Mip performs at the Bulkley Valley Brewery in Smithers July 12. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Mip brings the small town to the big city

“I feel like the small town part of me is really important to have in the city.”

She might have lived in Toronto for nearly a decade, but don’t call Mip a Torontonian.

The Smithers musician said it’s a common joke among her and her friends in the big city, where she has lived for nearly a decade.

“We argue about it they’re like ‘nope, you’re a Torontonian now’!” she said in an interview with The Interior News.

But as Mip — a.k.a Marie Perry — explains, there are certain aspects of city living someone who has grown up in a small town never gets used to.

“I feel like the small town part of me is really important to have in the city and I really try to keep that root to myself because cities can get pretty whacky.”

Mip said it’s this sense of belonging to Smithers that always draws her back to the Bulkley Valley, where she said she has to go every so often to decompress and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

This time, it’s the Kispiox Music Festival, being held from July 26 to July 28, as well at ArtsWells festival from August 2 to August 8 in Wells, B.C.

It will be Mip’s third time performing at the former festival, which she notes has a special place in her heart, along with Smither’s Midsummer Music Festival.

READ MORE: Musical collaboration comes together at Midsummer Festival

“I will always love Midsummer. That’s the one I grew up with until I left basically I think I went to every single one of them at least for a little bit so [it] will always have a place in my heart.”

She said it’s an incredible experience to be able to perform at the very same events she loved attending as a kid, noting she was sad she wasn’t able to attend this year’s Midsummer Music Festival.

Mip, who is also the daughter of Smithers songwriter Mark Perry, said growing up with a musician for a father had a large influence on her own interest in the arts, both musical and visual.

It also made for great bedtime stories.

“He would almost score the bedtime stories, [like] he’d tell us bedtime stories … and he’d have little rifts he would play to kind of back it up

“Music has always been there. I always said I want to be an artist and I want to be a singer and I want to be all the things my parents were when I was little.”

READ MORE: Mark Perry premieres hockey song nationally

But Mip also acknowledged a desire to get away from being simply known as the daughter of a pre-established musical artist, which is a major reason she pointed to for choosing to use the artist name.

Discussing her musical history she said her first introduction to music was when her dad signed her up to play the piano at a young age.

And while she praises the experience as instrumental in her ability to teach music (one of two side gigs aside from performing, along with being an ESL teacher) it was the electric guitar that she would fall in love with a few years later after a friend’s sibling got one as a gift.

Add two friends and, before long, she began the quintessential high school band experience.

“[One] of my girlfriends at the time was like well maybe i’ll learn bass and the other was like well I’ve played a little bit of drums before … we were like garage band proper.”

That was back around 2001, and while Mip said her style has evolved since then she refers to it as an eclectic mix including elements of folk, punk and all forms of rock.

“It jumps from genre to genre,” she said with a laugh.

Recounting her move to Toronto, she said it began with a chance encounter with Rachelle van Zanten while she was going to school in Victoria which led to the Canadian musician inviting Mip to do some recording with her when she was in town.

A relationship developed and, in time, the two went on a mini tour throughout Ontario — Mip’s first time in Toronto.

After this she described a bit of a hectic period in her life, involving a backpacking trip, an internship and, finally, a crisis about her working future when faced with the prospect of a secure-yet-mundane job in government.

“I was just like, what am I doing with my life?

“I wanted to play music and make art, so I moved to Toronto.”

A bit of a change for someone who had lived in a town of under 6,000 for nearly her entire life, minus a short stint in Victoria for school.

And while Mip acknowledged it was tough at first to meet new people and find a crew she really “fit” with, she said after a year or so things just clicked and she found herself part of a whole new community of musicians and artists alike.

This would also include bassist Greg Kowalczyk and drummer Shane MacPherson, who make up the Mip Power Trio along with Mip.

“Those guys are like musically astounding and it’s been really good growth for me to play with such awesome players like that … it becomes a real camaraderie.”

Despite all the incredible experiences she said she has had in Toronto, however, she still points to a large part of her that is inherently Smithers and small-town Canada.

And while she acknowledged a life of performing music while teaching on the side might not be as lucrative or stable as a government salary, she said it’s something that puts a smile on her face every day she wakes up — even with Toronto’s obscenely-high rental rates.

“Despite the fact that it’s really stressful sometimes when it comes to the financial aspect of it I know it makes me happier than what I could have been doing.

“I would have had far more security but I don’t think I’d feel as fulfilled.”

Discussing future plans the singer said the Mip Power Trio recently re-recorded an EP she initially put together around the time she initially moved to Toronto, adding the near decade in between recording has led songs which, despite lyrically being the same, have a whole new sound to them.

The band also has plans to release a three-song EP dedicated to a friend of Mip’s that passed away as well as a new feature-length album.

As for Mip, she said she recently converted part of her home into an office/studio and has decided for the next chapter of her life to go all-in on the musical performance aspect of her career, noting that while it’s a risk, it’s one she is happy to take.

Joking that while her decade anniversary of moving to Toronto is coming up, she adds there are still aspects of the city she doesn’t ever think the small-town girl in her will ever get used to.

“I still try to avoid rush hour,” she said with a laugh.


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