Geoff Berner is a tremendously gifted songwriter and musician known for his outspoken work and 100% belief in the klezmer tradition. Based in Vancouver, he received a scholarship for being the top student in the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing program and has gone on to pen scripts for Sesame Street, make several acclaimed recordings, write a book about How to Be an Accordion Player, as well as the acclaimed novel, Festival Man. His latest album is called We Are Going to Bremen to Be Musicians, it’s out now via Oriente Musik and Coax Records, and so Geoff is touring the world. We recently caught up with each other in Guelph at CFRU’s studios where he performed three songs live and discussed things like his performance of the song “We Are On Our Way to Bremen,” finding hope in darkness, the Brothers Grimm, don’t be a chicken turn musician, making a living as a musician and whether or not that’s possible, motherhood and sexism in the cultural industry, taking some joy in the deaths of people like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and other demented old people who seemed to relish destroying poor and disadvantaged people, recalling his politically charged song, “Probably NDP,” which sort of encouraged people to vote for the NDP in the last federal election, Tom Lehrer and Jon Stewart, when satirists burn out, affecting change and laughing ideas out of the room, Joey Shithead and the origin of the Vancouver-inspired song “Condos,” which he performs live on the show, the real estate fiasco and housing crisis in Vancouver, how displaced people are ending up in Surrey, the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games and their impact on the city, the cycle of nonsense that is the housing market, the media collapse and how songs are the new newspapers, the rise of fascism, his Vancouver background and its impact on his artistic perspectives, getting into punk, Billy Bragg, acoustic D.O.A., the Vancouver Folk Festival and its leftist leanings, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Justin Trudeau smokescreen, his romantic side, a live performance of “I Don’t Feel So Mad At God When I See You in Your Summer Dress,” mixed messages, his novel Festival Man and his next novel, which is a continuation of the aforementioned story of sorts, upcoming shows, the time Geoff and I ran into each other in Oslo, the long talk, Coax and not Kochs, Socalled is a genius, a Yiddish rendition of David Bowie’s “Always Crashing in the Same Car,” the song “Ich Krakh Tomid Arayn In Der Zelber Mashin,” and then it was thank you, no thank you.
Related links: geoffberner.com vishkhanna.com