It’s something one associates with top athletes. It’s synonymous with success in the white collar world—Wall Street, top legal minds, Donald Trump.
When one thinks about musicians, though, lifelong practise or not, single-minded determination just isn’t something our pop cultural experience wants to tie to the guy playing the piano.
Unless it’s Royal Wood.
“I was four when I started playing piano and this was it. This was what I wanted to do,” said Wood, in an interview to plug his upcoming Kelowna gig.
Wood is billed as the well-dressed guy on the Canadian singer-songwriter scene. Named iTunes’ Songwriter of the Year with song placements in Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, he came very close to being named songwriter of the year at the Junos last month—though he couldn’t top Arcade Fire’s blockbuster run.
The French Canadian band that’s swept the North American music scene this year winning the Juno and Album of the Year at the Grammys—to the surprise of many an American counterpart—were not the first from Montreal to stomp on this Ontario native’s heart.
There’s a very funny story on an online blog about a whiny French Canadian girl he once asked on a date only to discover she could see nothing positive about the evening they spent out. (Google Mike’s Bloggity Blog)
If the goofy story tells us anything about this man, it’s that he clearly takes getting his name out there as seriously as he takes playing music—and he’s well-known for his professionalism.
He takes to the stage in a suit and tie, saying his body just knows it’s time to perform when he’s dressed to the nines. “I feel I change into a super hero on stage with that suit on,” he says. “My parents taught us that you dress for the company. You had to be home for Sunday dinner and you dressed up.”
His mother, reportedly has stacks of his old report cards in which he always checked off musician when asked what he would like to be when he grew up. Dreaming of becoming The Beatles even as he rode his bike around the neighbourhood gave him a jump on most kids as he tried to build a path to success. The only self-doubt he can recall is wondering whether he was going about it all the right way.
“I worked some soul sucking jobs,” he said, noting he spent five years with a foreign exchange company because it offered the nine to five setting he needed to support his musical habits at night. But even then he would do interviews during his lunch in the boardroom.
Finding his style was equally trying.
“I played rock music in high school. I played jazz…one day I just started writing songs and I haven’t really looked back,” he said.
Making it in music eventually means you get to start picking your own band, playing the concert halls where the talent hits the stage nine-feet above the audience’s head. While there’s a certain thrill to the big venue, like when he played the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto or Massey Hall for the Juno Songwriter Circle last month, he’s looking forward to the more intimate setting his stop at Kelowna’s Minstrel Café will offer.
“Because of the size of a lot of the venues, it works better as sort of a storyteller night,” he said.
Wood plays the Minstrel Saturday, April 9.