Culture  Cycling for change

Songwriter Derek Olive talks folk-pop and environmentalism

McGill alumnus, songwriter, and ER nurse Derek Olive released his second album Mystery and Dust earlier this year to positive reception from Canadian media. The 11-track compilation is full of hearty finger-style guitar and soft folk-pop melodies.

The project came together when Olive was searching for bandmates to play with to create a comfortable space for creativity. “We actually went up to a cottage in the Laurentians and spent six days up there without any phone or internet, just working on the album,” Olive told The Daily.

Olive’s musical style is influenced by the works of Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, and John Mayer. His excellent string arrangements are the results of his formal training in classical music at McGill’s Schulich School of Music.

After finishing the project, Olive chose an unconventional mode of transportation to tour his album: biking. “I’ve always loved cycling and have done numerous cycling trips before where I’ve travelled across Eastern Europe, from Panama to Mexico City […] and even across Canada.” The decision to bike was not merely a preference for Olive, the artist wanted to increase awareness of sustainability issues by choosing an emissions-free mode of transportation.

In light of the upcoming federal elections, Olive wanted to align himself with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot Movement. The Blue Dot Movement urges different levels of Canadian government to recognize clean water, clean air, and healthy food as basic rights for all Canadians.

“I am not much of a guy who likes movements normally,” explains Olive. ìI have a hard time finding a movement to fit into that I can agree with…but what I really liked with Blue Dot is that it’s really simple […] It’s a grassroots movement that gives people like you and [me] the power to put together a plan to go and see your local mayor and say, ‘hey this is what we want to do,’ […] I can’t see anything to argue about, [having this] in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Efforts to legislate the Blue Dot Movement’s goals have been met with resistance. When a municipal declaration came before the Kawartha Lakes City council last March, councillors seemed to be more preoccupied with potential liability issues post-implementation than the spirit of the motion.

Derek ended his cycling tour with a show at Monument National – Le Café in Montreal on September 4.