One thing about Liv Gains is that she’s her dog’s hero, that’s for sure. Rilo the dog is Liv’s slightly spastic canine companion who she usually has with her. From what I’ve seen, he’s either galloping around like a wild horse, slithering around your legs like a snake, or curled up somewhere like a housecat.
Rilo is by all accounts very cute, and responds to a series of commands that Liv has taught him which would probably anger your average dog trainer, as these commands do not adhere to the the official laws of animal obedience.
Come to think of it, you know, Rilo is actually quite an interesting dog! Why, just the other day… Oh, wait, we’re getting off track here, aren’t we? Let’s get back to Liv Gains – the human / musician, hailing from Cambridge, Ontario – that is who we are here to talk about.
Oh, wait. Liv wants to say something about Rilo now…”I got Rilo in Virgina! He was a rescue, and he’s been to Washington, New orleans, San francisco, Mt. Shasta, Ashland, Eugene, and right down the Trans Canada Highway from Vancouver to Ontario and then back to Cambridge with me.” Damn, that dog has been more places than me. Oh well.
With her idiosyncratic dog and acoustic guitar in tow, Liv has traveled across North America, a wandering minstrel with a restless spirit who loves to perform busker-style the original songs she’s scrawled down illegibly (to others, not her) in her dilapidated notebook, plus a bunch of nifty covers that she’s learned over time…like this cover of “The Lion’s Roar” by the band First Aid Kit at Waterfest in Paris, Ontario.
Now, at the ripe old age of 21, Liv can confidently add “busker” to her resume, although most potential employers aren’t all that fond of the word. You don’t get a job at the bank saying you’re a busker, but it is a great skill to have in life if you’re a musician. It can be handy for making a bit of cash to buy a burrito at 7-11, for instance.
Traveling and taking spontaneous trips to new and exciting places is part of Liv’s wandering spirit, and this desire to go places has helped her to absorb a lot of cool stuff into her music, which has a certain timeless quality as she lightly strums the strings of her banged up guitar.
So where did all this music come from for Liv? Lucky for us, she’s here to chime in: “I bought my first instrument just after my 16th birthday, when I was homeless and living in Argus. I went with another girl there and we sang outside of Giant Tiger until we made like $100. I took my $50 and bought my ukulele! Then, I started busking with that and like a month later I saved up and bought my red/maroon guitar off Kijiji for like $75 lol ummmm… I love Andrew Bird, Fiona Apple, Iron and Wine, Gregory Alan Isakov…. kind of the style I would like to play (with a band) but I play more like simple folk right now. I’ve busked all across North America – Washington, DC.; New Orleans, LA; San francisco, CA; Mount Shasta, CA; Vancouver BC; Calgary, AB; Toronto, ON. I’ve played the Boathouse in Kitchener, the Cameron House in Toronto.”
Other influences and artists that Liv likes are First Aid Kit, The Tallest Man on Earth, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Bon Iver, Daughter, Cat Power, Dillon, Tom Waits, Bahamas, Ben Howard, and Lykke Li.
A Little Indescribable
One of the things that people tend to focus on with Liv is her voice, which is kind of a raspy yet tuneful sound that seems to come from a region somewhere on her face. Ah, yeah, her mouth. Check out this little cover she did of Dream A Little Dream Of Me over on Bandcamp.
Having a unique and yet durable and flexible voice as she does is a necessity for playing shows and busking on the street, so that’s pretty handy. Here is a quote one coming from one of the venues that had Liv perform a little while ago.
“Indie singer songwriter/Ani Difranco’ish/ backwoods speakeasy with a dash of Of Monsters and Men vocal styling – okay we know, we know…Gains’ voice is a little indescribable!” – The Creative Cup Coffee House (May 2013)
These days, Liv Gains is the co-founder of the The Bridge Live Music Productions, which is a rapidly expanding collective of awesome musicians from Ontario who are focused on performing, touring, and recording. It is a unique organization with a different idea of how the music could be run, and you can learn more by clicking the link above.
You can also visit Liv’s website called The Transient Turtle: Crafts & Creations, which features crafts and artwork handmade by her. Be sure to check it out!