JAMES STRECKER: If you were asked for 50 words for an encyclopedia to summarize what you do, or have done, in the arts, what would you say?

LORI YATES: Singer, songwriter, creative spirit, writer, photographer, promoter.

JS: What important beliefs do you express in or through your work?

LY: I think my work expresses: hope, determination, triumph over fear.

JS: Name two people, living or dead, whom you admire a great deal and tell us why for each one.

LY: Patti Smith the poet/musician for the connection with both the words & music. Frida Kahlo because of her sheer desire to create. Both strong women mentors.

JS: How have you changed since you began to do creative work?

LY: I’m not sure how I’ve changed since I’ve been doing creative work since I was a young gal of 11 years old, when I started writing poetry daily. I began songwriting at age of 14, and went into music professionally at 18.

JS: What are your biggest challenges as a creative person?

LY: Probably time management! I have tons of ideas and often there’s not enough hours in the day to complete them all. I battle with the depression of rejection, so I just try to keep my head down and do the work, not look for results.

JS: Please describe at least one major turning point in your life.

LY: A major turning point was when I decided to quit my job at the community centre and use the ticket that Sony had sent me to fly to New York to meet with them about a recording contract. It was the first time I was on a plane.

JS: What are the hardest things for an outsider to understand about what you do?

LY: Maybe the hardest thing to understand is how many different things I do; music gigs, run songwriting workshops, private mentoring lessons, photography,

JS: How and why did you begin to do creative work in the first place?

LY: I had a burning desire to create that just wouldn’t go away. It started with writing, morphed into singing and songwriting.

JS: What haven’t you attempted as yet that you would like to do and please tell us why?

LY: I started writing short stories, poems when I was a wee kid but when I got older music really took over and I mostly wrote in the form of songwriting. Lately I’m drawn back to the beauty of words alone. I’m really fascinated by memoirs so I might try to pursue that style of writing.

JS: What are your most meaningful achievements?

LY: Having my lyrics immortalized in steel in Gore Park, being given a City of Hamilton Arts Award, Juno awards.

JS: What advice would you give a young person who would like to do what you do?

LY: My advice would be very corny; follow your heart, find your own voice and never give up.

JS: Of what value are critics?

LY: I love a good review and bad ones hurt but in the end its just one person’s opinion.

JS: What do you ask of your audience?

LY: That they have a good time, listen a little but not religiously lol

JS: What specifically would you change about what goes on in the world and the arts?

LY: I’d like to see artists be able to have more of a living wage, have street artists have more respect here in Canada.

JS: If you could relive one experience from your creative life, what would it be and why would you do so?

LY: It may be the first time I heard my song on commercial radio. I dropped to my knees, shrieking, the bacon burning in the pan. My boyfriend thought someone had died.

JS: Tell us what it feels like to be a figure who is presented somehow in the media. What effect does this presence have on you?

LY: Years ago I was a guest on the Tommy Hunter show. I had a room on Indian Rd, in a “dirty mansion”. My old landlord saw the broadcast, and immediately tried to raise my rent, the assumption being; you’re on TV, you must be rich riding around in limos. Social media is definitely a false reality.

JS: Name two places you would like to visit, one you haven’t been to and one to experience again and briefly tell us why.

LY: Definitely Mexico…would go back there in a second. I feel a big connection. And I guess my ancestral homeland of Ireland where I haven’t been yet but hope to soon.

JS: Please tell us about one or more projects that you have been working on, are preparing, or have recently completed. Why do they matter to you and why should they matter to us.

LY: I’m putting together some of my black & white iphoneography photos for a show “Chasing Shadow & Light” which will take place at Hotel Hamilton boardroom 195 James St. North during May art crawl…Friday May 12, 7pm

JS: Let’s talk about the state of the arts in today’s society, including the forms in which you work. What specifically gives you hope and what specifically do you find depressing?

LY: Well the whole middle class has fallen out of music, the days of 5 night gigs are long gone, as are most of the record companies. Musicians these days must be their own; agent, manager, record company, publicist, web site designer, poster designer. I find all this extra work tiring and depressing, but at the same time liberating. At least when something is working, you know why because you’re doing it yourself!

JS: Finally, what do you yourself find to be the most intriguing and/or surprising thing about you?

LY: Ok, this may be the most difficult question; I’m not sure there’s anything intriguing about me! But what might be a tad surprising is that I’m a bit of a book nerd who, as much as I come off as an extravert, I usually need to spend at least half the day alone to feel balanced. An introverted extrovert, my friend wisely called me.

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