He’s played in acts that have opened for the likes of Robert Plant and Willie Nelson and played with artists like Feist, Kathleen Edwards and Jason Collett.
You’d expect that at some point, Afie Jurvainen, popularly known as Bahamas, would be done with being 20 feet from the spotlight, and show us there’s more to him than singing backup, or supporting someone else’s sound with his tasty, precise guitar playing.
“I was writing songs long before it was my profession, and I’m sure I’ll keep writing them afterwards, too.”
A few years back, Bahamas made a conscious decision to focus on his own music, and so the title of his third album, Bahamas Is Afie, can be seen as a declaration. In fact, he calls the album “a fully realized version of me.” Bahamas says he was referring to the fact that he played a lot of the instruments on the album.
“Not all, but enough so that the album has a unique tone to it,” he explains. “It’s a dangerous way to record, bordering on narcissism and the stroking of one’s ego. I’m not sure I’ll do that again anytime soon, but it sure was fun to try.”
Bahamas says that while making the record, he “started playing this game, like, ‘What would ‘80s Van Morrison do if he were producing this?’ or ‘What about John Williams?’” He was just trying to find ways of pushing himself past the initial song ideas.
“Often you end up realizing your instincts were in the right place and you go back to the first idea anyway,” Bahamas says. “But you get a chance to try out a lot of different musical directions, and I enjoy that process. I’m not really crazy about mixing, in fact I don’t really even like to be there. So the recording process is where I’ll try out most of my ideas.”
The fun and games manifested themselves in a headphone album full of gorgeous instrumentation, different flavours and Bahamas’ breezy voice. Considering how many songs deal with affairs of the heart, we asked the critically-acclaimed songwriter what the key is to penning songs about relationships without resorting to clichés?
“People have been trying to write and re-write love songs for so long now, so obviously it’s a deep well for many writers, and I suppose the only way I can create something legitimate and unique is to make it about my experience, my perspective,” he replies. “Even though it’s ‘my’ song, I do hope there’s a way for listeners to hear themselves in it.”
So, how is Bahamas adapting to being in the spotlight?
“It’s not like I’ve ever had any hit songs or big-time videos,” he says, “so my day-to-day experience is more or less the same as it was 12 years ago. I was writing songs long before it was my profession, and I’m sure I’ll keep writing them afterwards, too.”
Publisher: Downtown Songs DLJ
Discography: Pink Strat (2009), Barchords (2012), Bahamas is Afie (2014)
Member since 2002
Turning the Page
“In high school, I met Carlin Nicholson and Mike O’Brien. They were a year ahead of me and I really looked up to them, musically speaking. We started playing together and making recordings, and a whole world of music opened up to me. Original music! Writing songs! I was very inspired by those guys, and 15 years later I still am. They’re busy with Zeus and I’m doing something, but we’re still tight, still writing, still playing. They changed my life when I was 16, and I’m forever grateful.”