Gareth Inkster is a twenty-six-year-old singer-songwriter from Hamilton. A Redeemer Alumnus, Inkster has spent the past seven years living downtown Hamilton, performing extensively with various local acts, including The Good Hunters, Scott Orr, Timid, the Brave, James Hoffman, Jennifer Budd, and more. For the past several months, Gareth has focused his attention more intentionally on the production of his own music.
With a seven-track EP in the works, set to drop in the next few months, the first-fruits of this musical endeavour are the single “Last Year.” Available everywhere now, “Last Year” has already garnered some notable success in its first week, a significant accomplishment being a feature on the show In the Key of C on CBC Radio 1.
Eager to learn more about Gareth and his project, the Crown hit him up for some added insight. Read on to learn more about Last Year before you look it up on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp — or wherever it is that you get your tunes — and have a listen.
When did you graduate from RUC, and what did you study?
I graduated from Redeemer in May of 2015. By the time of my graduation, I was majoring in Religion/Theology and minoring in English; however, I meandered my way through several fields of study, having begun in Music with an interest in Psychology. I had previously studied classical piano at Mohawk for a semester before transferring to Redeemer.
What have you been up to since then?
As far as employment is concerned, I spent a year in Landscape/Construction before taking a job as an administrative assistant at a prison ministry, where I worked for a year and a half. I'm now the music teacher at Hamilton District Christian High School, which is fantastic. On the side, however, I've been constantly recording and performing with various local acts. Other Songs Music Co. has a great community around it, and many of the records/acts I've played on/with have been born out of that community.
How did this become the time to focus on sharing your own music?
Conceptually, I've been working on my own project for the past seven years. It wasn't until the past year and a bit that I realized a) how much time was passing, how quickly, and b) that I was probably sabotaging myself and neglecting to take the responsibility required to make a record out of a sense of inadequacy. I took refuge in a quote from G.K. Chesterton: "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." Often, when it comes to creative endeavours, we operate under the assumption that we need to produce things which are as good as they are in our fantasies, and we resent ourselves for achieving anything less. The Chesterton quote really helps me to get past that nonsense and just take joy in creating. Really, the alternative to being vulnerable and sharing is being clammed up and resentful of others, so it was high time I made something of my own.
What unifies the EP’s seven songs?
Like the single, the EP will be called Last Year. This is in part because the record documents various events and ideas which were key plot points to the past year of my life. Funnily enough, only two of the songs were truly written in the last year, but the themes and patterns ring true. It essentially encapsulates a relationship of mine, from inauspicious young beginnings to a more matured and wiser fallout, ending with a final song which serves as a benediction and epilogue of sorts. Don't worry though, it's not just a bunch of love songs. There's a bunch of philosophizing/thinking-out-loud on there too.
Tell us about the instrumentation.
The single is primarily just a rock band, but the songs develop from there in a bunch of directions. There is one stripped tune which is just a live recording of me in the studio playing piano and singing — it’s a lullaby, really. There's one which is mostly just finger-picked guitar; there are a few string quartets which pop up here and there; there's one song in particular which essentially features an orchestra (my best rendition of one with the instruments I have), and the guitar solos are done in a variety of different styles. I'm pretty proud of the breadth and depth of the thing.
What hopes do you have for your listeners? How can we stay in the loop?
I don't have a lot of specific hopes that are make or break — I just hope that people will listen and enjoy. In my estimation, the songs are thought provoking, so I hope people will subject themselves to the questions they ask. I do also hope that people will approach them with an open mind. The rest of the record is not a whole lot like the single, for better or worse.
As far as staying in the loop is concerned, I'm on all the social media platforms — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I'll be sure to post updates there, but listeners should also definitely follow me on Spotify or Apple Music, etc. if they want to keep up with the latest.