Glen Foster entertainer, songwriter, vocalist, accomplished guitarist, multi-instrumentalist has been performing professionally for over 30 years and has released 6 albums. Studio credits include working with Daniel Lanois, Don Potter, Bob Doidge, Bill Dillon, Rita Chiarelli, Jack Pedlar, Sonny Del Rio, David Gogo, Mark Crissinger, Gerry Barnum and Rick Salt.
He has toured Canada extensively from coast to coast on the same bill with Lighthouse, Sammy Hagar, Dr. Hook, Jose Feliciano, Valdy, Jesse Winchester, Stan Rogers etc., performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and plays regularly at music festivals, pubs and dance halls on the west coast with Glen Foster Group.
Glen was front man of his band Falcon in the 70s & 80s and lead guitarist for several years with WEA’s Ray Materick of ‘Linda Put The Coffee On’ fame. Live appearances include The Ian Tyson Show, Tommy Banks Show, P.N.E. Gardens, The Cave and Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, Ontario Place, Massey Hall, El Mocambo and the legendary Riverboat in Toronto.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with Glen about musical styles, motivations, challenges and much more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Before we jump into the interview, Glen has another worthwhile project just in time for the Holiday season that deserves some attention. The Spirit of Christmas and The Twelve Guitars of Christmas is a 45 rpm single on Red Vinyl that was initially released in 1986 and received national airplay in Canada. The 25 year anniversary re-release (in November 2011) features digitally re-mastered mixes. Digital release available on Apple Music.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
Hi, my name is Glen Foster and I live on Vancouver Island which is on the west coast of British Columbia, CANADA. I’ve been playing professionally for over 30 years and have studied classical, jazz, finger-picking and popular guitar styles. The first instrument I learned to play was Hawaiian guitar which I’ve developed into Lap Steel and Dobro guitar applications. But my first love of music is vocal expression and arrangements, which is derived from my appreciation of groups such as The Beach Boys, Four Seasons, Eagles, Beatles, Doobie Brothers, etc.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
Taking guitar lessons at a very early age was important in developing my skill and knowledge of music and performance. I self taught myself piano, studied theory through the Royal Conservatory of Music, and performed in a few choirs. This gave me the ability to arrange harmony vocal parts in show bands and folk-rock groups that I’ve been in over the years, which in turn has been invaluable in the arranging I’ve done for my many recording projects. Of course ‘learning is never ending’ so I’m continually practicing new techniques and useful skills. That and the continuous endeavor to write the next ‘greatest song’, combined with the satisfaction of performing is what keeps me going in this business of music.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
During my career I have recorded albums of various styles and genres including punk rock, experimental, country, folk, and instrumentals. I have used a broad selection of instruments such as: accordion, bag-pipes, bass harmonica, violin, strings, autoharp, washboard, synthesizers, flutes and whistles, etc. My latest release entitled MUSIC ALCHEMY utilizes Brass Instruments on every track creating an old style R&B sound reminiscent of Wilson Picket, Sam & Dave and even the ‘big band’ sound of Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears. It was challenging but I was able to do all the arrangements for saxophones, trumpet, trombone, tuba and French Horn. The end result is very satisfying. With a sound that big there are several different melodies happening simultaneously, creating complex harmony and counterpoint all within the same composition. That was quite an accomplishment for me with this album. I want to do more arranging for the big band in the future, possibly adapting some of my older songs.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
For me it’s not so much a challenge getting my music heard because there are so many platforms and groups that are happy to feature new and independent music. But it is difficult to actually sell music either in hard form (CD) or digital downloads and make any money. It’s all quite understandable but the costs of producing high quality music are significant and it’s hard to just break even with what we get paid for sales and plays on radio and internet.
Today you can reach almost anyone anywhere in the world but, there is such an abundance of very high quality music that it’s necessary to differentiate yourself and your brand. The obvious medium becomes the visual arts, such as creating music videos or touring and presenting your message on stage. Here again the costs can be so high in these competitive markets that it’s difficult to be profitable after all your expenses have been added up.
What inspires your songwriting and where do you find ideas for your songs?
Real life situations that are unusual, are typically great inspiration for songs. Sometimes they have to do with relationships or events. Often just being in a strange place like on a vacation will inspire something. I wrote ‘Blue Monkey’ while on the Greek island of Santorini about historic events there. ‘Joe The Crow’ is about noisy crows waking me up while I was camping and other crazy things that crows do. Historical events often inspire me to write, such as ‘The Ballad of Uz and Buz’ which is about ancient biblical characters. Variation of musical styles can spawn fresh new ideas such as my tune ‘Groove Eleven’ which is in 11/8 time. On MUSIC ALCHEMY we used ‘swing beat’ on a lot of the music to compliment the big brassy sound and tie things all together.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
I’m very pleased with my website (which I built myself using a popular platform) for being the one place that contains (almost) everything. And that is simply www.glenfoster.ca
Anything else before we sign off?
Finally I would just like to say thank you to my family, friends, fans and followers who enjoy what I do and offer their support by buying our product and coming out to live performances. Also to the many radio stations and internet sites such as Middle Tennessee Music.com that welcome music submissions and do such a great job of promoting the artists and music they love to listen to.