Opening a box of freshly pressed CDs, Penticton singer-songwriter Kym Gouchie felt 15 years of struggles come to an end.
“Holding that first CD I felt like my whole life was in my hands, all that hard work,” said Gouchie, who received shipment of her debut EP, Mountain of Youth, recently.
“I have been working towards this my whole life, now it is all right here in this package. It is just incredible.”
Although it was a rough path taking her to this goal she set, it was also a process of healing. In 2013, her niece Brittany died of an overdose, the following month Gouchie got evicted from her apartment and then the car she just finished paying off broke down a month later.
“When Brittany died it absolutely shook my soul. It reached the core of my being and I was the most vulnerable I have ever been. I finally surrendered to all these bad things happening to me and then all these songs started to come out,” said Gouchie.
The title track, Mountain of Youth, is written for her niece. Gouchie said she knew fate had lead her to realize her goal when she unwrapped the first CD and slid it into her car stereo.
“My niece and I had this connection with butterflies ever since she was little. I would always buy her things with butterflies on them. The day after she died a butterfly ran into my vehicle and it was still alive so I grabbed it and released it. Since then I see butterflies everywhere,” explained Gouchie. “As soon as I put the CD in the player and started driving a butterfly flew right across my car in my eyes’ view.”
Gouchie had been living in her niece’s bedroom since she died and said she has done a lot of deep healing being in her home. Knowing how painful the death was for Brittany’s sister, Gouchie took the first album and slid it under her bedroom door. As she was leaving the house Gouchie said she glanced back and saw a butterfly pass by the bedroom window.
“I have dealt with so many struggles these past 15 years, overcoming domestic violence, abuses as a child and have come to terms with them and learning how to forgive, heal and move on. That is what my music is to me, letting go. I feel like this album represents the journey I have been on,” said Gouchie.
Gouchie took stress leave from work because life had knocked her down so hard. She began working on herself and writing songs when the opportunity for a First Peoples’ Cultural Council Aboriginal Arts Development Award to help with costs for the album arose. Through the recording process, her country/traditional/folk style evolved, taking on an eclectic and danceable form. Her sound was forged by collaborating with well-known musician, artist and teacher Thurein Myint, the owner of the Summerland-based Ellis Avenue Analog Studio.
“Kym is a very powerful singer/songwriter and tells great stories that are close to nature, her native roots, and the human heart. I’m glad we captured her voice directly onto tape. I’m very proud to have her album be the studio’s first release,” acknowledges Myint.
One of the most powerful songs for Gouchie on the album is in honour of those who went through the residential schools. Not all of the songs have such heavy themes.
“I wrote a song for my dad and it reflects on his humour, personality, his Elvis hair and Cadillacs. Then there is another song about northern life talking about train whistles blowing, the moon in the dark sky and huckleberry picking which is really all about family,” said Gouchie. “I think people from all walks of life will be able to connect to the songs. Everyone has lost someone, broken up and moved away from home.”
With her debut EP in hand and celebrating the release of Mountain of Youth on Saturday at Penticton’s Orchard House Theatre, Gouchie has already set her next goal.
“I want a Juno. I think this could take me there,” said Gouchie.
The release party is an all-ages event. Tickets are $20, children 12 and under are free, and are available at Classic Guitars and the Penticton Art Gallery. Each ticket-holder receives a signed copy of the album.
Gouchie will also have Michelle Prystay of VIP Mobile Spa at the event to paint people’s nails purple in honour of the song about picking huckleberry’s.