What does the man who plays over a hundred shows a year do during this time of social distancing?
That’s exactly what we spoke to Jeffery Straker about – that and his new single “Light a Fire”.
But before we get to the interview with this talented Canadian singer/songwriter, let’s talk a bit about this great single. “Light a Fire” is a great folksy song with a catchy melody and fantastic lyrics.
It’s a song filled with hope and optimism. It was written from a place of pain, which makes the optimism so powerful.
“’Light a Fire’ is an uplifting anthem about making positive change and being your best self,” Jeffery explains. “Losing my mom last year led to the realization with every fibre of my being, of how short our time is here. And with that,” he continues, “I’m striving to be the best I can be and I hope others are too. Make small changes, make tomorrow better than today. Be a better friend, better brother or sister, do more in your community. Make this all matter”.
We had such a great chat with Jeffery Straker! We talked about everything from the single, to how he’s coping with social distancing.
Before we get to the interview below, be sure to take a listen to “Light a Fire” on Spotify and Apple Music.
Stream His Latest Single “Light a Fire”
Interview With Jeffery Straker
Front Porch Music: Jeffery – Thanks so much for joining us up here on the Front Porch! We’re so happy to have you join us. Since this is your first time on the Porch, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Jeffery Straker: This is a nice view from the porch you have here, thanks for having me over.
Where do I start? I’m a singer-songwriter-pianist from Regina Saskatchewan. I was raised on a grain farm in small town Sask. and thanks to a local music teacher (Mrs Young) I was able to start music lessons at a really early age.
The piano and I were thick as thieves from the get-go. I took lessons for years mostly playing classical music but as one does, I started wanting to try my hand at penning some of my own songs eventually.
I’ve been working as a full-time touring musician for 14 years now performing my original music. I’m grateful to do this as my work.
Some people ask who my influences have been and it really runs the gamut. Growing up on the farm there was a hefty helping of country music in the house, but there were also the likes of Elton John and Billy Joel and Joni Mitchell and Neil Young that caught my ear. Gordon Lightfoot too. Those story-teller songwriter/performers were creating work that really made me feel something.
That storytelling style seems to come out in my songs.
Front Porch Music: Earlier this month, your single “Light a Fire” was featured as one of our Songs of the Day. Audiences really seemed to respond to this single! Tell us about the single and the inspiration behind it.
Jeffery Straker: I’m glad listeners are liking the tune.
It’s a bit of an anthem for making positive change in your life. It’s fairly upbeat, though it came from quite a difficult time in my life in early 2019. My mom got sick very suddenly and was rushed to hospital and put on life support. It was totally out of the blue. And we were with her while she did her best to recover in the ICU.
Watching her go through that, I was immediately a very changed person. I became super cognizant of time – and how little of it we have, and how nothing is for certain, really. And given that preciousness of time, one has to ask themself: what am I doing with my days? My quick conclusion was, I want to try to be the best I can be with the time I’ve got.
And really, if you’re not waking up with the intention of being the best you can be, what the heck are you doing? It’s not about making bajillions of dollars, it’s not about accumulating the most ‘stuff’, it’s about putting your best foot forward.
I met up with the co-writer of the song, Royal Wood, and he had lost his dad fairly recently. We were able to connect on this and “light a fire” was born. It came to us very quickly, and feels a bit like a gift in a way – this positive tune that comes from the shadows so to speak.
Front Porch Music: We read that you perform over 100 shows a year across the globe … is that true?! Where’s the most interesting/memorable place you’ve played?
Jeffery Straker: I do indeed perform over 100 shows a year. They range from theatres and festivals on the big end to house concerts on the small end and so many types of rooms in between.
I’ve also done shows with some symphony orchestras singing my songs – those are a blast.
If I had to single one out for you as the most “memorable” that’s really tough. But one of them that my mind goes to is a show I played in Panama a few years ago with the Canadian Embassy.
It was in a small city up in the mountains & the venue was a really big catholic church and the first 5-6 rows of pews were full of nuns in habits. They were rhythmic nuns lol in that, you know, they moved their heads with the beat and with the uptempo songs I saw all these bopping habits.
It was pretty great.
Front Porch Music: You’re an extremely talented singer/songwriter and an established artist. What is your creative process like. Where do you find inspiration from?
Jeffery Straker: I tend to capture my song ideas as I go about my day. I’ll catch a lyric line, a phrase, a few words into my iPhone as a voice memo or as a typed line. I say “catch” because if you don’t grab them in the moment they pretty much always disappear…. So in my phone I have a ‘depository’ of song ideas on the go all the time, and when I get time to actually “WRITE” I can go to them as a starting point.
I tend to need a good chunk of time blocked off when writing on my own (at least a day or so) to know that I can really get into something and not feel a time crunch.
In the days after the initial writing I do a lot of re-writing typically.
My inspiration can really come from anywhere and it’s pretty varied. People, places, memories, sometimes a thought from my subconscious that I don’t really understand. Sometimes those can provide the spark that becomes a full-blown song. On the other hand when I co-write, those all happen in about 2 to 5 hours depending on the day.
Those are a different beasts altogether but I like them a lot too.
Front Porch Music: Right now, we’re all stuck at home trying to do our part to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. What are you doing to pass the time while practicing social distancing?
Jeffery Straker: I’ve done a few Facebook Live concerts and fans have been really great to tune in and listen and support.
I’ve (sadly) been moving a lot of tour dates with my agent, to later in the year and into 2021. My new album was supposed to launch in late May but Covid had different ideas… and has delayed that launch, so the tour has to be moved too.
I’ve binge watched Schitt’s Creek twice haha.
Given that I tour so much I’ve also used the time to do a few fixes on my house here in Regina that I never had time to do.
January to March of this year had me on the road so much that I was kind of pulling my hair out. I distinctly remember in the 2nd week of March (as I was setting out for shows in BC) saying to myself “I wish the world would stop turning for a month and let me catch up on everything”.
The moral of that story is: be careful what you wish for… lol.
Front Porch Music: Thanks so much, and congrats again on the release of your latest album, we can’t wait to hear what’s next for you!
Lyric Video for Jeffery Straker’s Single “Light a Fire”
In country music, the Front Porch has long been a place of reflection. A place where you can look at the life you have inside that front door. A place where time almost seems to stand still, where you can get away. It’s also a place where you can go to observe the world as it passes by you. To think about your place out there beyond the driveway.