I had the chance to speak to Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and arranger Royal Wood. Royal has a farm in Lakefield Ontario and loves the Kawarthas.
What is it that Royal loves about the Kawarthas? “Growing up, Lakefield was home and no matter where I am now, it is still home. There were five kids in our family, and we had incredible parents. Music and nature was such a huge part of it as we lived on 100 acres of farmland. The Kawarthas is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. It’s a pretty easy place to grow up and be inspired to make music when you’re surrounded by that kind of beauty and have that kind of culture. And you have a lot of time on your hands as a country kid and you create your own fun. I wasn’t a kid to pick up a hockey stick, but instead grabbed an instrument and just ran with it. I took my guitar outside and wrote songs. I love it here and now own the farm I grew up on. I’m blessed to still have a piece of my childhood into adulthood.” Because Royal travels so much, being close to an airport is a necessity so he also has a condo in Toronto, “But any chance I get, I go back to the farm”, he says.
Playing music has been a lifelong passion. Royal started playing piano by ear at the age of 4. “I was such a fortunate kid as my parents loved music. With a piano and guitar in the house I had access to find where my talents lie.” He continued, “All my siblings play music in one way or another. My brother Luke and I made a career out of it and my parents are very proud.”
Royal has definitely ‘made it’ in the music industry, yet he says, “What is making it? (he laughs) I don’t even know what that means. I mean, people on my level don’t know, people on a bigger level don’t know, so it doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy making music and it’s heart felt. Then I think you've made it."
So what are Royal’s influences? “I was a kid surrounded with all types of music. My Dad liked country, big bands to jazz, my Mom loved classical and my 3 brothers were playing newer music and classic rock songs that they thought were cool. I had an uncle that passed and we got all his vinyl and reel-to-reel music, and it was Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens and Billy Joel while most of my friends were into New Kids on the Block. So I don’t sit down to write a certain way, just all those influences are in the songs.”
From the Milk Weed EP in 2003 to Love will Linger in 2018, Royal has been cranking out albums every couple of years. “I think I would put out even more music if I was allowed to. I’m always writing and have something to say. I always said I would stop the day I didn’t have something to say but, as I said to my wife when we met, you realize this is never going to stop,” he laughs.
There is a Documentary and live recording coming out soon. “It was a live recording when I headlined Massey Hall last year and there is a short documentary that will be included with Sam Roberts and Jim Cuddy saying nice things,” he laughs.
When asked what Royal thought about streaming services, he responded, “Well it’s not a revenue generator but a way to get your stuff out there. And we can’t fight it, so I like to be a part of it and know how to navigate through it. Touring is a huge part of it since I’ve always toured, but streaming is the wild west with no answers. I will figure it out like everyone else. I do believe it’s an A.D.D. society now, where a whole body of creativity is ignored by listening to just one song. and read along as you listen to the record. I only buy vinyl now myself.”
When asked about where he likes touring, Royal says, “I just love the moments on stage. Connecting with musicians and the audience is such an addictive moment, and I love it. But to play in Canada and Ontario or Peterborough is a very special time being a Canadian; it brings me back to my childhood.”
His band is truly a band of brothers and not just hired guns. “My core band has been with me since 2006. I try to keep singers all of the time, but we have to change that up at times. My bass, drums and keys have been part of it for a long time, so I’m very blessed that way.”
I asked Royal what his best gig was, to which he responded, “Wow, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say the day I quit my job and did this full time. The first gig after that was a properly ticketed show. It was in Toronto and we sold out instantly. I took the risk and it all worked out, so that would be it.”
Next, I asked what his worst gig was, and he laughed, “Oh that one’s easy. Before I quit my job, I made a record, hired promo people, a full band and touring van and booked all my shows. The first place I played was in Guelph Ontario. I thought people would show up at this place I had never been to and the record was only out for one week. (he laughs) We load in, sound check and are ready to play. The doors open and nobody is walking in. So the opening act plays and still no one is there. Then we go on and I’m playing to the bartender and literally no one showed up. And I was like OK, that was not the best thing to do. (he laughs) I learned a very valuable lesson to build an audience first.”
I asked Royal what he would like to say to all his fans. His closing line was, “You keep listening and I’ll keep creating the music and I truly thank you for that.”
It was great chatting with one of our Kawartha family members who has made an impact on all our lives. Royal Wood is a down to earth, true musican, singer and songwriter who speaks from his heart. Once you listen to him, you won’t forget him.
Website: www.royalwood.ca Facebook: www.facebook.com/RoyalWood It was great chatting with one of our Kawartha family members who has made an impact on all our lives. Royal Wood is a down to earth, true musican, singer and songwriter who speaks from his heart. Once you listen to him, you won’t forget him.