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For Sulfur City vocalist Lori Paradis, taking a chance and throwing caution to the wind is a mantra that has served her well. The circumstances surrounding Talking Loud remain equal parts lore and coincidence but its authenticity highlights the countless paths Paradis has ambled down. She happily shared anecdotes of her past life as a truck driver before meandering back to clarifying how Sulfur City made their way to Alive Natural Sound Records.
“I was friends with Cory (Berry) from Radio Moscow and we would just go back and forth talking about how much we loved music. Sulfur City had banged out a 7 song demo which we did live off the floor; Music reflects life and whatever mistakes we made I wanted to keep them because like life, you can’t just hit the rewind button,” stated Paradis.
Berry was supportive of the demo and strongly recommended they send it to Alive, the California offshoot from the famed Bomp! Records. Started by Patrick Boissel and the one and only Suzy Shaw, the label intended to preserve the natural and raucous sound of rock and blues.
“I got an e-mail from Suzy before they had an opportunity to listen and she told me that she wasn’t sure anything would come of it because over the years she got a lot of demos from women-fronted bands and thought what she heard was weak,” laughed Paradis.
Due to a technical glitch and a dying computer, Boissel was unable to play Sulfur City’s demo and as lore has it, the common practice was to immediately toss recordings out. Paradis stated that supposedly Shaw attempted to prove Boissel wrong and urged him to simply try another computer. Second chances are rarely granted but Paradis chalks it up to luck and destiny.
“I still can’t believe that happened! I was told that once they heard me sing they called me right up. I almost didn’t pick up because when I see a number I don’t recognize I won’t answer but that time, that one time I did and that’s how our record came to be,” laughed Paradis.
Talking Loud is a refreshing change from records that rely heavily on multiple tracked instruments to make strong impacts. Paradis successfully makes a listener believe Sulfur City is personally performing for you; There are no multi-tracked guitars or blended backing vocals, just songs organically presented.
“I really connect with blues music. Nina Simone is hands down my favorite singer. When I played out before Sulfur City formed I was a drummer and we did a lot of early blues like Lightnin’ Hopkins. We just played well into the night and I felt such a big connection to it all,” recalled Paradis.
Crediting her father for always nurturing her creativity, Paradis recounts lean times of lacking food and other necessities. Hailing from a small town, artists can gravitate even quicker toward each other while those seeking a more introverted lifestyle embrace the solitude to hone their craft.
“I remember how poor we were at certain times. My dad worked hard and he always made sure we had two things, books and music. I grew up listening to anything I could get my hands on, from Cole Porter to African rhythm records. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it sparked something in me. My family was liberal and always supported all my wild ideas. I’m a drifter in the art world and I guess I was always a closet singer,” laughed Paradis.
Today she leads Sulfur City with an unabashed stage presence while her cohorts effortlessly churn out gospel tinged blues. Working to carve out a niche in the digital age, Sulfur City continues facing the challenge of consistently gigging.
“Naturally, I do all the driving to shows. Being in Canada you have to realize just how big it is. When we play local shows we’re actually driving a few hours to each spot. I guess the word ‘local’ is not the best word to describe our situation here,” laughed Paradis.
For Sulfur City, the goals remain realistic, even if Paradis brags that her new ambition is to “Play before 10,000 people.”
“I really don’t know why I chose that number but it just sticks out in my head. I know they’re people out there hungry for good, live music. We once drove 8 hours to do one show but to play our best for 45 minutes just seems worth it to me. One time, we played and had no place to stay afterward so we slept at the club. It sounds crazy but nobody complained because we just looked at it as another adventure,” laughed Paradis.
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