Colleen Rennison is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She’s worked in films with Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Minnie Driver, Tom Arnold, Rachael Leigh Cook, Kathleen Turner, Mila Kunis, and many more. None of this I knew when I first heard her voice. A voice that is simply stunning.
I stumbled across Colleen on YouTube. Her band “No Sinner” was under recommendations. My first thought was, what a cool name. I found out later it’s her last name “Rennison” spelled backwards. I clicked the video and the music began. Within the first few notes I could hear those Delta Blues, muddy and smeared with life dripping from the guitarist’s amplifier. Then came Colleen’s voice soulful, strong, and raw with emotion.
I sat watching song after song, blown away at the sound of an old soul singing in this almost forgotten style. I say almost, because in our overstimulated world flooded with perfectly polished music, real talent is hard to find. So when you run across someone of Colleen’s caliber you instantly take notice.
The next morning waiting to clock in for work I looked her up on the web. I followed her and within a few hours she followed me back. A few weeks passed and I decided to reach out and see if she would do an interview. The next day she wrote back and agreed.
So this is Colleen Rennison.
Have you always been drawn to the blues as a musician?
I think so, I’ve always been drawn to anything with soul and pain... I’d say the blues has a lot of that.
When writing lyrics do you pull from journal entries or is writing songs a more spontaneous action for you?
I definitely go back into old journals if I manage to keep my hands on them. Sometimes it’s painful but it’s worth it. When you’re in the throes of a feeling you might not be in the position to sit down and write a song about it, but to jot down something is key, even if it doesn’t seem significant at the time it can be very valuable in the future when you have time to reflect and write.
Which artists inspired you when you were starting out, and still inspires you today?
I listened to a lot of Etta James, Aretha, Martha Reeves, Nina Simone... still do. My musical tastes have expanded slightly but never really changed.
I noticed you ride a motorcycle. What kind do you have, and how long have you been riding?
I’ve been riding for about 3 years now, taught myself after a bad breakup and I moved to Saskatoon. Haven’t looked back since.
While riding your bike and enjoying the open road do lyrics or lines for songs come to you?
I started riding to clear my head, but turns out it just spins in circles like your wheels. When I’ve got nothing but my thoughts sometimes they’ll start to sound like a song and end up writing themselves into one.
What have you been working on lately in music or film that you would like the reader to check out?
I just came back to Vancouver from Austin for The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) where a film I was in called “Kingsway” showed. It’s a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family where I play Lori, a pregnant singer who rides a motorcycle (the only real stretch was on my T-shirt for that one). I wrote a few songs that made it into the film, and I’m hoping to flesh them out into an EP soon. Also, Colin James just released his new album and I’ve got some backup vocals on it. You should check it out! It’s a great album!