Lynne Hanson, Lynn Miles join forces to make a new album as The LYNNeS

Lynne Hanson and Lynn Miles, together they are The LYNNeS. They play NAC Presents in 2018. Photo: Brittany Gawley

Lynne Hanson and Lynn Miles go back a ways.

“Lynn sang on my first album Things I Miss (2006),” Hanson said in an interview.

Miles was already a very successful singer-songwriter and Hanson was just really getting rolling so for Lynne Hanson that first recording project was “a scary thing.” But afterwards, “we became friends. I did some support shows with her. She was mentoring me and helping me out quite a bit.”

They have worked more closely together over time. By 2014, Hanson was putting out her album River of Sand and Miles was producing that disc.

“I made a bit of a shift in terms of my songwriting in River of Sand. Lynn said to me ‘You have got to write the truth. You hide behind your work a little bit’.

“You hear that a lot from songwriters like Mary Gauthier … you know they are trying to write capital ‘T’ truth. It can be hard as an artist, you really expose yourself when you do that.” But she did it and she calls that breakthrough the most important lesson she’s ever learned about songwriting.

“Just before River of Sand, I had brought these songs to Lynn. It was aways organic between me and her. We were sitting around and I said ‘You’re giving me all this input on my songs. She said, ‘It’s kind of the role of producer’.

“I looked at her and she looked at me and said ‘I could produce this record for you.’

Miles also produced the next album 7 Deadly Spins, “my murder record,” Hanson says. She did choose another producer to work with for her latest release Uneven Ground (2017). Still Lynn and Lynne did three “co-writes” on the record.

The duo have become so connected that “every time we walk around together, in Ottawa or at some industry thing, people go ‘Oh, it’s the LYNNeS.’ It has just kind of stuck.”

So the next logical step was to record an album together and tour it.

“It’s a really organic thing,” Hanson said, adding, “I’m probably more responsible for putting a shovel in the dirt and saying ‘Let’s book studio time’ before we’ve written a song. ‘Let’s book a tour’ before we have the record. That tends to be the way I do things. I put the posts in the ground and just race for them.”

On Aug. 18 they’ll be in Dave Draves’ Little Bullhorn studio in Ottawa laying down some tracks.

They’ve also started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the record. They hope to raise $20,000 to pay for recording time, musicians and cover art for the record. As of Tuesday, they had raised $6,473 with 30 days left. But Hanson says they’ll go ahead even if the campaign doesn’t meet it’s target.

“We’re doing it. The dates are booked in England and we’re already talking about Ontario and Canada. There is no stopping this thing.”

Hanson is enjoying the new playing field she occupies with Miles.

“It’s a neat thing for me to see the circle close. We have equal input. We are sitting down as equals, as peers.”

Neither woman is a shrinking violet, but they are figuring out this collaboration between two strong musical personalities.

“There is a method to co-writing. Typically one writer has the idea and brings the idea in,” Hanson says. How well the idea is formed “will determine how active the collaboration is going to be. Sometimes it’s a shove or a nudge; the perfect line here or the perfect bridge there. And sometimes you are literally exchanging line for line.

“One of neat things that happens when you work with other artists is you are forever marked by way they move and think musically. You can’t undo the influence. I think it’s a really cool thing.

“We do a lot of writing at her place because she has a piano, but we also write with a guitar too. That’s how I write.” Hanson also prepares charts and MP3s for the musicians who will join them in the studio. It gives them a rough foundation to work with.

“I think you become a better artist when you work with someone else. When you get to be with other songwriters it can really push you outside your own comfort zone.

“(For example) I never write bridges in my songs and Lynn Miles is the queen of the bridge. Now I am incorporating movement into songs. Chords are making their way into my writing. … It’s interesting that I hear that now. You do get influenced by the people you hang out with.”

You also learn how to compromise, Hanson says.

“You have to compromise when you really think you are right which is really hard to do. I may have a really strong opinion about something, but I have to listen to the other person. It wasn’t easy to learn mostly because I’m a bit of a hot head.”

She says she’s learned how to listen and not speak first. It helps her in dealing with her own band mates.

“It makes me a better band leader.”

That spirit of compromise seems to be surfacing on the tentative title for the release.

“I think I know what we will call it. One of the songs is called Heartbreak Song for the Radio. That’s in the lead right now. I think she likes the idea so I’d be surprised if we wouldn’t go with that.

The studio is booked from Aug. 18 to 28, but “if it runs over by a week that’s OK.” The CD needs to be ready by November, however, to give the publicist they are using overseas time to start promoting the tour which begins Feb. 21. These days it’s easier, quicker and cheaper to set up dates across the ocean. While the U.S. is still a target market, the LYNNeS both know it’s harder to get organized.

“The States can be really difficult,” Hanson says. It can take up to four months to get a work visa.

Hanson has been going to England, for example, since 2009. In fact she’ll be back in Europe again in the fall of 2018 with her own band The Good Intentions with Uneven Ground.

It’s all part of the business of being Lynne Hanson, singer-songwriter.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.