Taking a turn down an uncharted road, seeing where it leads, is an everyday conscious choice for Joey O’Neil. The Yukon-based multi-talented singer-songwriter set out on her last tour in the midst of 2021 shutdowns, booking a string of gigs not in clubs, bars or cafes—but municipal dog parks.
“I was trying to think of ways to do socially distanced outdoor concerts, and what spaces made the most sense for the theme of the album,” O’Neil remembers. “Since I sing so much about adventures with my dog—at that point we had driven across the country eight times—I came up with the dog park tour.”
“No dogs were tipping me, so it definitely was not lucrative. But I’m so glad I did it. And I only had one dog bark at me until I put my guitar away,” she laughs.
Leaving her native Toronto behind a decade ago, O’Neil quickly settled into her new life, across the river from Dawson City where she lives in a tiny, off-grid cabin. “I just fell in love with the community. It’s an interesting, artsy, queer corner of the world. It felt like a nice place, far enough from where I grew up, to come into myself in a different way.”
“Yukon is great for creating, reflecting and being inspired, but not amazing for networking,” Joey says of her current extended pitstop in Ontario, where she’s finishing up her third album, set for release later this summer. A more traditional tour is lined up for the fall, the tail end of which will take her back to her beloved remote community.
“The new album was mostly written in the Yukon. The songs are mainly stories about intangibles, more ethereal things,” she says, “I don’t want to say ghost stories, but sort of phantom-focused.
Joey will be showcasing her new work (and her thereamin!) in Ontario this summer, including at the North by Northeast music festival and Canadian Music Week. “I’m really excited to put some new stuff out there,” she says.