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Interview: I’m Going to Break Your Heart’s Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida

by Charles Trapunski
Chantal Kreviazuk Raine Maida interview 2019

Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida are such a Canadian (and Californian) power couple that it was shocking that we hadn’t had a chance to sit down with them before in a formal setting. Luckily, this interview opportunity arose, and our conversation at the Bell building flew right by, after Kreviazuk and Maida appeared that morning on The Marilyn Denis Show. We talked extensively about their documentary I’m Going to Break Your Heart, streaming exclusively on Crave. They also shared about Moon Vs. Sun, their joint performance and recording project, and I got some surprising answers and a few LOL moments.

Here is a condensed and edited version of an epic sit-down with Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida of Moon vs. Sun.

Brief Take: You’re Moon Vs. Sun, as you both have very strong energies. Does this imply that they are competing energies?

Chantal Kreviazuk: For me today, what I think it is, you have these two necessary entities, you have to have the moon, you have to have the sun. The moon’s light is derived from the sun. Ultimately, are we really competing? No. But sometimes the moonlight is a lot more beautiful than the picture of the sun, so…

Raine Maida: Based on the time of day, they don’t really exist against each other, so…

CK: …but they come up at different times. Sometimes they’re in the same sky at the same time, which is dope and you see them, but sometimes, you know what? It is more about one or the other.

RM: And creatively, I always think that great art and great music is built from a certain kind of tension. And we naturally have that, because as you said, we’re just…

CK: 18ers [laughs] (They are both born on the 18th).

RM: …strong-willed people. But I think that’s what makes it interesting.

BT: And this is the first time that you’ve written songs together for yourselves, candid songs about your relationship.

CK: But [we’ve done so] on the fly, right? They’re not the kind of thing in which you are sitting there and contemplating your relationship, the depth of your existence as a couple.

RM: When we decided to do this, we were like “Okay, why would we do this?” There’s enough duos and cool bands out there. But we felt that the difference for us, maybe something unique is that we’ve been together for almost 20 years and we’re at a point, maturity-wise as artists, one, and as people, that we can say some real shit, because we have that history, in which if you don’t, you’re kinda fakin’ it, or you’re…

CK: Or you’re repeating…

RM: …yeah. We took that on us, the conversations and the dialogues within the songs are hopefully what separates, and so far, we’ve got feedback like that, like people are digging how raw it is and how it feels like we’re talking to each other. That’s what works for me especially when we play live now, having been on the other side, this is like really intimate.

CK: It’s meaningful, you know.

RM: It’s really nuanced, the performances are really nuanced, because we are having these conversations on stage every night and having a conversation on stage is a whole different kind of dynamic. Even though you say we’ve written songs, this is the first time that we’ve focused on: “Okay, we’re doing an album and a project together”. And that’s a big step for us.

CK: Writing for other people, you have this hope that you’re going to make something out of nothing, which is amazing and that you hope that people will enjoy and it will be catchy and obviously, all these great things will come of it. But this is us trying to…

RM: It’s so personal.

CK: We are trying to take a snapshot of what is truly happening in our human development and in our relationship. And sometimes I think that we forget that our personal stories are everyone’s story. That’s where people connect, where they insert themselves, where they see themselves in that story. In particular, if they have been coupled for a long time, they are going to insert themselves. Some people think they’re Raine, some people think they’re me, some people have left me already and they’re happy watching the film, because they no longer have to deal with me, you know what I mean? It depends on where they’re at, but our story of being a married team is, I think, probably, a lot of people’s story. And I don’t think that we thought that at the beginning, but because Raine and I have been doing marriage coaching…

RM: We did.

CK: For like seven years.

RM: We spoke our stories.

CK: What one would assume.

RM: We made poetry out of the relationship and I think that it’s amazing to watch how people…

CK: Yeah!

RM: through their own lens are able to…

CK: …see themselves.

RM: Or insert themselves, relate to it and engage that way. There’s two types of music for me: there’s music that helps you escape from everything, and then there’s stuff that makes you really feel like “wow, is that person talking about me?”

CK: And what can I take away from it.

