Inuvik-based artist Abe Drennan says producing an album inside the town's famed Igloo Church was "one of the most challenging experiences" of his career.
Drennan's second album, The Iglu Sessions, was recorded inside Inuvik's Our Lady of Victory Church and published last Thursday.
The album, produced by Los Angeles-based Jason Manns, includes 10 songs described as “personal accounts of living in the North on traditional land of the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in people ... stories of loss, hope and healing for the future."
Drennan says the album took four years to complete, and finishing it is a "dream come true."
"You know, it's completely surreal. I can't believe it's done, you know? To finally see it out there is an incredibly rewarding experience. I'm really proud of it," he told Cabin Radio.
Drennan released his first album, We All Have Dreams, in 2015, after which he began preparing more songs.
He described thinking: "I could record these in my kitchen or I could use this beautiful church that we have in our community as a recording studio."
With support from the NWT Arts Council, the idea came to life.
"Coming from Ontario where support for musicians and independent artists is few and far between, into the NWT where the support is readily available like that, I was totally blown away," said Drennan. "It was thanks to them that I was able to kind-of start to see this become reality."
In 2017, while recording, a family close to Drennan was killed in a car crash involving a drunk driver.
He wrote a song, Spirit Soared, to commemorate the victims. A relative of the family subsequently helped producer Manns travel up from Los Angeles to work with Drennan.
"Once I met Jason, things started to roll differently. I realized I could lean on him a little bit," said Drennan.
A submitted photo of the "Igloo Church" at night.
Abe Drennan recording inside the church. Submitted photo
"We didn't have a lot of time together, so I was like, 'What do you think about helping me do the rest of the album?' He totally jumped on board with me."
Drennan grew up in a musical family and learned how to play guitar from his dad, then busked in Montreal subways and played open-mics while attending university.
"When I realized I could write it down, sing it out, and feel better, then [music] became my life," he recalled.
Now a teacher, Drennan lives in Inuvik with his wife and children. He's hoping to earn a spot at festivals like Folk on the Rocks in the future.