Lesley Pike is a firm believer in the power of music. "The reason we write songs is because people need music, because it means something. It communicates in a way nothing else can."
Pike’s love of music became apparent very early. With a financial advisor mother and accountant father, her family background may not have suggested music as her most likely future vocation, but Pike explains; "my dad just really loves music. We'd go out driving in our lime-green station wagon, singing along to the music blaring from the speakers. We’d have a family air band in the backseat, with me and my sisters." Her eclectic early influences came from a wildly varying musical repertoire including Tori Amos, Annie Lennox, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, and Peter Gabriel.
Piano lessons began at age seven in her hometown of Wingham, ON, followed by vocal studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the completion of her B Hons in Classical Music at Wilfrid Laurier University. And, while Pike’s academic background is impressive, her voice and music are completely natural and heartfelt, not technical.
Having cut her teeth as an independent artist in Toronto, Pike remains a popular and respected member of the city's vibrant music scene, but has found herself embraced by major cities around the world. Through a combination of hard work, talent, and some fortuitous connections, Pike now feels welcomed in the musical communities of four crucial music hubs: Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and London. After noted American recording artist Jason Mraz invited her to join him on a number of dates, he helped introduce her into the L.A. music community. "Some of those people became my closest friends, and L.A. has become like a second home," says Pike.
Past forays to the U.K. proved to be highly productive. A partnership with Gibson Guitars saw Pike chosen as the featured artist for Robert Redford’s “Sundance Film Fesitval at the O2” in London in 2013 and 2014. There, she performed a riveting set, aided by the able accompaniment of ace guitarist/producer/songwriter and fellow Torontonian, the now London-based James Bryan (Philosopher Kings, Nelly Furtado, Nikki Yanofsky, Lisa Marie Presley), with whom she connected with via a mutual friend in Toronto.
Pike and Bryan clicked instantly. "We hit it off straight away, jamming on her songs for the gig," Bryan recalls. "After the rehearsal, Lesley mentioned wanting to record some of the songs and I jumped at the chance to make an EP with her." This was the catalyst to Pike’s forthcoming album “NOVEMBER” set for release at the end of July (2015).
Within days they were in the studio together, working with some top-notch players Bryan had connections with, and Pike fell in love with the creative environment. Bryan explains; "Lesley came with her own songs that I loved, so my input was on the production and performing end - building the arrangements, instrumentation and sonic mood of the tracks."
The results are several of the fundamental tracks on “NOVEMBER”. Leading the way is the transformation of "White Lies,” one of the most popular cuts from Pike’s 2012 release “Tug of War” which received a beefed-up production sound while retaining an irresistible melody. On the flip side is the riveting “Ground Below”, with its spirit of defiance and hint of anger. “It's about a recent split with a manager,” says Pike, “and was also fueled by several years of colourful experiences within the music industry”. Lyrics like "I will grow my wings and you will still be face down on the ground" make this a song that can resonate on a wider level.
In describing her lyrical approach, Pike notes "the thing I connect with the most is human interaction, on all levels. I don't know how good I'd be at creating stories that didn't feel authentic to me. For me, the great thing about writing a song is that you can capture and share an experience.” This lyrical candour remains a signature of her work. Says Bryan; "her voice and those songs have a classic rootsy honesty about them that is distinctively Canadian, and that really drew me in and made me want to work with her."
No stranger to the music industry, Pike's 2003 debut album “Night Visions” scored glowing reviews and significant CBC airplay, while extensive touring across Canada included opening for acts as diverse as The Devlins, Pilate (Pilot Speed), Peter Elkas and Danny Michel.
The promise displayed on the debut disc was fulfilled with her next album, 2008's “Blink”. A much fuller effort sonically, it was produced by Bill Bell (Tom Cochrane, Jason Mraz), and featured an A-list cast of players. The material ranged from lush pop ballads like the single "Dreaming Back To Life" to the hauntingly tender title track to the jaunty country-rock inflected "A Million & One," establishing Pike as an artist who refuses to be constrained by genre barriers.
Pike went through an emotional roller coaster ride in the making of her third album “Tug of War”. It came out in May 2012, after a lengthy process that Pike depicts as "the most challenging experience of my life. It took three tries, three rounds of producers and three years to get that album from my heart to your ears.”
The arduous process was worth it in the end and saw Pike co-producing the final incarnation of “Tug of War” with acclaimed producers Tim Glasgow (Metric, Sonic Youth) and Juno winner Vincent Marcone (Johnny Hollow). Pike describes the thematic thread to all nine songs as "Desire, in all its fiery, primal and complicated glory." Her versatility as a vocalist and lyricist enabled the impassioned musician to do justice to all facets of the theme.
Having shared the stage with such notable acts as Joan Osborne, Matisyahu, Ari Hest, The Dunwells, Hawksley Workman, Pike is excited to showcase her music and honesty again with “NOVEMBER”