By May Domingo, March 2 2020 —
Hotel Mira, formerly known as JPNSGRLS, took the Vancouver music scene by storm when they formed in 2010. Gaining the number 13 spot in Billboard Canada’s Alt-rock charts with their beautifully-written songs is just one of the many successes they have achieved. They will be bringing their theatrical energy to Calgary with a showat the Gateway on March 27. The Gauntlet spoke with the band’s frontman, Charlie Kerr, before they performed their first concert of the tour and we talked about their new album, finding one’s identity and the psychological condition of perfectionism.
The band maintained their classic alternative sound through the flairs of Charlie Kerr, Colton Lauro and Mike Nobles while incorporating the talent of Grammy-Award winning producer, Eric Ratz, as well as adding Clark Grieve and Cole George to the band.
“He’s [Ratz] amazing and has got a really good ear for what I can improve in a song,” Kerr says. “It didn’t really feel like they [Grieve and George] were a new addition, they’re both incredibly talented.”
The new album provided the genre a fresh mix of background chants and an 80s funk feel that will satisfy old fans and new.
Perfectionism is an album filled with the band’s commentary on heartbreak and, as the album title suggests, perfectionism. Fittingly, it was released on Valentine’s Day.
“I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day and what it stood for. It was cool to do something that I thought could be utilized for people who felt lonely that day, that they get a record to listen to instead of a diamond ring or some shit,” Kerr says.
It is a record that must be heard. One of my personal favourites, “Better on Your Own” was explained to be a four-minute song encompassing his shame, feeling of inadequacy and struggle to feel grateful.
“That conditioning was kind of fascinating to me and it was kind of this thing that I found both in my professional and personal life,” Kerr says. “My perfectionism was kind of damaging things that were important to me and when I started writing about it, there was so much to unpack and so much that I think is really, really universal about it,”
Kerr explains that this has inspired him to continue writing and be more outspoken, especially in this new album.
“If something really fucked up is going on in the world, I’m gonna want to explore that in writing for whatever reason and if something really good is going on societally, I’d like to put a megaphone up to that as well,” Kerr says.
He found songwriting to be a compulsion. This is apparent even in their previous works like Bullied For You, Brandon, and Mushroom. Gathering insight from his experiences, the movies he watched (Boys Don’t Cry is an inspiration to Brandon), and the stories he hears from his friends who are women, the band was able to put out songs that inspire others and bring awareness to important issues. “Overall, I think it was just really important, growing up, to value empathy and put yourself in other people’s shoes. So, there was never really a second thought in terms of identifying with and supporting those who have been marginalized,” Kerr says.
His identity as a Cree Métis also plays a part in his activism through songwriting.
“I think it’s a very gradual process, in general, to become accepting and okay with your identity because of the various stigma that we internalize over the years,” Kerr says. “I got comfortable with the fact that I was uncomfortable about my identity.”
His thought-provoking responses during the interview are no different from his honest lyrics throughout the album and the rest of his previous works. Kerr understands that it’s always scary to release a part of himself in a song that millions will hear but he wants to motivate others.
“Dig deep and try to communicate and express something that might be tied up in shame, fear and guilt,” he says. “This might sound controversial, but music isn’t everything. There are elements of your life that you should be taking care of that aren’t predicated by your success as a musician.”
Noticing that hard work seems to be the one thing that makes a difference in one’s career, he wants to encourage those wanting to pursue music.
“Continue doing it because you love it because everything else is so far from guaranteed,” he says.
Kerr hopes he can one day reach the point of perfection.
“I hope so. That’s kind of the goal. We’ll see. It seems pretty ingrained in me to just be overly critical. As much as I can chip away at that, I also have to have some self-acceptance in terms of that,” Kerr says.
Perhaps that is the first step to success. Undoubtedly, Hotel Mira is climbing towards that point.
His passion, as well as the band’s, is manifested in the concerts they perform. They are a definite must-see act. You will be able to witness Hotel Mira on March 27 at The Gateway on the SAIT campus. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. Online tickets start at $14.95. Instead of being one of the 102,744 monthly listeners on Spotify, go out and experience one of the wildest concerts you may ever encounter.