Need advice on love, sex, relationships, the music biz or have a confession to get off your chest? Ask Amy Millan.
Dear Amy: Hi, I see you are doing holiday shows. That’s awesome, I love holiday music, especially Christmas carols but struggle with the whole religious bit. How do you negotiate secular versus non-secular and Christian but also include other cultures? I like to blend woke with my Wenceslas. Thanks. — WOKE WENCESLAS
Dear WW: I am not a religious person but I have always loved Christmas. To me, it is about the pure joy of having a pine tree in your house and decorating it in lights and cherished ornaments. I am a sort of pagan, and it is no coincidence that almost all religions have some holiday/celebration near the solstice. It is also about the day being at its darkest, but the nights beginning to finally become lighter. If that’s not a Stars song, I don’t know what is! I think our music is inclusive enough that anyone from any cultural background can come celebrate what it is to be lonely with us. Fairytale of New York is about the misfits and it is no fairytale — we want to commune with all the weirdos no matter what gods you believe in.
Dear Amy: I salute the new awareness of mental health but it feels like all my friends are invoking one syndrome or another and I wonder if they are using this is as a crutch? Is it possible to be too “aware” of mental health challenges, to the point of not taking responsibility for one’s situation? – MENTAL HEALTH MUSER
Dear Muser: I think it is hard to know what another person is going through. With the past two years, having lived through a pandemic, it is a wonder not everyone gets a whole year off to just recuperate from all that fear. There are a million things that can affect a person’s mental well-being: bad sleep, bad food, hormonal changes, hereditary mental illness — the list goes on. Empathy is always the kindest code as it may be one day you who wake up feeling mentally unwell and wonder if people are taking you seriously about it. Compassion is good for the brain.
Dear Amy: Now that you’re touring again, what is the biggest assumption people make about you, in other countries, because you are Canadian? Also, I assume at some point — maybe still — your band members shared driving duties. What if someone was a shitty driver, how did you tell them without them being mad? Or do you just buckle up and hope? — DRIVE, SHE SAID
Dear DSS: They assume we are all in Broken Social Scene. Which I actually am so, it doesn’t bother me one bit! I joke. The biggest false assumption is that we are a “nice” country. What they need reminding of is we caused a genocide to our Indigenous people and there are still 34 reservations that don’t have clean water. We have a lot of truth and reconciliation to face. We don’t tax the rich enough and we are not dealing with the homeless population with any real humanity as encampments continue to be removed from parks across the country. The premier of Ontario just tried to stop education workers from having the right to strike, not to mention the green belt he is trying to decimate, and the premier of Quebec is consistently passing racist, fascist bills. We have a lot of work to do to become the “nice” country people think we are.
I only go in the vehicle Patty McGee, our drummer, is driving. He is the captain. No one else is as steady at the wheel. It has been this way for 20 years!
Dear Amy: I just did my first semester of second year with my best friend as my roommate. It’s been great, but I want to live on my own in the new year. I’m afraid if I tell her this, it will fuck up our relationship and she will think I am abandoning her. I just want to see what it’s like to live on my own — no reflection on her. How do I get into my new challenge without wrecking old friendship? — FRIENDSHIP FEARFUL
Dear Fearful: Friendship goes both ways. I try, in mine, to have a no-judgement policy. I want my friends to do what makes them happy and if that means cancelling a plan with me or moving cities, I want to be a support to them, not a reflection of what they aren’t doing for me. If your friend has your back, she will be sad for a minute but encouraging to you to find the path that suits you best. You can always throw in how fun it will be to have her over for dinner and maybe some sleepovers for old times. Rooms are just rooms, but mates are forever.
Amy Millan is a Canadian indie rock singer and guitarist. She records and performs with Stars and Broken Social Scene and has a successful solo career. Have a question for Amy? firstname.lastname@example.org
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