Fresh Breath, the local husband and wife music duo of Josh and Katie Pascoe from Cottam, Ontario, recently hosted their third annual Barn on The Farm concert, which also doubled as an album release celebration for their latest album The Big Picture. Special guests performing as part of the event included The Oh Chays (Kelly and Michael Authier) and Chris McLean. Eyes On Windsor contributor Dan Boshart attended the concert and later took the time to interview Katie and Josh.
Q: It says in your bio that you’ve been writing and playing music since you met more than a dozen years ago. Exactly how did you meet? Was it musically inspired?
A: (Josh & Katie): We met through a mutual friend. We both kept showing up to the same parties and both played guitar. We started jamming before we started dating.
Q: Your sound has been described a few different ways, one of those is “funktry”. Do you think this is a good description or how would you describe it?
A: (Josh & Katie): When we first branched out with a full band I think “funktry” worked. It was a funky country/rock sound. But now especially this latest album we like the way Levon Helm from the band explained it in The Last Waltz. Paraphrasing of course….but, it’s a mix of country and blues and soul, It’s rock & roll. Not hard rock by any means. But just a nice mix of genres that’s hard to pinpoint exactly one category it falls in. There’s something for everyone.
Q: Josh, you are a talented multi-instrumentalist, do you primarily write the melodies and does Katie handle most of the lyrics? What is your song writing process like?
A: (Josh): There’s no definite formula to our writing really. Katie writes alone sometimes and brings songs to me and vice versa. When we write together it usually consists of me (josh) coming up with a lick on the guitar or a progression on the piano and excitedly asking Katie to “come here” from the other room. She usually replies with “I’ve got a melody already” (she’s got a god given talent for melodies) and breaks out one of our many lyric/poem books we have laying around and we start piecing it together. Katie is very good at laying out a story or issues people can relate to and I like to resolve the issues in the chorus. My favourite song we wrote together on this new album is called ‘One Liners’. We both decided it would be fun to just write 5 “one liners” (aka sentences) on a page with a loose theme. Then create the lyrics for a song out of them. I said to her during the process “I think it’s kind of cool, trying to write something different right?” I liked the line… so i followed with “Write that down for me.” And that became the first lyric of the song. The song turned out to be a song about writing a song. That’s why we love writing music. “Just let it naturally be”. (also a lyric from that song)
Q: Much of your music is very uplifting with positive messages. Is this something that the two of you are consciously trying to do with your music or is it more just a product of your personalities?
A: (Josh): I think some of our early writing much like other artists is very dark. Usually you start doing this kind of thing to help yourself work through something traumatic. Loss of a loved one or friend or something along those lines.
So just writing it out and singing your heart out helps you move on. And there’s still some sadness on this album as well. But we do try to resolve issues within our own lyrics to try and provide an answer. So you don’t dwell on the negative and you can move on. I think if you can relate to the listener and also provide some insight on how to carry on then we’re doing our part to help and connect. So i guess it’s a conscious decision but also very much in our nature as human beings as well.
Q: Back around 2013 with your “Get Up” EP you changed from an acoustic duo to a full band and your music on that album had a decidedly more rock sound to it. What motivated the two of you to take that change in direction and why now have you come full circle back to a duo?
A: (Josh & Katie): Well, it’s a natural progression as a musician to want to learn and grow as both songwriters and musicians. So the transition to a full band came quite naturally. We decided early on to let whoever we played with be themselves as humans and musicians. So from 2012 to 2015 we had 2 groups of guys we collaborated with and both the ‘Get up’ EP from 2013 and ‘A Dream that’s not Followed, Is a Dream that is Lost’ EP in 2015 have a very different feel to them. The songwriting was the same because we were the primary writers. But you can hear and feel the difference in players. So the message was always the same but we let the musicians’ styles ring through. That being said, it was a heavy responsibility to try and organize and rehearse and travel with a full band. That stress and the concern that we were losing “our” sound is the main reason for us returning to our original duo format. The release of “Us Against the World” in 2017 aptly named for the situation allowed us to figure out who we were and what we wanted to do. So we wrote, recorded, produced, mixed and released it on our own. It really let us find ourselves again. We believe it was necessary to do this in order to be able to create our latest work ‘The Big Picture’.
Q: This year was your third annual Barn on the Farm show. How was this concert series first conceived and how has it grown to what it is today?
