Health issues, money issues, relationship issues—like so many people her age, Nelson musician Rhoneil was dealing with all of them at once. At times it almost seemed like too much. That’s when she started taking monthly hikes to reconnect with nature.
“There were a lot of discordances in my life two years ago, health being the main one, and I couldn’t find much of a solution within what the culture was offering me. So I started looking into nature for solutions,” she told the Star after releasing her third album Nature // Cosmos.
“At that point I wasn’t even writing songs, I was just doing these hikes—and then it came to me that a solution to all these discordances would be to align myself with the natural rhythms and live in that way.”
During these long sojourns it occurred to her that she could channel the energy she was receiving from her environment into her work.
“I had the vision that I could do this record and live this way. I could write one song per lunar cycle and make this into my life work. So instead of doing my art in addition to everything else in my life, this could be my life for a year, a year and a half.”
But she needed money. And that’s where the Columbia Basin Trust and the Central Kootenay Cultural Alliance came in. They approved her for major project grant funding.
“I started the process in June of 2015 on the first solstice, and brought it to a close about a year later. I did about twelve and a half lunar cycles before I started taking it out and performing it.”
One of the first places she tested out her new material was at the Tiny Lights Festival, where she played multiple sets in a church venue that suited her ethereal, experimental sound. She then took her act to the KAMP Festival, and on Friday she will perform a live audio/video performance and artist talk at Oxygen Art Centre.
“The writing was like all the things that go on with plants underground or in the seed and nobody sees it. Sometimes it seems like nothing’s happening. There was a lot of solitude and work, but now I’ve reached the point where I’m coming into performance and it was like the flower was blooming.”
This is Rhoneil’s third solo album after producing two with other acts.
“I’m at an interesting place because this is my third solo album and there were a lot of firsts for me. This was the first time I took complete creative control of the producing, the mixing, the recording and the composing of all the songs and the majority of the instrumentation.”
But that was necessary, according to her.
“I did collaborate on two songs with Robert Livingood, but with the process I was going through…it’s difficult for one person to work creatively in that way, can you imagine coordinating a bunch of people to do all that? I knew if I wanted to go deeply into that process I would need to do it primarily on my own.”
And she believes she’s learned valuable lessons.
“I know I’m of nature, and I know nature has this system. It seems to smooth out discordances and lead to abundance and beauty. On my hikes I would sit there and try to feel how I’m a part of it.”