Hawksley Workman may be the hardest working artist in Canadian music.
In the last 14 years, he's recorded more than a dozen albums, performed upwards of 1,000 shows worldwide, acted in a handful of films, started his own record label and produced albums by such Canadian standouts as Great Big Sea, and Tegan and Sara.
But the 37-year-old singer-songwriter - who performs Saturday evening at Surrey's Fusion Festival - says he isn't burned out by the constant schedule of recording, touring, acting and producing.
"It's a business where, when you're young and you're poor and you're broke and you're struggling and you're trying to get in, you don't really forget those days," he said. "I think most musicians are kind of the same. You really can't leave this thing you've built to rest."
Growing up in Huntsville, Ont., some 215 kilometres north of Toronto, Workman's first exposure to music was through his father's record collection. He gained respect for a wide variety of genres that translated to his own musical style, ranging from hard rock to folk, to even dance and pop.
"I've had a little bit of commercial success, but for the most part, I kind of feel a bit on the outside of music scenes," he said, noting he doesn't think he could commit to one type of music for his entire career.
"I've just sort of lived in my own lane. My songs have always been a sidelined view of this rich, beautiful absurdity. We continue to play this funny game of life."
Workman has had a series of highcharting singles, including "Striptease," "Smoke Baby," "Anger as Beauty" and "Jealous of Your Cigarette," which won him a Juno for Best Video in 2002. For the last decade, he's made creative music videos to go along with his unique mix of genres.
"Music videos are still this wonderful outlet and an interesting way to put visual elements to music," he said, adding that YouTube has become the on-demand replacement for the constant video rotation on MTV and MuchMusic in the 1980s.
"I'd give anything to have been at the board room meeting that said that ZZ Top was going to be a marketable commodity to the American youth. Forty-year-old guys with beards and carpet guitars and cars - there was such a brilliant naivetÃ© to when they first came out."
In preparation for his next record, Workman is doing a series of festivals across Canada this summer, including this weekend's Fusion Festival at Holland Park in Surrey. While he has performed everywhere from intimate theatres to hockey arenas, he likes outdoor concerts because they allow his music to reach people who might not otherwise hear it.
"It's amazing when you're in front of a large group of curious music fans," he said. "They want to buy a CD, they want to stumble into something new, they want to discover something that they haven't heard before. It's just a different vibe altogether."
Workman is slated to hit the Concord Pacific World Music Stage on Saturday at 8: 45 p.m. He will be joined onstage by his keyboardist Todd "Mr. Lonely" Lumley and drummer Brad Kilpatrick. Admission is free.
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