Language Arts builds songs from bad times

by Craig Silliphant


musicLanguage Arts
McNally’s Tavern
Wednesday 11

It sucks, but it’s often true: great art comes from serious sadness.

“I went through a big break-up,” says Kristen Cudmore of Toronto’s Language Arts. “The biggest break-up I’ve ever been through.”

Cudmore’s relationship woes provided the impetus for her to move to Toronto and write Wonderkind, her debut album. But her personal tragedies didn’t end there; while she was recording the album, one of her best friends passed away and another went missing.

“It’s still hard to think about,” she says. “Wonderkind was kind of built up while all this was happening.”

Language Arts is a unique amalgam of classical influence poured over modern sounds and ideas. Cudmore is a classically trained guitarist, and her bandmates (including Saskatoon expatriate Soren Nissen) are also accomplished musicians. They employ their skills in a modern context, searching for emotions in songs that will pull listeners in.

“What makes a song good isn’t the chord progression and the melody,” says Cudmore. “It’s, ‘how does it make you feel? What textures are in there? What’s the message?’ This is about the music and the experience, not about me getting better as a musician by trying some hard technique on the guitar.”

Cudmore channeled her emotions into the music during those hard times, and while no one should suggest loss makes one stronger or better (it can easily do the opposite), it can help music and art come alive with depth and realism.

But Wonderkind isn’t a total downbeat dirge-fest; Cudmore is a sweet, upbeat person, and her personality is reflected in her music.

“I don’t want to depress people,” she says. “I want people to feel happy and inspired. So much can happen in a lifetime.”