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Chantal Kreviazuk joins our Zoom call while zooming down a busy street in Los Angeles. The Manitoba-born musician is sitting in the passenger seat of a car being driven by her 17-year-old son, Rowan.
“He’s a new driver,” she laughs nervously.
The two are on their way back from a doctor’s appointment for Rowan that came up unexpectedly.
“My son is OK,” she assures me, before sharing a surprise celebrity encounter while trying to charge her phone at the nurse's station. "Who do I spot but [mixed martial artist] Conor McGregor, sitting there with his leg up from breaking his leg during a match the other night...Part of me wishes I had spoken to him since I know his sister is a fan of mine. But because of where we were, it would have been awkward—so I didn’t."
If that wasn’t surreal enough, when Kreviazuk returned to her son, the door of the room was ajar and she happened to spot famed basketball player and former Toronto Raptor, Kawhi Leonard, walking with a cane.
“It was crazy! I felt like I was in some pro-athlete, post-op purgatory or something,” she shakes her head, laughing.
The Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter has found that life during the pandemic has been its own purgatory.
“It’s been subtly terrifying. Any expectations are out the window. Just when I think we’re doing great as a family and I can finally relax, something goes wrong and it becomes hard again,” she explains. “Everyday feels like a constant adjustment—a pivot.”
The pandemic has also thrown Kreviazuk’s music for a loop.
“Anything to do with my process has been reversed and really different,” she describes. “The times I thought I would be creative, I wasn’t. And then the times where I didn’t expect anything creative to come out of me, it did. Everything has been turned upside down.”
Something must have been in tune because in spite of all the uncertainty, Kreviazuk managed to release an album called Get To You during COVID-19. While Kreviazuk has been in Los Angeles for the bulk of the last year and a half, she says she was able to find a small window to tour in a couple of Canadian cities.
“It was just 50 people at a time, but it was so fun and incredible,” she said.
She also put out an album under the moniker "Moon Vs Sun" alongside husband, Raine Maida, the frontman of renowned Canadian alternative rock band, Our Lady Peace. “My husband has always made music on his own—we’ve written songs together but we really didn’t make songs together, so this was our first time doing that.”
Despite being an out-of-the-ordinary, high-profile couple with two equally successful careers in music, Kreviazuk says that married life for her has not been unlike other couples having a hard time during the pandemic.
“We’re human and it’s definitely affected us,” she tells me. “My husband and I usually travel—the dynamic is such that I’m not normally with him 24-7. I have Chantal music stuff to do and he has Our Lady Peace stuff to do. It gives us space; that in itself has been a big shift.”
Kreviazuk also feels like her three boys, aged 13, 16 and 17 have had more than enough mothering by this point.
“In what world have you been around your mom that much at 17,” she says referring to her son, who laughs behind the wheel.
Still, Kreviazuk has been able to get a rhythm going when it comes to her own self-care.
"Every single day I do a crazy bike ride because I’m not going to lie, I did gain the Pandemic 10,” she says, referring to her weight. “And then I blew my knee out riding horses. I’m putting off knee surgery for the time being so the biking has been phenomenal. I also try to jump in the ocean when I get a chance—I’ve really been enjoying the outdoors. I feel like getting a bit of sun isn’t a bad thing.”
Kreviazuk's approach to beauty has also been about keeping things simple, choosing products from the skincare brand REN "because it's made from soil deep down in the earth."
“I think that if you can’t eat what you put on your skin, you probably shouldn’t put it on your face either," she explains.
Taking cues from nature is a trait she believes she’s inherited from her Indigenous ancestors. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Kreviazuk is of First Nation Cree heritage (she also has Scottish and Ukrainian roots).
“I often have these amazing images in my mind of what life must have been like for them and I try to learn from them," she shares.
Kreviazuk has been able to catch and release certain ties to her own past in the stillness of the past year. In 1994, Kreviazuk was in a serious motorcycle accident in Italy where she had a lot of catastrophic injuries and spent several months recuperating.
“Years later, when my kids had injuries, it would often bring up a lot of PTSD for me,” she tells me. “I would relive the accident and that was really difficult.”
During the pandemic, Kreviazuk remembered the accident in such detail that she made a deal with herself.
“I decided that I didn’t need to relive it anymore,” she says. “It took me 30 years to remember the things I wanted to remember. Because I was finally able to recall everything I needed to move on, I was able to let go.”
When she looks back at the earlier stages of her career and life, Kreviazuk says she often wonders who that young woman was.
“How did she have those insights and those things to say? Now I try to come at things with so much more intention, because I don’t really know that I did that back then—it was all so unconscious.” She reflects. “Maybe I’m just saying the same things but in different ways. Maybe I’m getting to where I need to go—just in a different way.”
Kreviazuk will be performing in her hometown of Winnipeg alongside the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on August 28.