Ben Kunder knows a thing or two about craftsmanship, about coaxing details from imprecise ideas and contouring hard edges to create something beautiful and seamless.
As a musician, Kunder has expertly navigated that rarefied space between elegiac folk and accessible pop. That achievement was handily illustrated by his quietly dazzling, star-studded 2015 debut, Golden, which drew critical acclaim and airplay from Canada to the UK to the Netherlands while cementing Kunder’s status as a peerless singer/songwriter and sought-after live performer and opening act. And as a carpenter, Kunder has kept himself firmly grounded while keeping his family fed. Of late, Kunder has also kept himself flush with studio time by bartering with his friend, producer and musician Aaron Goldstein, swapping woodworking skills for sessions at Goldstein’s Baldwin Street Sound in hometown Toronto.
“My first record, Golden, was a collection of songs I’d been working on for years,” he says. “Now, it’s a bit more immediate and I am becoming a more conceptual songwriter, writing about things that are important to me or about specific experiences I go through."
“It’s interesting that a practical thing like carpentry can mirror songwriting,” confirms Kunder, whose eclectic CV also includes showcasing at the International Folk Alliance Conference as well as at NXNE and CMW plus living on each of Canada’s coasts both on and off the grid.
He continues: “With both songwriting and carpentry, you are starting from nothing but an idea. Hopefully in the end you have something that will last a lifetime.”
Kunder’s new songs – slated for his hotly anticipated 2018 sophomore disc – find him tweaking his approach somewhat. Where once it was a bottle of bourbon and a guitar in the rehearsal space whenever the moment struck, the arrival of Kai and brother baby Jude means moments must be stolen and musical ideas captured with haste as they arrive.
The essence of Kunder’s writing, however – his ability to pinpoint and then soundtrack the radiance of both the ordinary and the extraordinary - remains undiminished.
“My days are long, that’s for sure,” Kunder allows. “But when you have passion and ambition and support to follow through, it doesn’t matter how exhausted you are or how much sleep you’ve had. You keep going until the job’s done.”