“You could tell me anything, just don’t tell me lies” sings Katherine Simons and Will Richards on one of the new songs, “Walk Me Home Tonight”, a song they tell me is about the night they met. “A fan said we sing like we’re in love,” says Will, something that is apparent to me as their casual laughter often intertwines, complimenting moments where they seemingly want to finish each other’s thoughts, but respectfully and organically synchronize their answers.
“The Unreliable Narrators” is the name of the Co-Conspirators new album. A name that Will and Katherine have put considerable thought into. Will explains, “it’s a literary term of someone who is telling you a story, but you have to figure out what is the truth within that story.” The explanation prompts me to ask if the songs are about people they know. They both reveal that to be true and take a moment to share some intimate insights. In a moment of reflection and transparency, Will reveals that the song “Young Billy” is about himself with references to events of his upbringing. Katherine also reveals her personal connection to the song “You Shone So Bright”, which is about the death of her best friend’s daughter. It’s a rare moment, one that as a listener you should cherish because you get to hear the creativity of the music with the context that adds to the listening experience as you process all of it, helping you make your own connections. There is no doubt that Will and Katherine can take you to your thinking place. While the careful consideration of branding continues its artistic impression through the colour selection of the album as Will explains how it reflects “old penguin books”, I become more deeply aware that the Co-Conspirators have all sorts of gems, some more visible than others, each carefully placed in their music and presentation. The fact they can do this in a mostly now digital or online experience is a tribute to their artistic commitment.
They use that combination of commitment and talent to also acknowledge, inform, and tackle anti-racism. Will and Katherine became quite passionate as we discussed their song, “The Lonesome Death of Elijah McClain”, a title which I both borrowed and honoured for a short article I wrote reflecting on Black History Month. “Ain’t causing trouble, ain’t up to no good. I’d like to go home please sir if I could”. In those two lines they capture so much of what we’ve come to know about Elijah’s gentleness, but also the horrifying experience in that moment leading to his death. The song is rich and deep, giving me goosebumps at times as it pulls me into that moment. If you don’t know anything about Elijah McClain, I suspect you’ll want to read more about him after you hear this song.
This song as do the others, showcase Will and Katherine’s deep musical backgrounds. They are also happy to share how so many of their family are musically inclined. As it becomes increasingly obvious how much music is part of their very fabric, I jokingly ask if Katherine brings the calm to the storm, after Will describes their different but complimentary musical backgrounds. That question draws a chuckle from Will and agreement from Katherine as we all laugh together.
Will and Katherine are touring Canada, heading back from Vancouver to Quebec at the time of our interview. They’re looking to continue touring in the coming months as they promote the new album, “The Unreliable Narrators”. Until you can see them live, their music and other content is available through their website, https://theco-conspirators.com/music . You can also hear them on The Path Radio Mix (http://thepathradio.com) during the Mini-Concert Monday segments, where three songs from the same artist are played consecutively (and both Will and Katherine have their own favourite three that will be alternated). The full interview with more insights, stories, and music is published in the March episode of The Go On with Guido Podcast (https://something4everyone.guidopiraino.com).