From the living room to Massey Hall￼
Interview with Canadian singer-songwriter Royal Wood
For those not familiar with his work, Royal Wood is a Canadian singer-songwriter from outside of Toronto, Ontario. Three of his albums have debuted in the Top 30, he has been nominated for multiple JUNO and Canadian Folk Music awards, and has had his music featured in shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Throughout his career he has headlined in iconic venues all over the world and has toured with countless artists, like Bonnie Raitt.
This spring, Royal Wood toured Saskatchewan, his first tour since the COVID-19 pandemic began over two years ago. While on his tour, I had the pleasure of diving deeper into who he is as a person and performer during an interview.
Wood started playing music at the age of four where he began with piano. Eventually, he progressed to playing a wide variety of instruments including but not limited to the guitar, harmonica, bass, drums, and a plethora of woodwind and brass. To go along with the wide repertoire of instruments that he has learned over the years, he also developed the skills needed to sing and compose his own music. Although he has the ability to be the entire band with the skill he possesses with every instrument, he admits that the piano holds his heart. Being the first instrument that he picked up, the memories of sitting down at a keyboard and feeling the music come alive beneath his fingertips has been with him the longest. “Playing the piano allows me to be the whole band,” Wood conveyed when discussing his preferences. There, he has the widest range and the ability to be everything that is needed for a piece to feel whole.
None of this would have been possible if it was not for the support and inspiration brought forth from his family. Growing up with a large household consisting of his parents and five siblings, quiet moments were rare occurrences. Together they would fill their home with singing and instrumental accompaniment that was fostered by their father. Later in life one of Wood’s older brothers provided him a place to stay in Toronto while he was in the beginning stages of getting his career off the ground, allowing him the means necessary to move from Quebec back to Ontario while he experienced the beginning portions of his career. Of course, most don’t make it far if not for the support and care of their mother, and Wood is no exception. Throughout it all, his mother has been there to cheer him on, attending shows, collecting every news clipping, and continuing to provide the support needed to push through difficult times. Each member of his family has had a role to play in fostering and supporting Wood throughout his career.
He has experienced a very full career, but there are a few moments that hold a special place in his heart. Having the ability to tour all over the world, playing for crowds of people who all came out to see him perform. The most monumental of these experiences was headlining Massey Hall. Not only are people coming out to see him perform, but people have been enjoying his music so much that he has been able to experience hearing his own music on TV and the radio.
Why has someone with so much success decided to do a Saskatchewan tour as their first introduction back to playing for a live audience since COVID-19 started? Well, his career before COVID began with his family, and his career after COVID will begin with family as well. During the unexpected break that COVID brought forth, Wood was able to begin a new chapter of his life as him and his wife were fortunate enough to have two children, one two-year-old and one at just three months. With little ones now in the picture, the idea of taking off on a large and far away tour did not seem to be the best idea. Keeping that in mind, Wood decided to bring his wife and kids back to her home province. As she was raised in Saskatoon, coming to Saskatchewan to tour was the perfect way to stretch his legs and get back on stage while also ensuring that they would have extra hands to assist with the kids, all while seeing some faces that they haven’t been able to in a while.
Wood has not let any of his fans down. Taking the unexpected halt in touring, he has been able to put more time and energy into the production of his next album and is more than ready to keep stepping out onto stage after stage to entertain. If his Saskatchewan tour was an indication of the heart and soul that he puts into his music, then there is no question as to why he has been able to achieve the success that has come his way.
One important thing that Wood believes every performer should keep in mind as they move forward is to not be in a hurry for the rewards and success: “Be focused on making yourself better, the rest will always come to you.” Even though dealing with rejection can be hard and the politics can get messy, by continuing to strive to make yourself better and enjoy the moments as they come, you will have everything you need.