CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —
Dylan Menzie didn’t want listeners to get the wrong impression. His 2020 record, Lost in Dreams, contains a variety of musical styles.
So, to keep audiences guessing while giving them a feel of what was to come, he released the album in pieces.
“There was a couple different faces of the record,” Menzie said. “I thought there was more of a pop side of things and a folkier side of things, and I didn’t want somebody to hear the first song on the record and think they know exactly what the whole record is going to be.”
Menzie won the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year Award today at the Credit Union Music P.E.I. Awards.
He was nominated alongside artists Kinley, Logan Richard, Rachel Beck and Catherine MacLellan. They all performed as part of a song circle hosted by CBC’s Matt Rainnie at the Delta Hotel on Saturday. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the circle was more of a spaced-out line than a circle, but Menzie was just happy to be back on stage.
“It feels amazing. I love playing music for people,” he said. “When I write songs, sometimes I imagine I’m playing them for a room full of people. And so this is exactly what I imagined, except for everybody was closer together in my imagination.”
On stage, Menzie talked about his songwriting process.
“Generally speaking they all started on guitar or piano, and then change a lot in the production, change a lot in the writing of it, and the playing of it live,” he said.
He makes those changes based on things like audience reaction and how the song makes him feel.
“I’ll play a song totally changed from one night to the next,” he said.
Menzie admitted his last release, which came in the pandemic, wasn’t ideal.
“It wasn’t great. I’ve had better releases.”
But the pandemic hasn’t stopped the songwriter from writing songs.
“In the past six months, I’ve written a lot. I find I’m very creative these days,” he said.
And that’s what Menzie played Saturday—all new songs.
“I don’t have any CDs for sale—well, any of my new CDs for sale, so I thought, what’s the difference, I’ll just play all new songs.”
The other 30 awards will be presented tomorrow. Menzie is nominated for five.
In addition to the more visible artist awards, tomorrow will feature six Board Awards selected by the Music P.E.I. board of directors. Those include Educator of the Year, Industry Person of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Rooted to the Island, Live Music Production Professional of the year, and Community Contributor of the Year.
The five genre awards are voted on by Music P.E.I. members, while the Entertainer of the Year is selected by public vote.
All other awards are determined by juries of industry professionals.
The 2021 Credit Union Music P.E.I. awards were supposed to be March 4-7, but had to reschedule because of COVID-19 circuit breaker measures.
Logan MacLean is The Guardian’s weekend reporter