Always partial to all things Guelph here at SlowCity.ca - in some ways it all began in Guelph so when The Lifers (Liv and Anita Cazzola) came across our electronic stoop well we opened the front door and you should open your front door to these sisters who are, oddly given the events of the last day or so, a little Cranberries sauce poured over the raucous gang vox of the Strumbellas. Their single "Front Door" of their album, Honey Suite, due in May, is an exploration of what home means so we asked them of course what home is.
Anita: "Home can hold many definitions for me - it can be a physical space or an emotional state. For a while I thought that a space was made “home” if I had been there for a long time, if I had specific routines in place, and I if had particular objects in the space with me (a certain mug, blanket, artwork, chair, etc). While this still remains true, I think “home” is so much more based in who is around you and how they make you feel - comforted, cared for, safe, important, supported. I also think of home as a space (or relationship) of reciprocal kindness. It is as much what the space/relationship does for you as what you do in turn to sustain it."
Q: In what ways has been at "home" in Guelph informed and influenced your music?
Anita: "Guelph is a very special place. There is such a wonderful community of people who support and care about art, music, sustainability, culture, community, and general well-being. It is really important to be surrounded by other creators to feed off each other’s energy. Guelph’s Hillside Festival has had a huge influence on our musical lives, both in the musical discoveries that we make each year and the care they put into their social and environmental impact. Liv and I have been attending the festival for years now, and each summer we walk away with a stronger drive to keep making music and be kind to others."
Liv: "After having lived in a couple other cities, coming back to Guelph always feels like a giant hug - the kind where all your muscles release, and even under the gentle pressure you feel you can breathe more deeply. Having my family close by does this for me, as does the community of musical mentors and peers we have nestled ourselves into."
Q: The PR says 'Rooted in female empowerment and environmental activism" - what does this look like in your everyday life?
Liv: "As a musician, a lot of our activities directly relate to our position as feminists and environmental activists. When choosing who to work with, our vision of equality is always a consideration; it is part of our mandate to actively support female/non-binary folks in the music industry. When choosing the materials we work with, sustainability is our number one priority (for example, with our band merch, we print on second-hand t-shirts and other recycled materials, and create items that support sustainable lifestyles). The trickiest barrier for us right now is that we cannot afford a tour vehicle that is considerably eco-friendly.
Seemingly little actions, thoughts and comments make a big difference. I question my everyday decisions, to see if there's any change I could make to lead by example. I listen deeply to people's experiences. I actively support people and organizations who I feel match my environmental and feminist beliefs, and I don't take part in purchases or activities that go against them. When it comes to creating change, we can't overlook the small stuff!"
Q: I get the sense that place and the maintenance of place is central to your art? If you agree, why do you think it is?
Anita: "It definitely is. I think the ‘maintenance of place’ piece is the most central at the moment. As much as the idea of personal space and ‘home’ is subject in our writing, it relates to a greater perspective of living in and maintaining our natural environment - the common ground for all inhabitants of the earth - our communal space. The maintenance of this place is vital - now more than ever."