Buy a Record, Make a Difference 3: Elisa Thorn

Buy a Record, Make a Difference is a new series we have created to help local musicians generate income during COVID-19. It is based on the principle that we should support and reward the hard work local artists have already put into recordings, as it is an immensely difficult undertaking to be creating new material under current circumstances. There is currently a lot of emphasis on livestreaming and innovation in our industry, and while those things absolutely have their place, we think it’s also important to boost projects that have already been completed.

In each post, we’ll ask a local artist a series of the same questions, give them the opportunity to talk about recordings they’re proud of, and ask them to talk about other local musicians whose work they admire. It’s our hope that you’ll take the time to listen to & purchase the work of local artists, or at the very least share their work with others.

Photo: Sewari Campillo


1. Who are you?

 I’m a harpist/composer/vocalist with one propelling intention behind most of the music I make: to pretty shred. As in, shred without using virtuosity, complexity or seriousness to hide from what is simple, beautiful, and inviting. I spent most of my 20s trying to distance myself from the aesthetically beautiful archetype of harp music, and I feel as though my 30s will definitely be more about owning it. The guiding principle in my approach to my music (and hopefully, my life) is curiosity.

2. Describe your music as best you can.

Vijay Iyer just sent me a letter of support for a Canada Council grant yesterday that hails my “unique versatility and artistic courage“… can I just use that as a press quote to answer any question for the rest of my life?!? Just kidding, but I have been dying to tell someone that! My music combines a lot of different influences – post-rock, jazz, classical and indie. The artists that influenced me the most growing up were Stevie Wonder, Fiona Apple, Debussy and Radiohead. I write/play in a lot of different bands that all have a bit a of different flavour (I’m very bad at genre labels but if I must, Gentle Party is chamber pop, HUE is more post-rock/jazz, The Giving Shapes is a new music/pop hybrid), but most of my work is informed by improvisation and an obsession with melody.

3. What’s your latest recording (or a recording you’d like to promote)? Where can people get it?

My duo with Robyn Jacob, The Giving Shapes, just released our debut album Earth Leaps Up. You can get a digital or hard copy here, and check out a silly stop motion video we just made here:

I also have put out two different recordings with my project HUE in the past year! Flowers for Your Heart is instrumental, and then The Other Side was recorded live with video and features a vocalist Laura Swankey. You can listen to/purchase them here, and watch the videos here.

4. Is there another local musician whose work you’d like to give a shout out to? 

So many! Only a Visitor, Debra-Jean Creelman, Wallgrin, Sam Tudor, Streams, Devours, Moondle, and Dalava.