Walk Off The Earth Storms Montreal International Jazz Festival
When Sarah Blackwood takes the stage at the Montreal International Jazz Festival on Tuesday night, she will be performing for two — again.
The seemingly perpetually-pregnant Walk Off The Earth singer is expecting her third child with bandmate Gianni Nicassio.
“Thank you for reminding me of that,” Blackwood said with a laugh.
Is she populating the next generation of Walk Off The Earth? “No, it just happens to happen more often than not,” she said.
Blackwood’s water broke while the band was shooting the 2015 video for their cover of The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face” with Scott Helman.
“I was in labour,” she recalled. “Scott Helman’s face was pretty priceless, though, because he was like 19 and asking, ‘what do we do?!’
“It was the second time it was happening for me so I knew I was going to have at least a couple of hours so I was like, ‘well, we can try it and if I start to go into the primal part of things I’ll just not be in the video anymore.'"
Walk Off The Earth storms the big outdoor stage in Montreal for a free show only days after celebrating Canada Day on Parliament Hill, where they performed Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.”
Nicassio said weather conditions meant the group was only allowed to play that one song instead of the five it planned to do. “So it didn’t give us a chance to connect so much with the people there,” he recalled.
Connecting with people is something Walk Off The Earth does really well. The Ontario-based band became a viral sensation thanks to its innovative YouTube videos, in which they performed covers of popular songs using a variety of instruments and objects.
“People really kind of connect to that on the level where they realize that it’s actually not as hard as everybody thinks it is,” said Blackwood. “I think that’s why a lot of people really connect with us because they’re like, ‘Oh, cool. If we just put out some pots and pans and a couple of other things we can actually create a song and it’s not like an expensive guitar or takes a whole bunch of talent.’
“It does take some practice though.”
Blackwood says live shows — which include covers and original songs — enable Walk Off The Earth to give fans a truly unique experience.
“We really didn’t want it to be like you were just going to the show and listening to the record. There was actually an experience happening,” she explained at an afternoon press conference.
“The bigger we got, the more money we spent on production and we really thrive on that. We’re willing to put a lot more of ourselves and our own finances into our stage because we just really want to put on an amazing show for people.
“We want it to be unforgettable.”
Walk Off The Earth performs July 11 in Calgary before heading to Europe and Australia.
Picking the right songs to cover takes some thought.
“There’s usually three or four, maybe five of those a year, maybe,” said Blackwood. “You know if Ed Sheeran’s going to put out a song or if Adele is going to put out a record after seven years…you kind of know which ones are going to be the big ones.”
Nicassio noted that a number of artists who have been covered by Walk Off The Earth have reached out to the band.
“Taylor Swift tweeted, Gotye wrote us an email saying congrats,” he recalled. “It’s really cool when that happens. It’s exciting.
“There’s actually been some artists who reached out to us to ask if we would cover their songs.”
Blackwood, who recently recorded one for Keith Urban, said they got a request from Coldplay, but the “timing didn’t work out.”
The soon-to-be parents of three kids have also pondered putting together a collection of children’s songs — someday.
“We’re generally so busy all the time and we’re the type of band that we don’t ever want to take a break and fall off the map. We’re consistently working and working and working,” explained Blackwood. “Right now we’re really focused on working on our band and our music and we have tons of original stuff coming out. That’s really our focus right now but we know that children love our stuff.
“We know that it’s an avenue that we want to touch on and get into, but it’s just timing.”