Interview – Red Dirt Skinners

Belleville, ON-based award-winning band, Red Dirt Skinners have unveiled their latest single, “Brighter Days Ahead”. The single lands ahead of the band’s forthcoming album, Bear With Us, which is set for release this Fall.

Rooted in a time when the Skinners — Rob and Sarah — were on tour in Scotland and noticed, amongst the rain clouds, the shadows always pointed towards a rainbow. It seemed to be an observation that could be applied to life in general too, and from that idea, “Brighter Days Ahead” was born.

“We are living in strange and confusing times,” Sarah says. “‘Brighter Days Ahead’ is intended to give the listener hope.

“It’s a positive summer anthem for 2021!”

Check out the video for “Brighter Days Ahead” below, and find out more about Red Dirt Skinners via our mini-interview.

First off, care to introduce yourself to our readers?

We’re husband and wife team Rob and Sarah Skinner. Born in the UK and emigrated to Canada in 2017. We’ve been making music together as Red Dirt Skinners since 2011.

“Bear With Us”, the forthcoming album will be our seventh and comes out on October 22, 2021.

We’re both multi-instrumentalists and we both sing. Rob plays guitar, bass, piano, and drums on the album and I (Sarah) play saxes and some piano.

Funny story – In 2014, we received an email from a promoter saying that they’d heard us on the radio and wanted to book us for their festival in Stratford. We assumed they meant Stratford, England and there was endless confusion between both parties about whether we’d need to book flights or whether we could drive to the venue (we assumed the latter!!). Anyway… that first show then turned into a 12 date tour across Ontario in 2015 which resulted in a mutual love of Canada and Canadians. To cut a long story short, in 2017 we were invited to become permanent residents and it couldn’t have been a more positive move; personally and professionally. We live in a small rural town in Ontario, halfway between Toronto and Ottawa. It’s a wonderful community and we are so grateful to have been welcomed so unconditionally into it.

Tell us about the recording process behind “Brighter Days Ahead”?

The lyrics to Brighter Days Ahead came from a time on tour in Scotland in 2019 where we saw a huge double rainbow and noticed that the shadows were pointing towards it. It made us think that that’s true of life too. Tough times happen and we find a way through to better times. The lyric “shadows point to a rainbow, I can see brighter days ahead” was the start of the song and was actually written pre-covid. Now it seems even more relevant in today’s world. The song developed across the winter where we sat by the fire and put more ideas together. I (Sarah) write the lyrics and Rob writes the music. Rob just started playing the riff to Brighter Days Ahead and the line fitted perfectly over the top of it. We run our own studio so the next thing was to get in the studio and start laying tracks down. With plenty of time to work on the new album, it meant that we could layer tracks over and over, which resulted in many vocal lines. The verses are in B minor which is often described as sounding sad. The chorus is in E major which sounds happy and that was exactly how we wanted the listener to feel.

What was the highlight of 2020?

Geez, that’s a tricky question!!! A highlight? of 2020?!!

Actually no… it was receiving countless messages of support from fans. Including this one from a fan when we were right at the start of the first lockdown;

“Just a little note to let you know how your music touches us.

We saw you in Nova Scotia and bought 2 CDs because we enjoyed you so much.

My partner and I are now isolating in different countries – US and CANADA  due to our different nationalities. We are very sad to be apart.  

Last night we skyped and listened to “Lay Me Down” [from our 2018 album Under Utopian Skies] and cried. Then we remembered how we felt at your performance and how many times we have listened to your CDs. Just to let you know how you continue to be a part of our lives together – apart. Thank you”

It’s messages like this one that has kept us going throughout the lockdown and make us excited to see our fans again and bring them new music.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career in 2021? 

We’re hoping that Bear With Us will help Canadians fall in love with our music as much as we have fallen in love with Canada and Canadians. We’re very happy with how it sounds and are looking forward to sharing it across the country. We miss our audiences and just can’t wait to get back to that wonderful feeling where we join a new community every evening and share our stories.

Is there anyone out there you’d like to collaborate or open/close a concert with in the future? 

Good question! We’ve found that people most compare our music to Supertramp so a chance to open for Rodger Hodgson would be a dream come true, that’s for sure.

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