RM: And as a music fan, I really appreciate both, and then…

CK: Mmmm-hmmm.

RM: And this to me, besides ‘4am’, this is the first time I’ve had an album of those types of songs in which it’s like “wow!”. And this is me standing outside, but as a fan, these are stories that are happening in my life right now. I really appreciate the artistic part of that.

CK: To me, it’s all about seeing the power of one’s own truth. That, to me, is where the art lies.

BT: But you have written songs with other artists that are very intimate.

RM: Still not ours though, you know what I mean?

CK: Still not us trying to write about our life as a couple. I still don’t think it’s a direct hit, like that. This is direct hit.

BT: Do you feel like an artist is responsible to tell their own story?

CK: Not necessarily.

RM: I do, I definitely do.

CK: Well, uh, [scoffs] be truthful about their own story? Not necessarily. The story they want to tell. Yeah.

RM: It’s basically like: “What do you have to say?” Otherwise, why are you in the room?

CK: Otherwise, I can write you a song and if you like it, sing it. You do want to capture who is that artist, like whatever is that.

RM: I think that what you’re hinting at is that we try to write personal stories and even the artists with whom we work, you’re trying to pull out of them some sort of personal thing. There’s always a relatability that way, with anything to what we’re attached, but Moon Vs. Sun is more personal and intimate by far than anything we’ve ever done.

CK: Yeah, even the songs that I’ve written with other artists that sound personal and intimate, they’re not this.

RM: It’s like every time we perform…

CK: …We live it. We live the song.

BT: Do you feel more honest when you are performing on stage?

CK: Oh yeah! Oh yeah. The words and commitment to each song, each lyric, you can’t compare. You really can’t. You know, Saturday Night Live with Kendrick Lamar is this splashy kind of surreal, like that’s amazing. It’s like a thunderbolt. It’s cool. Nothing could possibly compare to these songs and being on stage with my husband. I mean, are you kidding me? It’s like ‘pinch me’ on a totally different level. Will it necessarily have the same punch as appearing on SNL? I dunno! Maybe Lorne Michaels would like Moon vs. Sun to be on Saturday Night Live and that’s coming up next.

RM: Can you help us with that, Charles?

CK: I gotta reach out to Lorne. But isn’t this the interesting thing about this world of music and entertainment? That sometimes you hear a lyric and it’s a pop song and yet it blew your fuckin’ mind. And then other times, it’s just catchy and stupid and it’s a hit, like who knows. Who knows what will determine that piece? But all I know is that when I’m on stage with my man and getting to do that?!

RM: And I don’t want to sound pretentious, but it’s the closest thing that we’ve got to…it doesn’t ever feel like we’re performing. Like when we’ve got these songs…

CK: I don’t warm up even, I walk out and I’m myself.

RM: Yeah, it’s so cool. It’s such a comfort. It’s so intrinsic to who we are and what our lives are.

CK: If you wake up and you are your crappiest self, you still have your mate, and I feel like that, I walk out on stage, and this is crappy me, but my mate is with me on stage and we’ll get through it.

BT: The trend in popular music seems to be a demand for intimacy.

CK: Really?

BT: Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift…

RM: Cardi B lately has been pretty intimate.

CK: You think Ariana Grande is intimate?

BT: It’s intimacy but with…

CK: It’s not. It’s still slick. It’s still pop, pop, pop.

BT: There’s still a story to be told, with some elements that are fake.

RM: I don’t think it’s all fake.

CK: I do. I think it’s all bullshit. I don’t hear anything that I don’t think is bullshit. I think it’s mostly crap, personally, I do. And I write it. I participate in that. This is a different level. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s honest.

RM: But who’s the girl that…

CK: I don’t think it’s possible though! I’m not mad at that, because how is it possible? “I’m Ariana Grande, I sing like a beast”. I don’t walk into a room and hope that in a collaborative setting someone captures who I am and writes my song for slash with me. That’s okay. You get somewhere with that. But you’re not going to get, we both play instruments, we both write songs and we’re both singers. Like that’s kind of amazing. To me, that’s super next level. I’m going to get close to the truth.

