Stars singer-guitarist Amy Millan and bassist Evan Cranley talk about being new parents and Amy’s first Mother’s Day
On March 21 of this year, Amy and Evan welcomed Delphine Cranley to their family and the world. We asked them about this new parenthood venture they’ve got going and what thoughts it’s inspired.
Do you think Mother’s Day has lost its meaning?
Amy Millan: Mother’s Day should become more like Woman’s Day and less like Valentine’s Day. It (should) become a day that is about awareness and protest and charity. In terms of your own mother, you have no idea — no idea — how much love and sacrifice and work your mother did for you until you have your own kid. So your mother should get respect and phone calls and flowers all year round. It should not be designated to one day, ever.
Will Evan help you raise Delphine to think this way too?
AM: Oh, I’m just the luckiest person in the world. I have an equal partner where we tag team. The only thing he can’t do is breastfeed her. That’s my thing. I’m very lucky. I’m surrounded by a lot of incredibly feminist men. The guys in my band and the guys in my world; the community of people around me are just very respectful of women. Torquil (Campbell) has this thing, “Call your mother.” That’s a button of ours that he came up with years ago. Evan is unbelievable. I’m incredibly lucky to have somebody to lean on.
Can you tell us about Delphine?
AM: She’s a dreamboat. We’re really lucky; we have a pretty great baby. She’s pretty mild tempered very alert and wakeful, but when she’s awake she’s not screaming.
Will you play Stars music for Delphine?
AM: I did about six months of touring while she was inutero. So she’s got to be very familiar with the music already. She was inside me while I was playing it every night, all across the country.
She’s going to be present while we’re in rehearsals and it’s going to be a part of her life as much as it’s a part of our life. I don’t know how that will affect her memories, when she’s my age and she hears one of our songs, where in her blood will she be affected. What will come to her mind when she hears the songs? Songs and smells are just so tied into memory. What will that evoke in her? When I hear “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2, I’m in grade eight and I really want Patrick Johnson to dance with me. Right now all I’m listening to is Alison Krauss.
Will Delphine inspire any Stars work?
Evan Cranley: I think she already does. I’ve been working since January on the new stuff, and I think everything in life just means more. Not just music, but life in every aspect just means more. It’s changed me without me really even knowing. I don’t sit down and try to write a piece of music and capture what her feet look like, but there’s kind of an instinctual feeling, your heart just beats differently.
AM: You have to be careful with that kind of thing. I don’t know yet. She’s six weeks old and I haven’t really been focused on going back to work and writing yet. She’s inspiring me to feel more alive and live every second more than I’ve ever lived it. She’s inspiring in so many other ways. I don’t really know how that’s going to affect my music, but I don’t see it not affecting it.
Have she met all the Stars and Broken Social Scene members?
AM: Definitely our band (Stars) has been a big presence already; Uncle Patty, Uncle Chris, they’ve been over and Kev (Drew from Broken Social Scene) came over to meet her. He goes in slow with the newborns. He’s not sure how newborns feel about beards so he wanted to make sure that he took it slow.
How are rockstar parents different from other parents?
AM: I had Martha Wainwright come over and bring her son, who is just about a year old. I was picking her brain a lot because she’s been all around the world with him and he’s only a year. Istabul and Australia, et cetera. She had a lot of great advice and some notes and I know I’m going to lean on her a lot in terms of questions and fears. I think there’s this vaccine thing going on and some parents don’t know whether they want their kids vaccinated. Well, I’m going to Malaysia in six months, so for things like that, I’m definitely getting my kid vaccinated. For me, and a lot of women, you can really have a new, intense amount of anxiety about the care of your child. So, I am very nervous about how it’s going to work because we haven’t started yet. But once we get a good nanny and we get out there, it’s our work and it’s what we love to do and it’s part of being a parent — showing your child what you love and doing what you love and showing no fear. I want to be that person for her, so I think not doing it (performing, touring) would be worse for her than doing it.
EC: I think for some people, early on in their lives, they’re real artists. I think people who don’t have kids, I don’t know, maybe intense jazz musicians, their whole world is their art. They’re satisfied in life to just observe their artistic lifestyle. In that turn, it’s different for someone like me because I want a more well-rounded life. I’m totally committed to the music I do, but now family’s the most important thing to me. Music is still very important, but it’s not the be all and end all.
I’m still pretty new at it (the rockstar dad thing), but our next show is coming up on June 17 in Toronto and then we’ve got some shows on the West Coast and some shows in Ontario. The nanny is booked, the plane tickets are booked, the nanny’s hotel room is booked… we’re just kind of hitting the ground running with this and that’s the only way we can do it. We’re really excited to start this next chapter of our lives together. I’m really lucky because I’ve got a pretty great band around me. They’re not just my bandmates, they’re my friends. Amy and I are really lucky that way that we have this support within our community.
AM: We’re gearing up for June 17. So right now I’m trying to mentally gear up for that; being on stage and wondering, “Oh my God, is she hungry?” It’s going to be very weird for me.
How did you come up with Delphine?
AM: I knew one Delphine about 10 years ago, kind of a friend of a friend, and the name always stuck with me. We were going through names and one night it came to me at like 3:00 a.m. and Evan was lying next to me asleep. But I was really excited and I wanted to tell him, so I texted it to him. He always wakes up first and he looked at his phone and kinda woke me up and went, “Delphine?” But we didn’t tell a single person before she was born.
Evan’s sister had a baby two hours before I did. And Evan’s parents don’t have any other grandkids, so they became grandparents to two kids within two hours. We didn’t know his name either, and his name is Dashiell.
EC: Yeah! Rock-and-roll uncle, rock-and-roll dad all in one day! It’s pretty amazing.
What makes Amy a good mom?
EC: I tell Amy I love her everyday. If any husband or boyfriend or partner has been in a delivery room watching their child being born, you will hold your loved one in this place that is just unexplainable. You just feel so much love for what they’ve gone through and what they’ve done and what you’ve created together. My thing is just trying to show Amy everyday just how much I love her. But I’m also a traditional dude. I like to do a really nice dinner with a really nice bottle of wine. That’s my vibe.
Which of Amy’s traits do you think or hope Delphine will inherit?
EC: Her strength, her musicality, her capacity to love, her capacity for friendship. I hope she gets most of Amy’s traits.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Top photo via Amy Millan, bottom photo by Norman Wong via Freshly Pressed PR