Everyone in town knows Paris Pick. And if they don’t, she still catches their eye. Over the course of our hour-long interview with Pick on the patio of Wood Street Ramen, she says hello to too many passers-by to count. One older lady even shouts at Pick from the sidewalk that she loves Pick’s style.
While she’s grateful for the recognition, Pick admits she hasn’t quite gotten used to it yet. Despite the slight awkwardness she might feel, she has an air of humble confidence about her. She’s genuinely thrilled to have become a face of the local music scene.
“I feel like I get put on a pedestal,” she says. “But I don’t know why!”
The last few years have brought an upward trajectory for Pick, but nothing like her most recent explosion in popularity has happened before. Her most recent video, for the upcoming album’s title track, currently sits at more than 1,000 views on YouTube and has garnered attention from some of the most prominent music and entertainment media in Canada. Taking advantage of that attention, Pick is working on another video to release, along with a single for the song “I Can’t Help It,” which Pick calls a “romantic, sexy, love song.” She’s enlisted Dan Little to direct and hired a bunch of the dancers from local entertainment company Velvet Antler Productions to act in the video.
“It’s an all-girl slumber party,” she says. “We’re trying to make it like the scene from Grease. It’s gonna be hilarious.”
To summarize the video more succinctly, Pick says it’s “over-the-top.” This is a theme that permeates Pick’s new work, as she aims to embrace the larger-than-life pop star persona with which she’s become associated. She isn’t afraid to be a little risqué.
“Everyone in Toronto has videos with butts in them,” she says, laughing. “But in Whitehorse, no one has been so bold yet.”
Pick released her debut album, Feeling Love, in 2018 and toured across the country to support it. This was her first national tour, though she had played in B.C. before and done smaller western-Canadian runs. The “Falling in Love” tour, as it was dubbed, was a learning experience for Pick, who is confident that touring will start to get smoother from here.
“It takes a lot of communication to make it go well,” she says. “You can’t be vague.”
That isn’t to say she was ill-prepared, as she had a firm set of rules pertaining to cleanliness of the band van and communication between members for the duration of the trek. Pick had also learned that it’s crucial to team up with local artists to guarantee some draw in cities where her band might be strangers.
“My first tour I messed up and just booked a bunch of shows at random pubs, but I didn’t team up with any bands,” she says. “Then maybe people would be there, maybe they wouldn’t. Teaming up with other bands, you might make less money, but at least you’ll get a draw, even if they just bring five of their friends.”
Pick describes her earlier touring experiences before her cross-country expedition as “icky,” saying she wasn’t taking her job seriously enough. This time around, with an exhaustive amount of practical experience under her belt, there’s a sense that Pick now operates in a much more professional capacity, seeing her band as just as much a business as it is an artistic endeavour.
She’s been at the head of the creative process, writing the songs, conceptualizing the videos and acting as her band’s artistic director, but she’s also at the helm of the business side of things, filing grant applications, being her own manager and putting up a large sum of money to realize her vision with this project. At the same time, Pick has also taken a less DIY approach with this new record, signing to Ontario’s Care Records and hiring a publicist.
The recording process this time around was more enjoyable for Pick than her first record too, as she’s gained more confidence in her songwriting abilities and more assertiveness as a band leader. Pick and her band recorded Hope for the Best with Jim Holland at Green Needle Records.
“It’s becoming more organic than Feeling Love, which was more stressful,” she says. “I guess over time, things just get better.”
Pick is itching to get back out on tour as well. While she isn’t discouraged, she knows she’ll have to work harder to get herself out there once pandemic restrictions are totally lifted, as the touring market will be oversaturated like never before.
“There’s a lot of musicians and I feel like the touring circuit is gonna be packed,” she says. “It probably already is. I feel like the higher-level people probably have their fingers in all the pies and they’re just waiting for the door to open.”
While the national and international touring markets are tough, Pick recognizes her fortunate position being from the Yukon, a place with a much less competitive culture than Canada’s big-city musical hubs. Here, she can book a show once a month if she wants to and people will always come out, a testament to the supportiveness of the Yukon’s arts community.
Like any professional musician, Pick has had to get used to the rejection that can come with putting oneself out there and trying for as many opportunities as possible. Her method for getting over disappointment is to always have something else to be shooting for—so as not to put all her eggs in one basket.
“Just because you don’t get an album grant once doesn’t mean you’re never gonna get one,” she says. “You’ve just gotta reapply.”
Pick has given her entire life to her music, making countless sacrifices along the way, but to her, it’s all been worth it, because this is the only thing she wants to spend her life doing.
“I could probably own a house by now,” she says. “But I make albums instead.”
To keep up with Pick, visit her website, parispickandthepricks.com.