More than 20 years since Coldplay released their debut Parachutes, the album, like much of the music from the British rockers, still rings in Field Guide’s head. That first introduction to the band left such a mark on the Winnipeg artist that he had to cover it—in its entirety—two decades later on his album Parachutes, out Nov. 19.
“Coldplay was one of the first bands that I discovered on my own as a kid,” says Field Guide. “Their early records have played an important role in my development as a songwriter. Originally, I had planned to perform Parachutes in its entirety with my band in Toronto. When live playing disappeared from the realm of possibility, I shifted gears and decided to take the idea into studio land.”
Working with co-producer Kris Ulrich, Field Guide began working through the 10 tracks of Parachutes in January 2021, including the Coldplay hit “Yellow” and the title track, which he’s released as a live video, featuring Canadian artist and friend Begonia.
A follow-up to Field Guide’s debut Make Peace With That, released earlier in 2021, Parachutes is a retreat to earlier times, when inspiration was most transparent and palpable. Coldplay left a stamp on Field Guide’s musical identity, one he’s beginning to burrow into much deeper.
Keeping the steadied pace of Coldplay’s original 46-second interlude, Field Guide and Begonia delicately harmonize around the lone verse of the song: In a haze, a stormy haze / I’ll be round, I’ll be loving you always / Always / Here I am and I’ll take my time / Here I am and I’ll waiting in line always / Always.
Parachutes, Field Guide’s version, was pieced together inside his family cabin just outside Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. “The frigid outside temperature and roaring wood stove set the tone for a cozy and intimate take on a classic album,” says Field Guide, who pulled in other friends and artists as collaborators, including Katie Munshaw of Dizzy, Pennsylvania-bred Lizzy McAlpine, who is featured on “Yellow,” and Canadian pop singer Begonia, who joins him in the captivating, one-minute rendition of “Parachutes.”
“It’s tricky trying to re-produce an album that is so well done and well-loved, but I’m really proud of where the album ended up living,” says Field Guide. The addition of some wonderful guest vocalists gave us further opportunity to explore new territory and present these songs in an interesting new light.”
Field Guide recently talked about the process of revisiting Parachutes, the influence of Winnipeg and its expanding music scene… and making pasta from scratch.
American Songwriter: What is the inspiration behind the Coldplay Parachutes covers album. Why did you decide to do the entire album?
Field Guide: Parachutes was one of the first records that I found on my own. Up until junior high, I was mostly listening to stuff my dad liked [like] The Eagles and quite a bit of country music. Coldplay was a departure from that. Not only did I fall in love with the songs but it opened up my mind to interesting production, arrangement choices that still find their way into how I produce my own music today.
AS: What does the song “Parachutes” mean to you personally, and why the one-minute video?
FG: In a way, it’s tough to speak specifically to the single as it really feels like just a puzzle piece from the album, but it’s a short and sweet sample of the entire body of work. I think that the song “Parachutes” is a good reminder to let songs take shape however they are supposed to and to not force something to be more (or longer) than it wants to be. Even though it’s such a short song, I felt that it deserved the feature and to be highlighted with a video.
AS: Can you share a bit about your songwriting process? What do you think makes a good song?
FG: Although I periodically experiment with writing in different ways, I almost always come back to my acoustic guitar as a starting place. I guess I just know that if I craft a song that feels good on the acoustic, then it will hold its own no matter where the production takes it later. I definitely don’t think that’s the way it has to be, or that a song has to work acoustically to be good, but right now that process is working for me.
AS: How has Winnipeg influenced you and your music?
FG: Winnipeg has taught me about what it means to have a red hot band. There are so many incredible players in that town, it’s outrageous. Different Winnipeg-based projects have differently influenced me along the way, [including] The Bros. Landreth for their songs and musicianship and Royal Canoe for their fearless production. Most of all, it’s my friends and peers in Winnipeg right now that are currently pushing me to be the best songwriter that I possibly can be. There is something special going on right now in the city. Soon it will go off the rails.
AS: How have you been spending your pandemic time?
FG: I’ve recorded about 25 songs during this time which has been great. I’ve written quite a bit. I was rollerblading and making pasta from scratch for a while, but things are getting busy again.
Photo by Katherine Kwan/Tell All Your Friends PR