Teagan Johnston spent her last year of high school developing a plan for how she would return.
The 18-year-old singer-songwriter and former student of both Reynolds and Vic High schools spent much of her Grade 12 year writing songs for her freshly-pressed debut EP. The result: Winter’s Child, a disc heavily influenced by relationships – the kind she’d like to tackle with other young people.
“I’m quite into feminism and activism. I feel the need to talk to girls in high school about what they’re up against,” said Johnston, underlining the importance of relationships and female friendships.
“There are a lot of tough things that girls experience in high school that don’t get talked about. I do tackle some of those things in my songs.”
The classically trained Johnston has been playing the piano since she was five and dabbling in songwriting since the age of nine, with a focus on composition over the past four years. Though easily welcomed into Victoria’s music scene, moving her songs from private to public was a shift to which Johnston was particularly mindful.
“I’m almost self-conscious putting myself in (the scene) when it’s full of people I’ve looked up to.”
One of those people is Aidan Knight, who had influenced Johnston’s indie-folk sound, well before her voice teacher Anne Schaefer connected her with Colin Nealis, bass player for Knight. Nealis produced Winter’s Child, which features accompaniment from Knight and Steph MacPherson.
“It was super great to get involved with Steph MacPherson and Aidan because it felt like I was getting on the other side of something I’ve been looking at for a while,” Johnston said.
When Johnston chats about deciding on a whim to spend last summer busking on the streets of Montreal, how she’d take over street pianos or strum her ukulele or drop into open mics – it may not seem apparent that she’s working towards an ultimate goal. She is.
“I’ve known since I was in Grade 9 that I wanted to do writing and have a music career, so I’ve had a plan throughout my high school years of getting it together before I was done – to have something solidly recorded. It was really great in my last year to get done what I wanted to get done and to collaborate with people I’ve looked up to for quite some time. I’m trying to figure it out step by step.”
Johnston sends Winter’s Child out into the world Saturday, Nov. 2 at Fairfield United Church (1303 Fairfield) with Leisure Suit and Fintan O’Brian. Doors are at 7:30pm and tickets, $14, are available at Ditch Records (784 Fort).