Sarah Slean & Hawksley Workman navigate humanity through song

Canadian musical talents unite on historic Kingston stage

Sarah Slean and Hawksley Workman will perform at the Grand Theatre on March 14.
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Hawksley Workman and Sarah Slean have enjoyed successful careers in the Canadian music scene for more than two decades.

The pair will bring their combined talents to the Grand Theatre on March 14.

Their sound operates outside the confines of one genre, often moving fluidly in their composition and sound. Their latest collaborative release, a five-track album titled These Two is the honest and bold union of two experienced artists reflecting on a mutual friendship spanning over duel illustrious music careers.

Workman spoke about the vulnerable process of composing and recording an album in collaboration.

“Writing is a very personal thing for everyone, and when you are writing with someone else, the bizarre part is that you are revealing of your little secrets and little tricks,” Workman said in an interview. “I’ve done lots of co-writing, so I’ve become used to what it feels like, that reveal, when you’re writing and [recording] with someone.”

He found that despite his long-standing friendship with Slean, exposing those aspects of themselves to one another while writing jointly for the first time felt personal and private.

Slean is a classically-trained artist who has worked across various artistic mediums. Not only has she sold records internationally and toured North America and Europe, but she’s also produced a wide-ranging volume of work. This body of work includes poetry, art exhibitions, two string orchestras, and starring roles in short films and a movie musical.

Workman is a predominant figure in the Canadian music scene as both an artist and producer. He’s created an eclectic repertoire of music, which he attributes to his restless state. He says progression is marked by a shift in genre and a sense of newness. 

“I have a mind that captures images, and I try to populate my songs with bits of absurdities or tenderness here and there, and it results in music about what I have seen and felt and places I’ve been,” he said.  

He observes that he and Slean are cut from a similar cloth, and differ only in Slean’s ability to write in a more narrative fashion. Their separate work complements the other’s talents.

Slean says songwriting is “a reveling of a wound that won’t heal.”

Both artists identify as keen observers of society and are obsessed with the nuances of how the world clicks.

Workman tends to live on the misanthropic, negative side, whereas Slean leans to a more hopeful side, with a natural affection for people. Workman concludes that, ultimately, they are both obsessed with the human condition.

“That’s what drives us both,” he said.  

With similar interests and values, it’s no surprise that the musicians complement one another so well in their work.

 

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