?
J: “Hope” started out as a song reflecting our lives and how different they are from our
friends and family. While being out on the road the last two years, a lot of them have gotten
married, bought homes and started families. We used to feel a little jealous of all the things
they’ve accomplished, but they would also say the same thing about us. I guess it’s a perfect
example of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. We’ve gotten to a place now
where we don’t base our success off of the average person’s milestones. This song is us
being hopeful that we can make a great life on the career path we chose. We’ve been out on
the road so much and we’re loving every second of it. As long as we have each other’s
backs, there’s no slowing us down. It’s also taken on a new meaning with Covid-19 because
it’s our hope now that we can get back on the road!
After you took a trip to Nashville you found a new love for the americana genre, would
you say that trip influenced the sound of this new track?
J: Like a lot of artists we often struggle to find exactly what our music identity is. We’re
always trying to narrow down a genre. Are we folk, pop, roots or country? While some of our
influences and favourite bands are rock and punk. Sometimes we have no idea where our
songs land. It was only after we got to see all of the diverse americana artists in Nashville
that we saw a genre celebrating a mixture of misfits like ourselves. In a way it totally helped
shape our sound because we realized we don’t have to fit in a box.
Alongside the two of you, there were two more award winning Newfoundlanders who
co-wrote the song. Who were they and how was the experience of writing with them?
J: We wrote “Hope” with Peter Macdonald and Chris Kirby, both of which are really good
friends of ours. The song started out as a little verse/chorus idea that I had been playing with
for months. We brought that initial idea to Pete, who helped tighten it up and then we
reworked it with Chris before we hit the studio to record it. We love the thought of co-writing
because it gives us the ability to road test our ideas before we ever perform the song in front
of an audience. You can learn so much by working with others, and it’s always fun to create
A live music video was released with the single, where was it filmed? Do you have any
stories from the shoot?
K: We filmed the video for “Hope” with our friend Stephen Green(Fairgale) and the company
Centre City Media and Film Production. Stephen brought us to a beautiful wooded area that
sits between the paths running through Pippy Park, St. John’s, and we instantly loved the
atmosphere. We had an eventful day serenading the public as they strolled by, getting easily
distracted by rabbits and squirrels, praying that the rain stayed away, almost getting jumped
on by a couple of cute dogs that had just gone for a swim, and ending the day with a few too
many mosquito bites. We can’t say enough about the team at Centre City Media. We love
what they helped us create and we all had a laugh filming it. We’re looking forward to
releasing the other projects we’ve collaborated with them on in the near future!!
“Hope” debuted near the Top 100 on the BDS Country chart, how did it feel to see
people’s reaction to the track?
K: “Hope” is a bit of a different vibe for us, so it’s such a great feeling to know that people
are loving it. It feels a little unreal when we get news about charting, and it’s amazing to be
included with so many artists we look up to. People keep reaching out to tell us how much
they like the song, and even though we write songs we love, it’s always nice when others
can connect to it as well.
Did the Covid-19 pandemic affect the release of the song? How is the Covid-19
situation in Newfoundland right now?
J: We had planned a full album release during the summer of 2020, so when we saw the
world shutting down, we shut down ourselves. At first it was hard to know we had to cancel
our six week tour and a lot of the plans we had made for the summer would have to wait.
After the first couple of months we realized that we have the opportunity to take this time to
reflect on everything we want to accomplish going forward. For the first time ever we don’t
feel like everything is zooming past us. We can be better prepared to approach things head
on as they change each day. Covid-19 has turned the world upside down, and I think that
the government in Newfoundland has done a great job adapting to a completely
unpredictable situation. Being a pretty isolated island has definitely helped a lot and we’re
lucky to have had a small number of cases.
The two of you met while singing in a choir in 2011 and in 2019 you won Music
Newfoundland’s Group of the Year Award. When the two of you started singing
together did you ever see this coming?
