Sarah Slean isn’t your average pop star. An accomplished musician and songwriter, she is also a visual artist, an actress and a cognitive science enthusiast—and she holds a degree in music and philosophy. Best known for pop hits like “Sweet Ones” and “Lucky Me,” Slean is currently working on a musical, and she’ll be on tour in the new year with her latest album, Land & Sea. Slean talked to up! from her home in Toronto about her latest project, her many interests and her love for the East Coast.
What is the musical about?
It’s called Emily and Vincent, and it’s a love story. Vincent is French and he’s a cellist from a poorly attended ballet, and Emily is English and works in a baker’s shop. They’re both kind of loners. They’re in a major city that neither of them belongs to. The overarching metaphor is the love story between English and French in Canada and how these two displaced cultures try to maintain their identity, but have to reinvent it to get along.
You compose, sing, paint, act. Is there anything you aren’t good at?
I wouldn’t say that’s a list of things I’m good at. It’s a list of things that I’m intensely interested in. I’m interested in life. If you think about it, the fact of existence is so bizarre and so endlessly interesting—that we are these blobs of flesh and intelligent cells and that we developed all of the stuff that you see around you; it makes you appreciate the life you’re living so much more. I think the best art comes from there—from that sense of awe and fascination.
So is that a no?
Oh, stop it! There are plenty of things I’m no good at. Ask my husband [musician Royal Wood]. He does all the cooking. You don’t want me to cook a meal for you.
Where is the best place to eat in Toronto?
I love to go to Terroni on Queen. It’s really tasty. They have an excellent wine list. It’s not fussy at all. The service is great, and the prices are very reasonable. I also like the Easy Restaurant at Queen and Roncesvalles. It’s a very unpretentious breakfast spot.
Do you have a favourite place to visit in Canada?
There is something to the East Coast that really draws me. I love the air, the people. Halifax is just really charming and the perfect combination of small town and city. I have a soft spot in my heart for Newfoundland, as well.
Any favourite spots in Halifax?
Pete’s Frootique. It’s great for picking up snacks for the plane. My favourite restaurant is the Wooden Monkey. When I was in Halifax recently, I ate there about four times.