BT: When you’re performing songs that you’ve done before, how do you find the intimacy?

CK: I think consciously or subconsciously, you have to find that ‘beginner’s mind’ thing. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I treat all of my performances like a meditative experience. And I go in it and I never sing it quite the same. Ever. So that it’s interesting for me and I’m just in the moment challenging myself and finding new meaning, every single time. And I’m grateful that a lot of the songs that I have written in my past are meaningful to me. They’re not all like “here, I want to write a great song”. I want to say words that reflected where I was in my human development and that was helpful. You know, ‘Before You’ or ‘Surrounded’ still matters to me.

RM: [interrupting] I think that the unique thing about Moon vs. Sun…

CK: Sorry, go ahead, babe.

RM: There’s not a song on the record…

CK: [laughing]

RM: There’s not a song on the record where we wouldn’t ever perform. There’s tons of Our Lady Peace songs in which I tell the band “I just don’t believe it any more”.

CK: We could stand up and sing the whole album.

RM: Yeah, our project is so authentic and real to us. I don’t know if people get that, but…

CK: …that’s all that matters, it’s real to us.

RM: When we get on stage, we’re having that dialogue, the same way that we talk about the song and wrote it together, we’re reliving that dialogue again.

CK: Yeah.

RM: And there’s no way it’s never not going to be real. It might not, they might have these ebbs and flows depending on where we are in a relationship.

CK: [laughs]

RM: Like this means more tonight, and it’s happened already, where we walk on stage in a fight, start singing a song, and…

CK: ‘Under the Stars’, which is like: [sings] I regret that I was selfish [ends singing] it’s probably saying something about, like paying taxes. [laughs loudly]

RM: There’s lessons in our songs and that’s going to give it…I don’t know, I don’t know what’s the right word. Accessibility?

CK: It’s a gift when you’re able to sing those songs when you’re going through the every day turbulence of the experience.

RM: I mean, they’re still raw, they’re still moments in all those songs that feel raw, which is amazing.

BT: When you perform as Moon Vs. Sun, do you perform each other’s songs as well?

CK: I sing ‘Superman’s Dead’, he sings ‘Wayne’. I’d love to sing a bunch of his songs. I love ‘In Repair’, I love ‘Clumsy’. Was that the one I was thinking the other day? Oh! I like ‘Apology’, I want sing ‘Apology’. I love so many Our Lady Peace songs. It’s kind of strange, they translate well to me, playing them at the piano, so yeah, Raine keeps begging to sing more of my songs, but I’m telling him to stand down a little.

BT: In songwriting, is there a well from which to draw?

CK: This guy is a great interviewer, I’m loving the questions!

RM: Yeah.

CK: Like: “Is there a well”, that’s beautiful.

RM: Tons, and it’s just started now, it’s the tip of the iceberg. The fact that we have done this and started something—we have a name and have a backdrop.

CK: [laughs]

RM: We have merchandise.

CK: We have lights.

RM: It’s real, there’s an album, there’s a documentary, there’s a podcast.

CK: We’re writing a book.

RM: Now it’s real. Now that this thing’s all out there and we can take a breath, the music will come so much easier now. Because we’ve never had something tangible. Now this Moon vs. Sun is real.

CK: We can dip back into it.

RM: If we’re sitting at home one night and have an idea for songs, we should do this because we have somewhere to put it. Which a lot of times, I think that we were hesitant.

CK: We were starting from nowhere.

RM: Like why write a song, if no one’s going to fuckin’ hear it?! And now people get to hear it, which is cool.

BT: Tell me about your work with War Child?

CK: I’m very excited that War Child is heading into Yemen, which isn’t an easy feat, and are there helping the situation. They’re starting up something in Bangladesh. They’re still going to the world’s hottest hot spots, in which children in communities don’t have a chance and they’re bringing hope and potential and opportunity where there is tons of potential. For me, and I think for Raine and I think for his band, too, War Child is so tried and true. And with their administrative costs being so low and their work being so effective, how can we not stay in forever and honour what they are doing every day, which is absolutely incredible work. We’re so honoured to be a part.

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Brief Take