Playing It By Ear

Megan Boddy’s band-ography reads like a who’s who of local talent

Megan Boddy's unbound energy is indeed superhuman

Megan Boddy’s band-ography reads like a who’s who of local talent

Megan Boddy is the axis upon which Victoria’s bustling and highly regarded music scene frantically spins. Her band-ography reads like a who’s who of local talent. Currently, Boddy lends her voice, and wide range of musical ability, to groups as multifarious as Frog Eyes, Chet, David P. Smith’s Euphorians, The Pine Family, Blackout Beach, Himalayan Bear, and most recently Kathryn Calder’s (of New Pornographers fame) new solo project.  This is not to mention Boddy’s appearances on albums by Vancouver’s Pink Mountaintops, with whom she toured the U.S., and several others.

Boddy’s unbounded energy is indeed superhuman. As Hank Pine says of his sometime band mate, “Megan must have the ability to stop time. That is the only way she could be in so many bands and look so good all the time.” But in spite of Boddy’s prolific musical output, she is extremely selective of the groups she joins.

“The people I play with are all people I am very comfortable with.” Boddy says, “They are fun and collaborative.  These are some of the criteria I’ve developed to sort of narrow it down. All the groups are challenging in different ways, but it feels well rounded. I’ve chosen to play with them because they don’t really sound like anyone else. With these groups, you’re just trying to find your place in this really unique sort of energy. That’s the interesting part; otherwise, I think it would be exhausting.”

Boddy’s musical connections developed almost magically

While Boddy has set firm roots down in Victoria, she is not a native to the Island. Megan grew up in Smithers (as evidenced by the way she lingers on her “r’s”), before coming to Victoria by way of Sacramento, where she worked various jobs at Tower Records, Tower Books and sometimes even as a cocktail waitress. Curiously enough, Boddy refrained from playing music during her residence in sunny California, waiting until she moved to Victoria from a post-9/11 America for her musical talents to fully blossom.

“Politically, living in the States was brutal,” Boddy says. “I left a month after 9/11. There was that whole election that Bush stole, and everyone was just so depressed. We were devastated. I mean, you get the idea that it is an incredibly corrupt place, but then something like that happens and it is just such a smack in the face … I wouldn’t want to live there again, but I appreciate my time there.”

Upon moving to Victoria, Boddy’s musical connections developed almost magically. Things came together for her here in ways she’d never really expected, much less initiated. When asked why she chose to pursue music in Victoria, Boddy’s response was curiously vague, while profoundly local.

“Well, I didn’t really choose to pursue music here. I just moved here after the States as an alternative to Vancouver, and things kind of just took over. I had no intention … I don’t really understand, well, I sort of do … but yeah: it took over.

“I do like it here,” she continues. “Canada, musically speaking, is pretty small, so once you meet some people and play with people, it doesn’t really matter where you are … this is a really great musical community: it is small, and there’s not a lot of places to play, but there’s a lot of great musicians here, so you end up playing with people you would never even meet if you were pursuing a specific thing in an epicentre like Montreal. You wouldn’t be playing country one night, and crazy indie rock the next … people get thrown together here.”

Boddy’s participation in a variety of musical acts has led to her learning several musical instruments. She has recently taught herself to play the viola, and is also proficient at accordion, guitar, ukulele and flute. Her first instrument being the piano, Boddy plays keyboards (bass and regular) as well as the organ, and she plays a “mean tambourine.” She embodies entire symphonies.

“There is something to be said for somebody who plunks themselves down and learns something incredibly well … becomes a master at it, but if you’re doing what I’m doing that is probably not likely,” Boddy says with her characteristic grace and humility. “But at the same time, you learn different things from different people … I’m not worried about becoming a master at anything.”

When Boddy’s not on stage, band practice or her day job at a local art supply shop, you’ll most likely find her behind a book. A ravenous reader since childhood, Boddy has been reading a lot of science fiction lately.  Her shelves are filled with the works of Angela Carter, Neal Stephenson, Anne Carson, Muriel Spark and Christian Bok, just to name a few. With everything she has on the go, one is forced to wonder if she ever plans to do a solo project. Boddy has done some solo work in the past, and while she stopped short of ruling out the possibility of doing it again, she emphasizes, with a painting metaphor, how much she thrives in her current role.

“I prefer to sing and play with people because I’m secure in my voice and playing style, which is not dazzling, or flashy, or cutting. I’m not a belter or a shredder. Trying to force my playing into those roles would diminish it. I’m dependable and pleasant, and for now I’m happiest in my place, highlighting something, like white paint.”

And we Victorians are most fortunate to look on as Boddy quietly goes about adding her polish, texture and humility to every project she takes on, turning white paint into luminous gold. M

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