J: To be honest I don’t think we saw the award coming when it happened, let alone any time
during our years performing together. It was only when they sat us up front during the award
ceremony that we thought we might have a chance. It was our first award which is funny
because a lot of people had been billing us as an award-winning duo across Canada
K: I’m still surprised that I can get through an entire show without the help of lyric sheets.
When we started I would have never thought that any of this was possible. It’s been quite the journey so far!
In a past interview, you said that you sometimes felt like outsiders in your home
province, where traditional music still dominates and there are only a few bars where
you feel you can go and have a good crowd. Can you tell us a little bit about that
situation in the Newfoundland music scene and about what your favourite NL bars to
K: The mindset we used to have has changed drastically over the years. Traditional
music is a massive part of the heritage and culture and understandably something that
people gravitate towards. While there is a definite emphasis on traditional, the music
scene here is quite diverse.
We used to get discouraged when the places we played weren’t packed to the brim each
night in our hometown, but once we started finding audiences outside of the bar scene,
we realized that there’s a place for us in our province. It may have taken us extra time to
be heard but it turned out to be a great learning experience. It can still be disappointing
when we have a small turnout in a new area, but it also drives our determination to find
the people who enjoy what we do. Music is subjective, and that’s the beauty of it. We
know if we work hard and stay positive, we can find our audience anywhere.
The Levee might be closed, but we’d like to thank Gene Brown for giving us our first
gigs, and sometimes being our only audience member. Another thank you to The Black
Sheep for always giving us a stage when we’re home, Exile in the Jag for having an
amazing atmosphere and all the places over the years that let us perform!
You’ve toured Canada multiple times, what are a few of your favourite places across
the country to play?
J: We know that everybody says that everywhere they play is their favourite but we really
think that way! We play a lot of house concerts around the country and people are so
generous and caring. It’s very interesting to experience someone else’s hometown even if
it’s just for one night. We’re also huge fans of sushi so anywhere we can find the secret
locale for a tuna roll we try and check it out!
What is one of your favourite tour memories?
K: Our first time playing at the Lunenburg Folk Festival was one of the most memorable
weekends for us. We had never played in Lunenburg before, and having the opportunity to
play to a couple thousand people over the course of the weekend was a huge thing for us.
We met incredible artists and folk fans from around the world that shared the love for folk. A
lot of these people we can now call friends. It was the biggest festival we had played at the time and it will be something we remember forever.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists?
K: We have a lot of different musical tastes. Some are probably more surprising than others.
Touring can be difficult when we both enjoy different things, but we’ve managed to find quite
a few Canadian acts that we both love. Rose Cousins, Bros. Landreth, Charlie A’Court,
Fairgale, Mallory Johnson, Chris Ryan, Carolina East, Billy Talent, City and Colour, Jessica
Pearson and The East Wind, Chris Kirby, Hillsburn, oh god this is hard to narrow down! Our
Spotify playlists are full of all of the artists we’ve performed with and toured with over the
years. We consider ourselves so fortunate that we can be fans and musicians at the same
time. We end up finding ourselves in different areas in the country taking in new local or
touring acts and enjoying music from the other side of the stage.
What can fans expect next from Quote The Raven?
J: Our new record titled “Can’t Hold the Light” is in the later stages of production and we’re
preparing a couple more singles before the whole record is finished. We’ve got things in the
works that we’re keeping close to our chest until we feel like it’s the right time to share it with
everyone. It’ll probably be sooner rather than later because we’re impatient and excited. You
can keep an eye on us by following us Instagram or Facebook (@quotetheravenduo) or
2020 has been a crazy year and in these trying times, we need hope more than ever.
Do you have any last words of hope for our readers?
J: Keep doing those things you never thought you’d have the time for. Read a book, travel (if
you can safely), see a part of your hometown that you said you wanted to see but haven’t
yet. Time is of the essence and while the world is slowly trying to return to normal, it’s the
perfect time to be anything but normal!
To find more of Quote The Raven‘s music visit http://www.quotetheravenofficial.com/
Cover Photo by Stephen Green Photography & Digital Media
Interview by Jesse Read