Joe McLeod Talks Debut Album “Cloud Berries In Alaska”

Kat Harlton

Lead Photo: Adrian Garcea

Blending the lines of indie folk, pop and americana, Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe McLeod recently released his debut album, Cloud Berries In Alaska, with production by members of Canadian indie-rock group The Elwins.

A gifted songwriter and performer, McLeod brings his stories to life in vivid detail, using his evocative voice to explore everything from love and loss to the natural beauty of his native Canada. Born in the small town of Keswick, Ontario, McLeod spent his early days building an audience in Kingston, before settling in Toronto to pursue a music career. Within a few short years, he was extensively touring and opening for global acts such as The Rural Alberta Advantage and Limblifter on the major festival circuit while earning a reputation as a must-see performer. 

We had the opportunity to chat with Joe about the inspiration behind his latest album, what he hopes fans connect with, and what’s next.

Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your debut album “Cloud Berries In Alaska”

Joe: This album is a collection of songs that have been with me for years, and some that were written during the months following my father’s passing and the first year of covid. Cloudberries are a berry that thrive during harsh conditions and the songs on this album represent the duality of the loved ones that helped me thrive despite the conditions that may have been harsh. I really tried to carve a story on each song and throughout the entire album as a whole. 

Kat: What do you hope fans connect with from the album?

Joe: I really hope that people can connect with the stories being told, the metaphors being used to describe emotions that most people feel or the music that brings these to life. My goal is for someone to find some kind of kinship within a song that I’ve written. I have a handful of songs that profoundly changed my life and the way I feel within the world. I hope I can do that for someone one day. 

Kat: What do you find is the most challenging part of your creative process?

Joe: I think the most challenging part of my creative process is clearing the headspace to write about my true emotions. I have found that I go through waves of creativity and clarity. I have realized that as things get busier, I need to dedicate time to be alone and to reflect on the way I feel. If I do not give myself time alone, I am not able to remove myself enough from who I ‘meant to be’ and tap into who I truly am. That was way more philosophical than I anticipated! 

Kat: What has been a career highlight for you so far? What have you learned along the way?

Joe: A career highlight for me would be the first time I saw the first vinyl pressing of the new record. Since I was a young kid, I thought vinyl was the coolest thing. I have my grandmother’s vinyl collection as they are something that can stand the test of time. I always wanted to leave my stamp on the world in some capacity such as that but I never thought it would be making my own record. I have learned so much along the way about the music industry, both the good and the bad, but more than anything, I learned about myself and how I handle the pressure of the industry. So far my career has put me in situations where I had to sink or swim. I have put faith in myself more than I ever thought I would, and to me that has been worth all of the stress and anxiety that comes along pursuing music as a way of life. 

Kat: What’s next?

Joe: This is something I have been asking myself during the build up to this record release and the answer is… More music! In a few short weeks I am going back into the studio to start production on LP #2. With the world the way that it is, I want to take advantage of the time I have to create as much as possible before I can go on the road again. I also want to take some time to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. After my Dad died I had a seriously hard time starting this record. I had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that he’d never hear it, but I believe he will be listening somewhere and that to me, is worth taking a moment to appreciate.

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