A: (Katie): Yes this year marks the third annual and the 4th show the Barn on the Farm has presented. The whole thing started when we lived at the farm with our drummer in the early 2000’s.
We built a stage back there for a party, so we had a place to jam. We are still using that same stage today. So that stage is ultimately what sparked the idea of throwing a concert and making it into more of a venue. The barn is perfectly set up for it. High ceilings and plenty of space, so with a little TLC and a lot of dusting it has come a long way. Originally the building was used to store tractors, grain & corn. I spent my childhood out there every summer helping my dad & grandpa as a farm hand. That family connection and sense of community has been instilled in the Barn on the Farm motto. “No Attitude, All Gratitude”. So with that in mind, we try every year to make it better for the audience and focus on it being a really great place for musicians to come share their gifts.
Q: This year’s concert was also a release party for your new album The Big Picture. Tell us a bit about this new album and how you came up with the title.
A: (Katie): We had a collection of songs that we knew were ready to be recorded. So after carefully considering each one and their meanings and content. We knew that it was very introspective, having a lot to do with our own personal views and outlooks. Josh & I have always called ourselves “Big Picture People”. We have this ability to see great potential in things that others may not.
It’s not always easy to push through those boundaries when others are doubting your vision. There is a line in the Special Thanks section of the CD pamphlet that says “May you all see the big picture of your own lives”. And I think that is really the takeaway from the whole thing. A push to help others to see that maybe you shouldn’t take everything at face value, to dig a little deeper, to find what it is you want out of your life and to go live it.
Q: What is the song Point That Gun at Me about?
A: (Josh): Point that Gun at Me is a love song. The title being a metaphor regarding ill will against a man’s wife. (Obviously I wrote this for Katie) But the meaning of the song is a simple cry; asking for the universe to please spare her in any given situation, sickness or danger. To take me instead. Let me be the one that has the gun pointed at them. Literally or figuratively.
Q:The songs on the album cover several different sounds such as country, bluegrass, gospel, funk and alternative yet they flow together really well. Tell us about your long relationship with Brett Humber at Sound Foundry Studios and what his production means for your sound.
A: (Katie): Working with Brett is a pleasure. He has a great sense of where our songs are going, and direction of where they need to go. Even if it’s a little out of our comfort zone. It always ends up in the right place. He lets the songs speak for themselves and helps paint a soundscape that accompanies and doesn’t overshadow.
Every time we get into the studio, we always have a game plan and are ready to take action. So working with Brett is perfect for us, because he has great communication skills. Over the years we have become really quite close, so we have a good understanding of each other and a sense of each other’s boundaries. Making this record with Brett was exactly what we needed it to be, non-stressful, fun and just an overall joyful experience. Brett always says; “the most important person in the room, is the song” and has a wonderful ego-free way of looking at music, that really resonates with us.
Q: What are your plans for touring and promoting the new album? Can we expect to see a lot more Fresh Breath shows?
A: (Josh & Katie): Definitely! This year is a monumental year for us. We’re getting off the fence so to speak. We’ll be writing, playing and touring full time. So we’re really excited about that. We have a month long tour lined up for September this year, with stops throughout Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta where we will be showcasing the new album. We’ve put together a backing band for larger shows like festivals and any venue that we can really crank it up for. So keep your eyes peeled for those shows. We’re all over the internet (which you have to be these days) with the new album available on Itunes, Apple Music, Spotify and just about any online platform you can imagine. We’ve pressed vinyl for ‘The Big Picture’ as well. So you can grab one of those at our shows or email us and we can ship it out to you.
Barn on the Farm is presenting a great concert event to Benefit the Essex food bank October 5th, 2019. It will be offsite at the Essex Legion Branch 201. We’ll be playing with our backing band and very special guests from Halifax Christine Campbell and Blake Johnston.
Find us online at www.freshbreathband.com or on Facebook and Instagram (@freshbreathband) to get all those details. So yes! We’ll be playing and touring lots. Come on out to a show.
Article by Dan Boshart
Dan Boshart is a talented photographer from Windsor, Ontario, who is looking forward to spending more time on concert photography when he retires from his full time job in the automotive industry. In addition to shooting bands, he has an interest in travel, architectural and street photography. Some of Dan’s photos can be viewed on Instagram and he can be followed on Twitter or his 27th Floor Photography Facebook Page.