For Winnipeg musician J. Riley Hill the pursuit of music has been something he has long aspired too.
“When I was kid I always used to get my friend to bring his dads tape recorder over so we could record ‘albums’,” he told Yorkton This Week. “It was mostly just us yelling into the tape recorder, but I would still always think about it. I always wanted to make music since I was a kid, though I never had the discipline to learn an instrument till high school.
“Once I learned how to play a guitar I joined a band and started writing and singing, and then once I learned to record I started playing all the instruments myself in shutting myself up in the basement working on music constantly.
“I like to play music with other people, but I really love to be in the studio alone, and be able to tinker with everything as much as I want, that’s what this latest album was all about, taking my time to do everything.”
Hill, who will perform at 5th Avenue Cup and Saucer in Yorkton Nov. 29, said over time his music evolved.
“When I started playing music I wanted to be a shred guitar player, lead guitar, metal all that stuff,” he said. “When I first started a band I was all about grunge and punk.
“It was pretty funny because metal and shred guitar is super complex and all about theory and then when I got into grunge it was like going backwards technique wise.
“I was really obsessed with the fashion aspect of grunge when I was teenager. Simplicity as a statement that sort of thing.
“Eventually I got over that and just started playing and listening to whatever music I found interesting, which was pretty much the opposite of before, country pop, soul, that is where I’m at now.”
It is a style which has kept Hill on the road of late.
“I’ve been across Canada playing shows many times now,” he said, adding highlights are “hard to pick. There has been a lot of good shows. I love playing small folk festivals, and I love playing the Times Change High and Lonesome Club in Winnipeg.”
Along the way Hill has found time to record, a process he has fallen in love with.
“The year before the release of this album I did a project where I recorded an album a week for seven weeks straight,” he said. “It was a crazy creative process, where a lot of ideas got thrown down.
“Each album was around 20-minutes long and I released them on my website.”
The latest effort is a more refined effort.
“This new album was the opposite sort of process,” said Hill. “I spent countless hours on each track, and each instrument, making sure everything was precisely in its place.
“I played every instrument on this record, ‘cus I’m a total control freak.
“But now that it’s released, I feel okay about having a band and teaching them the parts.”
As for material Hill said the new disk is gleaned from earlier efforts.
“I used to independently release a lot of albums, and I suppose this album is sort of a best of those old recordings, taking all my favorite songs and making sure the production was up to par,” he said.
Hill did add he takes a somewhat unusual approach to laying down vocal tracks.
“I like to record vocals in weird places, anywhere I can take my computer and be alone,” He said. “Some of the vocals were recorded in a car parked near a forest that I like to go to.
“I worked on this album for around a year, but it’s really a culmination of four years of work, I’m really proud of it … I’m very happy with the results, it’s the first project I’ve worked on that I really felt was complete.”