Are so Random, In a Good Way

by Cheryl Thompson

Kristen Cudmore, the voice of Language Arts, truly has a zest for life. The Vancouver-based singer has done a lot in a very short time.

Though Language-Arts are mostly thought of as a duo – Kristen on vocals and Gregor Phillips on drums – Cudmore says it’s an ever-changing group effort.

“It’s weird because the group has been kind of floating it’s always been kind of me heading the operation and for so long I was in denial of that,” she says.

“Gregor and I are still playing together it’s just that after the tour it’s like we have to think about whether we write more and what we’re going to do next. It’s exciting but at the same time we’re just kind of going show by show. It’s like when you meet a new performer you don’t want to be married right away.”

Cudmore’s story is a quirky and unscripted one, kind of like her live performances. Born in Nova Scotia, she had a plan to attend the University of Hawaii then, at the last minute, had Visa issues. Instead of staying put, she decided to take the flight to Vancouver as planned and has never looked back.

Language-Arts’ sophomore release, “Where Were You in the Wild?” is a very random album. As a follow up to 2007’s self titled debut, the disc is what happens when indie pop meets hip-hop meets folk. The duo’s name is as eclectic as their music. “Yeah, that’s sort of the point,” asserts Cudmore.

“I was seriously just hanging out with a friend of mine and I was telling her I need to think of a good band name and we were talking about our language arts class in our elementary school and how it was really fun because half the time you would get to see puppet shows and plays and musicians and stuff. We’d sit in the auditorium and I would think it the sweetest class. And so it seemed really fitting for our music so why not try that name.”

For Cudmore, it’s all about the live performance. People have referred to her vocals as a hybrid of singing, acting and rapping, and some people have gone as far as to call it “pixie rap”. Whatever the tag, she lives for performing.

“I love the live performance for interacting more with people who have come out to see you play and you just get a sense of who is listening to your music and you see the potential impact, negative or positive, your music has. And luckily for us it’s been positive so we’re really happy when we play because people are very warm and nice and they’ll come up and say hi and it’s just a really nice experience.”

With just two albums under their belt, Language-Arts are not unlike other Canadian indie bands – they still have day jobs. While she’s been teaching guitar for years, Cudmore says she’s now focused on doing music full-time.

“I just want to be true to myself and just allow what I’m trying to do to come out indefinitely I guess and see how it goes. It’s really scary because you don’t have the secure pay check coming in but at the same time your music can also become that.”

Ultimately, Cudmore is the driving force behind Language-Arts. But she is most inspired by her deep connection to music. “Sometimes when I listen to music I just feel this overwhelming pull inside my body,” she explains.

“You can’t put it into words and that’s just such an amazing experience you have with music when that happens. That would be the most honour I could achieve if someone walked away with that kind of feeling.”

Language-Arts play Funky Winker Beans in Vancouver on June 25.