Surrey-raised cabaret comedian Shirley Gnome is hoping to take her career up a notch with an album called, ahem, “Taking It Up The Notch.”
Known for explicit lyrics and a gorgeous voice, Gnome is working with Vancouver-based 604 Records for the album’s official release on Friday (Oct. 20).
“It’s huge, having this happen,” Gnome told the Now-Leader.
She grew up “near the flats below Panorama Ridge, in the farming area,” and went to high school in Langley with the producer/musician known as Kevvy, with whom she recorded “Taking It Up The Notch” over the past year or so.
“Basically it was him and me, we played most of the instruments, and then we had a couple people and help finish the rest,” Gnome explained. “I was writing it while we were recording it, so we’d go out and do little shows and figure out this material. It was very frenetic and fast and super exciting.”
Wedged in there was a three-month tour of Australia for Gnome, whose website Bio section is filled with rave reviews from around the globe. She’s been called “rich, raunchy and riotous.” Another writer wondered how a woman with “such a beautiful, pure voice have such a dirty, dirty mind?” A post at CBC.ca noted, “There’s scarcely a facet of human sexual relations Gnome doesn’t seem able to turn into a hilarious song. And yes, provided you’re not terribly modest, you will laugh. A lot. Gnome is frank, completely uninhibited, and a smart comedian.”
For Gnome, things in the comedy world really took off in the fall of 2012, when she was crowned Patrick Maliha’s The People’s Champ of Comedy in a contest that netted her a cool $20,000.
“It was a big deal for me, and definitely a reason why I’ve been able to keep going all these years,” Gnome said. “It was a pivotal moment in my career, for sure. It basically made my career.”
As booking agents took notice of her X-rated jokes set to music, Gnome made a name for herself at fringe festivals and comedy shows from Vancouver to New Zealand and beyond.
And now, a comedy album – among four to be released by 604 Records over the next six months, with others recorded by Gavin Matts, Charlie Demers and Kyle Bottom.
“Each of these albums has its own unique flavour of comedy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all nominated for the Best Comedy Record award that was recently reinstated at the JUNOS,” stated Jonathan Simkin, a lawyer who co-owns 604 with Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger.
Simkin says he was shocked to learn that Best Comedy Album had been removed as a JUNO category years ago.
“I initiated a dialogue with CARAS (Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), brought in some key people from the comedy world to continue that discussion, and am thrilled that the comedy category will be returning for the JUNOs in Vancouver next year. We love having the opportunity to work with the amazing comedic talent within Canada, and this is only the beginning. 604 Records plans to continue signing the best in Canadian comedy, and will be releasing additional albums next year.”
Gnome will mark the release of “Taking It Up The Notch” with a “big live-stream event” this Sunday (Oct. 22), starting at 3 p.m. at facebook.com/ShirleyGnomeOfficial, and a video to be shot with award-winning director Stephano Barberis, who lives in the Cloverdale area.
“We just had a meeting (with Barberis),” Gnome reported a couple of weeks ago. “He’s a super excellent guy and is very well known for making excellent videos, so I’m really excited to have him polish the turd that I am,” she said with a wicked laugh.
As for Surrey, the city isn’t entirely in Gnome’s rear-view mirror.
“My parents still live there, and I come back to visit quite a bit because my parents are fricking awesome!” she said. “That’s great, but right now I like to say I’m between homes because I lived in Vancouver for, gee, eight or nine years, in an old house that got sold and knocked down, so I had to leave. I started touring quite a bit and put all my stuff in storage and I haven’t really settled down since then, and that was about a year and a half ago.
“I have a van here in the Lower Mainland that I park in Surrey every so often,” she added, “so sometimes I like to say I live in a van in Surrey. That’s accurate.”