By Tina Comeau
At this time last year, you could hardly drive anywhere in Yarmouth County – particularly West Pubnico – and ven in parts of Digby County and not see the words ‘vote for Dwight’ on a sign somewhere.
These days fans of the singer are looking for signs of Dwight d’Eon to nationally release his first album since his Canadian Idol days, but they’ll have to endure the wait a while longer.
And it’s not because, as in the words of one of his new songs ‘I Am,’ that’s he’s elusive or reclusive. It’s because he wants to make sure he puts out a quality CD with a quality sound.
And that, says the Yarmouth County native, can’t be rushed. “I’d rather take the time and get it right and put it out and be proud of what I put out, instead of just rushing it because people are expecting it to come out soon,” he says.
Since placing in the Top 4 of the nation-wide singing competition last year – the Idol crown eventually went to Brian Melo – d’Eon has been busy, with his band The Nation, working on his first album.
When NovaNewsNow.com caught up with him for an interview on Wednesday, he was in the studio polishing up his music. A couple of the songs – ‘Thumbing to New York City’ and ‘I Am’ – are out there for people to listen to over the Internet or on the radio. And CDs with the new music can be purchased locally or at his live shows. D’Eon and the band have been playing the festival circuit this summer. And on the band's Facebook page you can hear a couple of the songs.
But d’Eon says what people are hearing now is the “pre-released, rough version.” The final product, he promises, will be even better, although he doesn’t have an official release date.
But he does have a plan – something that last year, prior to Canadian Idol, he was still searching for. His former band Never had been idle for about a year and, admittedly, he wasn’t sure what direction he was seeking for himself. “I was working part-time at a gym, I was finishing up my schooling and I was trying to get out of fishing, but I had no plan.”
Now the 29-year-old is shopping around for a record label and trying to find, in his words, “real muscle, representation and management” to take his music nationally. “I can’t drive around from here to Vancouver in my car, selling CDs from my trunk,” he says. “So I’m only going to release it when everything is in place and I can do it properly.”
It’s like his approach to songwriting. He’s spent the last eight months writing and recording songs and sees himself as a better songwriter than he was before. “I studied the writing a lot more, trying to get better at my lyrics. Every song you write is hopefully better than the last one, you kind of learn as you go,” he says. “I think finally my song writing has matured enough where I feel that it’s worthy of some national attention.”
But he’s not a solo act, d’Eon says. Yes, he fronts his new band The Nation, but d’Eon says this CD and whatever comes next is a true band effort. D’Eon may have written 90 to 99 per cent of the music, but the arrangements are still a collaborate effort. And even though the faces on stage with him are familiar ones from Never – Tommy Maillet, Aran Hill and Adam Driscoll – this isn’t Never. Not anymore.
Because while the band may look the same – because of those faces on stage – it isn’t the same, he says, although d’Eon still sees himself as the rocker dude people have come to know him as in the past – although at 29, as opposed to 16, he says he doesn’t have that same angst he had a when he first started out with music. “Some of the music on the CD, there’s some of the lighter stuff, there’s still some rock,” he says about the new album. “We’re moderate rock but there is a lot of singer-songwriter stuff, and some of it is kind of down east sounding, there’s elements of that.”
And while d’Eon says he’s been working his butt off this past year, he has taken the time to do some things away from the studio. Over the past year he teamed up with the Western Counties Regional Library to help promote literacy among elementary-aged students in the Yarmouth area and he’s been a spokesperson for Democracy 250, an initiative aimed at helping Canadian youth understand the important of voting, a cause he strongly believes in. His band will be participating in a Democracy 250 concert series in September.
As for more immediate performance plans, this weekend on Saturday, Aug. 9 he’ll be performing as part of Scallopalooza at Digby Scallop Days. Dwight d’Eon and the Nation will be performing during an all ages concert at the Digby Arena. Doors open at 4 p.m. with the show starting at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, with children under 10 getting in for free.
Meanwhile, going back to the issue of a national release of an album. D’Eon says he has been deliberately slow in getting this new music out across Canada. Could it be a gamble, what with a new crop of Idol hopefuls streaming into people’s homes on television every week? D’Eon admits the hype isn’t associated with his name anymore – not to the extent it was last summer. These days the Nova Scotia singer in people’s thoughts is Port Hood’s Mitch MacDonald, who last week cracked Canadian Idol’s top six.
Asked if he’s been watching the show – which, much to his initial surprise last year, he called one of the best experiences of his life – he says he’s caught some of this season’s episodes, which air on CTV. He thinks the talent this year is phenomenal. “Overall I think it’s a better group than we were last year…the bulk of them that are left, they all seem to be artists, they’re not just singers.”
And they’re on the minds of people.
But is d’Eon? Yes and no. “The new crop of Idol is out so – with the exception of my east coast support, of course – the national exposure, it’s still there but I’m not in people’s minds anymore,” he says. “That’s why I’ve really got to make sure that this is the right product. Now I have to go back to the grassroots level and win the fans one by one, and sell CDs one by one. “So we’re kind of starting back from scratch, in a way, but we’re starting from scratch a lot higher up on the ladder than we were last time.”
Is he up for the challenge?
In his own musical words, ‘I Am.’
A year post Idol – catching up with Dwight d'Eon
Dwight d'Eon and the Nation performing Saturday at Digby Scallop Days
By Tina Comeau
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