Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Interview: Lori Paradis of Sulfur City

Recently, I became acutely aware of Sulfur City. They are presently riding the wave of their debut record being released on Alive-Natural Sound.

There were a lot of things I really liked about this band, but what struck me was something a bit different than just it's the first female fronted band on the label...check it out!

Glacially Musical: Thank you for taking a little time for me today.

Lori Paradis: My pleasure, Nik.

GM: There are a few very obvious influences, but who influenced or inspired you that would surprise us?

LP: Nina Simone is very inspirational to me and everything about her floors me. Also Ani DiFranco because she’s not afraid to speak her mind and her music is amazing. 

Another influence is Ben Harper for the way he experiments in different styles of music and the way he lets go emotionally in a song.

GM: What caught my eye when I was receiving PR emails about Sulfur City, it wasn't the fact that you're a female fronted band on Alive-Naturalsound that caught my eye, but the fact that you play the electric washboard. 

What the hell is that all about?

LP: Yea, it’s one of those things I didn’t set out to do but I’m real glad it happened. 

I come from playing the drums in a Delta blues band where they wanted to include the washboard and so they bought me an old acoustic one. After teaching myself how to play I started to experiment and thought if I could electrify it I could have more options. 

A band I was following, The North Mississippi Allstars, their drummer, Cody Dickinson, also played a board and after one of their shows we chatted about electrifying our boards. 

Not long after Cody hooked up with Saint Blues Guitar Workshop and they developed the Woogie Board. It’s solid Mahogany with enclosed dual-Piezo pickups, three-way switch, and volume knob all housed in a tele control plate built into the leg. 

Right now my pedal board has BBE wah pedal, Holy grail reverb and Aqua puss delay pedal. 

I also wear black silk gloves that I’ve taped fingerpicks to because the picks used to fly off my fingers when I was playing and I couldn’t stop. It would kill my fingers. 

The board is so much fun to play, I can play it traditionally like in the song on our album “Sold” or I’ve jammed it heavy like when we cover Rage Against The Machine. 

Most people are amazed and very curious about the Woogie Board when they see us play live.

GM: Since I brought it up, let's talk about being a woman in rock and blues. 

LP: Right now in Canada the trend in music seems to flow along folk rock, singer/songwriter and pop and most females I hear on popular stations or at festivals and bars tend to be frail. I’m far from frail. 

Rock and blues, rock and roll... it fits my personality. 

Aggressive music with passion and emotional flavours, music that speaks politically, is engaged in the social landscape, music that is not afraid. As a woman I am more then a love song or a broken heart.

GM: I like to think of our friends to the North to be a bit more progressive than we are here in the States. Do you think it was easier coming up in Ontario rather than say, Texas?

LP: I believe any place can be difficult or joyous. 

I was fortunate to be raised in a very open minded family where we talked about everything and my sisters and myself we’re exposed to all kinds of music, books and art. 

We were encouraged and supported in our interests. And yet across the street a very different scenario could be found. 

I would like to believe that every country has the possibilities of loving supportive families and that the powers at hand recognize that we are families first and nations second.

GM: As you're a former trucker, I picture this moment when you're about 45 miles (72.45 KM) outside of Saskatoon where you just look at the bunk in the back of the tractor and just say, the hell with this. I've got things to say and I'm going to do it.

How far off the mark am I here?

LP: A bit off the mark. That decision of saying ‘the hell with this and I’ve got something to say’ was when I lost my apartment (evicted) and the job I was working at decided to pull the plug overnight leaving me completely broke. 

Both things happened within a few hours of each other. That night I decided I was going to follow my heart and passion and speak my mind. 

I came to the realization that at any moment everything can be taken away, so it’s better to live the life I wanted rather then the one I thought I should be living. It’s easy to get caught up in false ideas of needs, wants, desires and necessities.

GM: One of my favorite questions to ask....what are the five most important albums of all time?

LP: That’s a very difficult question because there are so many great albums and trying to decide on just five is a hard thing to do. Here is my stab at it:

King of the Delta Blues Singers by Robert Johnson

Go Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley

Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan

Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix

Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin

GM: I love the sound of Talking Loud, both the production and the tone. Where did the inspiration come from?

LP: I believe in the rawness of humanity and wanted that to come through on the album both with how the album was recorded to the content and tone of the songs.

GM: What else do we need to know about Lori Paradis and Sulfur City?

LP: Well, I’m quite goofy and the rest of the guys in the band are not far behind on (that).

Though they would probably disagree on that. 

And if anyone wants to shoot me an email and ask anything, I’m always up for it. I like getting to know people and hear their stories.

GM: Thanks again!

LP: It was great chatting with you, Nik.


  1. Another great look inside a band and a performer, thanks for sharing, Nik! Love the idea of that electric washboard, definitely checking out Sulfur City

    1. I have it on Ltd Ed colored vinyl...because I'm that guy.