By Jillian Groening
Pursuing a career in the music industry can often appear to be a gamble. Talent, connections and diligence are pitted against simply the act of being in the right place at the right time.
For Winnipeg-based singer/songwriter JP Hoe, learning how to put the odds in his favour has allowed him to create his own luck and his own success.
Hoe recognized his impulse to create and perform music and at the age of 21, decided to put all of his efforts into the industry. Spending time observing his peers as they toured Canada and the U.S., Hoe contemplated the best way to bridge into the profession.
Hoe went to Manitoba Music and engaged in all of the seminars he could find. Connecting with other members of Winnipeg’s vast music community lead Hoe to record The Here In Review EP (2003) with Keith MacPherson and the live pop-rock album The Live Beta Project (2006) with Scott Stewart at The Park Theatre. The Park Theatre would go on to host Hoe’s annual Christmas show until the consistently sold-out event had to be moved to the historic Burton Cummings Theatre.
Hoe’s musical range has given him the opportunity to play intimate house shows and grand concert halls as well as granting him freedom with touring possibilities. It has also given the charismatic musician the opportunity to work with Winnipeg music icons Ruth Moody (The Wailin’ Jennys) and Rusty Matyas (The Waking Eyes, Imaginary Cities), as he did on 2008’s independently released The Dear John Letters.
Produced by Lloyd Peterson (The Weakerthans, Nathan, Los Lobos), the epic album was the perfect catalyst to propel Hoe into the next stage in his career. From opening for Ray Davies (The Kinks) on the Winnipeg Folk Festival main stage to joining Jann Arden on tour, Hoe’s monumental opportunities never obstructed his focus or drive.
“Writing is the artistic part and performing is the fun part but there is also a lot of business that has to be done,” Hoe explains of his strategy to not get lost in the buzz of it all. “I keep office hours and when I’m on the road I remind myself it’s not a holiday. It’s become engrained in me that this is a cool job and a rewarding job but it’s a job that requires discipline and for you to think and work hard.”
After performing at a Folk Music Canada event, which lead Hoe to agent Adam Kreeft of The Agency Group, Hoe released Mannequin in 2012. Garnering three Western Canadian Music Award nominations, the momentum sent Hoe on a rigorous tour schedule with radio play across the country.
Appearances at BreakOut West and Manitoba Music showcases at the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City led Hoe to perform at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, one of England’s top folk music festivals, as well as go on his first tour of the United Kingdom, complete with BBC radio spots and all.
“If those certain people didn’t walk into [our set] that afternoon then there is no chance. It was so nuts but it created one of the most special touring experiences of my life,” Hoe says.
A similar experience occurred when Hoe played SXSW in 2014. Debating calling it quits after playing the popular festival, one of the hot spots on his career bucket list, Hoe found himself living out the fruits of his labour.
Manitoba Music had aided in bringing MapleMusic Recordings General Manager Tony Tarleton out to Hoe’s showcase. After hitting it off and seeing another performance of Hoe’s two weeks later at JUNOfest, Tarleton signed Hoe to the highly-sought after Canadian label.
“It sort of fell into my lap and I’m very, very thankful that it did,” Hoe states. “A lot of it has to do with Manitoba Music and Manitoba Film & Music’s Stephen Caroll, who helped introduce Maple to me, and I’m so grateful.”
After demonstrating the skill and determination needed to form a solid artistic and management team, the grounded artist is set to release his newest creation, Hideway. Recorded in Winnipeg’s Private Ear Recording and produced by Matyas, the record also contains mastering by João Carvalho (City & Colour, Serena Ryder, Sloan) and features L.A.-based musical artist Andy Stochansky as co-writer on four tracks.
Following the record release, Hoe plans on touring extensively across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and eventually Australia, building off of relationships the musician has fostered across the pond.
While luck has been on Hoe’s side, there’s something to be said for talent and hard work.
“It seems so strange that it’s all working out,” Hoe says. “Whatever music deities are out there they needed at least one more from me. I’m just so stinking fortunate that it all panned out.”