Jacqueline Auguste is the lead singer for the band Across The Board; here is a link to the band’s website:
Q: What is the overall theme of Sonic Boom?
A: Sonic Boom was written on our cross-country train tour last summer and is meant to chronicle the “breaking”of a band. I pictured the listener’s journey through the album as a rock opera—with a story, a heroine, and the trials and tribulations of a musical climax and anticlimax. The story starts off in the small city of Camrose, where I grew up—a small farming community in the heart of Alberta, and moves across the country to Toronto. As a young musician, I always dreamed of taking my music to the ‘big city’ and the album echoes this journey by rail to Toronto where I eventually meet the characters who will either try to steal the dream, or help me succeed. It has highs and lows, sadness and happiness and takes the listener on a musical and hopefully emotional journey. The idea of the title for sonic boom started with the phrase “making a splash”, which eventually became “making a musical splash” and when we realized that was like a sonic boom, it just fit—a band breaking out of obscurity onto the global scene in one big sonic boom that everyone hears. I think my most favorite song from the album is “No Curtain Call”- it’s the lowest point of the rock opera when the heroine is playing in a lonely bar, by herself, no one is paying attention, the lights come on the reveal the old wood floors, the sticky old bar top and all the folks who just don’t seem to care—and the revelation that comes to her after this experience—it’s not about making a splash, or having everyone pay attention to you—it’s about the journey, the music and staying true to one’s self-not getting lost in the hype or steered off course.
Q: How did you guys get together?
A: Across The Board, as a band, started as a Youtube channel where we would get together and create weekly music videos to popular covers. It grew from there, driven by a fan base asking us if we had original music to the release of our debut album in 2016 “Jane On Fire”. It was forged initially from garage jams and basement jam sessions and landed right where we are now–with a core of four musicians and a supporting cast of musicians who come out for live shows or collaborate on Youtube videos as we have kept up a solid online offering of musical and entertainment for our fans, expanding to a musical cooking show “Kitchen Sessions”, a daily vlog “ATB 365”, as weekly acoustic jam session, a carpool Karaoke feature called “Caravan Karaoke” (we drive a Dodge Caravan) as well as a weekly Live Broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram every Sunday Morning. We even publish a weekly behind the scenes “ATB AT REHEARSAL” segment.
Q: How did you come up with the name of your band?
A: Our band is such an ecclectic group of musicians from all walks of life, across all age ranges from young to “older”–we decided we were just a group of musicians that literally represented “across the board” — and thus the name!
Q: What is your strangest performance story?
A: Funny you should ask. On May 4th we had our CD Release Party in Toronto for our newest album “SONIC BOOM”. It was a sold out show and it happended during the worst wind storm in Toronto’s recent history. People were trapped in their cars by falling poles and trees, ambulances were everywhere. There was a power outage, yet still–the venue managed to rig the entire venue and sound stage with two generators and rewire everything to work on gas! They went and bought ice for the bar and in 90 minutes transformed the venue into a fully lit, fully powered show! Folks braved the weather, the obstacles and the “apocalypse” outside to make the show!
Q: How does your work as an orthopaedic surgeon effect your ability to perform and record with the band?
A: As with any “art” including medicine, practice makes perfect. And surgery is a performance in and of itself–with the same preoperative anxiety that a musician feels before a show. I’ve learned how to practice, to rehearse, to study to perform from being a surgeon–and it transfers perfectly to music. Music for me is my creative outlet. It can be stressful at time to look after patients–particularly those who are very ill, or very broken in our case in orthopaedics. Music is that perfect blend of creative art, and technical prowess that is so similar to what I do on a daily basis in my job as a surgeon!
Q: What is your creative process for writing songs?
A: Typically, songwriting for me starts as an idea. I like a beat, a riff, a lick, and suddenly a chord structure comes. I then add a melody to that and during the process of finding that melody, words just start to emerge. And something inside takes over and creates lyrics that match the mood, the melody, the current thoughts in my head about my life, the world–and bam–a song emerges. I then take that song to my cowriter or producer and we work on the beat and genre, as well as the bridge usually. I write my best work when I am procrastinating something like taxes or cleaning my house!
Q: Who are some of your influences and how is this evidenced in your work?
A: My biggest influences as a musician come from the music I grew up with –the music of my parents I suppose–The Doors, Pink Floyd, CCR, The Beatles and then the music I discovered as a young kid—Fleetwood Mac, Roxette, Queen. Today I relate to Broken Social Scene, Walk Off The Earth, Taylor Swift, and even Shania Twain, Meghan Trainor and so many others. I love all kinds of music! It all influences me.
Q: You play a lot of different kinds of guitars. What kind of musical training have you had?
A: At the age of 10 I picked up my first guitar. Beyond that I learned oboe, flute and sax from stage and concert bands in school. I picked up the drums in my last years of highschool and started writing music and playing other stringed things like ukelele, mandolin and banjo in college. I’m classically trained in that I can read and write music, and I have spent so much time in front of musical scores… but I am a self-taught piano player and tend to write alot by ear. I wouldn’t say I have “perfect pitch”–but I can certainly tell when something is not right and find ways to fix a sound, a chord progression, a bridge, a key change, a harmony without much effort…that part comes naturally to me and I am grateful for that gift above all else.
Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote your band?
A: We are everywhere on social media–we try to maintain a solid social media presence with creative and high quality content, and bring fans along for the journey. We are story tellers and our lives are open. I don’t hide the fact I am a surgeon, I don’t hide the fact I am a mother, I don’t hide the fact I am now a grandmother! My middle baby has two little babies! My life is open and I’m hoping to inspire other women musicians and physicians and any professional who wishes to add music or other creative art back into their lives~it’s a balance. It’s an essential balance. It’s an outlet, but it’s also a lifestyle.
Q: What do you hope to express through your music.
A: In the early writings, my songs seemed to express loss, sadness, dark moments, intertwined with the occasional breath of air to relax, unwind. “Jane On Fire” is such a collection of emotional songs from “Sad Guitar” to “Take A Minute”. This new album however, is written to chronicle my journey–and I hope to inspire our listeners by finding some common ground in our collective stories!
Eliza’s interviews are done by email; all answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)