“The Twelve Fret (music store in Toronto) is my favourite music store in the world because they never talk down to me,” said Saffron A, who is a classically trained singer and was “brainwashed into music” by her parents from birth. “There’s a trope of the girl with long hair, sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar, and I wanted to go past that. So many guys in guitar stores come out of the back and start explaining to me the differences between two instruments I already own and know how to play.”
While Saffron performs live mainly on an electric octave mandolin, an instrument similar to the Irish Bouzouki, she also plays the mandocello, a standard mandolin, guitar, and other string instruments.
“If I can’t convince them, I’ll confuse them,” said Saffron. “No one else is playing octave mandolin.”
This Friday night, May 17, 2019, Saffron is performing at Musiikki Cafe, which will be her second show in Kingston and at Musiikki.
“(CFRC radio host) Hugh Ambrose got in touch and told me he’d been playing my music,” said Saffron. “So that put Kingston on my radar. Hugh is very lovely. I stay with him and his wife when I’m in town.”
Her first experience at Musiikki was a particularly powerful one.
“When I was there in February, I managed to get the audience to be completely quiet when I played (the song) Resilience,” explained Saffron. “There’s a real warmth to the culture at Musiikki. My music kind of demands to be heard, so it was great that the audience was receptive to that.”
Saffron will be sharing the bill with Wax Mannequin, who has played many shows in Kingston over the years.
“Wax is an absolute legend,” said Saffron. “A friend gave me his album The Price and said ‘you’re gonna like this,’ and I did. Then, last year we shared a bill in Hamilton. He’s a very sweet person. We talked about doing some shows in the future and he was totally down.”
Saffron’s current tour of Ontario and Quebec is promoting her new EP, Resilience, which is also the name of the lead single. The song itself is a very gripping, personal song about a sexual assault that she experienced.
“The song was the catalyst for the EP,” said Saffron. “And the song and the album represent a cohesive narrative that people may apply to their experiences. My live show tends to be quite emotionally interactive with the audience because of the content I’m bringing: sexual assault, trauma, and mental health. I strive to focus on connection and connecting with my audience, and creating an atmosphere where people feel comfortable to think and to share.”
The song is compelling and blunt, not burying the message in allegory or symbolism. There’s a quote of Nirvana’s 1993 song Rape Me near the end.
“I recorded a demo of the song about a month after the assault without that in there,” said Saffron. “Then I added it in during a show once and it stuck. I’ve got a new song called Priceless Advice, which is another direct Nirvana reference.”
The video for Resilience, although powerful, was subject to a comedic moment during production.
“The clippers stopped working, and we only had two hours to shoot the whole thing,” said Saffron, referring to the scene where she shaves her head. “I was stuck with a Friar Tuck skullet for a bit until we got it fixed. I still had to go a barber after to get it done right.”
Saffron A and Wax Mannequin perform at Musiikki Cafe Friday night at 8 p.m.