The inspiration & stories behind the songs of Acceptance


Connor: One evening my parents came home after walking our dog Cleo while I worked out a new idea on the piano in the living room. When I finished playing my Dad said, ‘You know Connor, listening to that piece – I couldn’t help but think of Cole.’

‘Well, interestingly enough. That’s who I was thinking about.’

I called the song Acceptance because it was about 3 or 4 months after Cole’s passing and by then I had slowly grown to accept that my best friend was gone. I shared the idea with Cordelia and she felt likewise.

Acceptance was originally in 4/4 time and when I shared the demo with our producer Larry Roy he said, ‘you know, I hear it in 3/4.’ (waltz time). So we tried it and loved it! 

Cordelia: The working title of this track was already Acceptance when Connor sent me the file, a topic I was already trying to wrap my head around. To me, acceptance doesn’t mean moving on, but moving forward. Nothing is left behind – you just learn to carry it with you. 

I am reminded of Cole every day and I seek my acceptance in the comfort of these reminders. A giggle I inherited from him, a song that he showed me, a shared opinion, these things make me miss him deeply, but they are a part of who I am. Acceptance is being right here, right now, as I am.


Connor: Here’s a song that I wrote as a 14 year old that my cousin Matt Derraugh – who was also 14 and a real wordsmith – set to lyrics. I used to perform this with my old rock band, So Many Roads, with my pubescent self on vocals. I had a blast with that band but unfortunately we dissolved when I suffered my brain hemorrhage at 15. 

Here Cordelia’s voice and Larry Roy’s production and horn arrangement take this song to a whole other stratosphere. I thought it fit with our project for Cole as the message is, ‘I wanna tell you, tell that I love you, and I just hope that you agree.’


Connor:  This song was inspired by See You Again by Charlie Puth. I found myself playing, See You Again over and over while thinking about Cole after his passing. When I wrote SYOTOS – as Larry Roy calls it – my mind was set on looking forward to meeting Cole one day on the other side, wherever that happens to be. Again, the music and the title were all the guidance that I gave Cordelia.

We’d completely finished recording SYOTOS and after Larry completed the rough mix he said to me, ‘I have a buddy in Vancouver, Darryl Havers who’s a whiz at Moog and synthesizers. I’d like to send it to him and see what he comes up with.’ 

What Darryl came up with was brilliant and it really added to the atmosphere and texture of the song. Darryl truly found the best spaces and places to accentuate. Bringing Darryl aboard was yet another great suggestion by Larry. 

Cordelia: For a while after Cole passed, I worked at the same store that Cole had worked at while we were together. I found myself making the same commute he had done every morning and evening, looking at the same sidewalk he did, getting the same breakfast, choosing the same crosswalk. These commutes were both comforting and challenging. I appreciate these little reminders as I think they keep him very present in my mind. The other side, in my mind, can be whatever you need it to be. For me, the other side is a dream. 


Connor: This is Cordelia’s song for Cole. Cordelia came up with the melody and lyrics and passed it on to me to create the chords and the music. This is the first time that I’ve written a song that way and it gave me a new perspective on songwriting. I love the lyrics that Cordelia writes, she’s a real storyteller. I remember at the studio Larry Roy being blown away by her ability to not only write lyrics, but to come up with lyrics on the spot when we needed to make a change or addition to a song. 

Cordelia: Many of the sentiments in this song are ones I expressed to Cole in various dreams I had after his passing. In this song, I speak to Cole. 

RMB (featuring Ismaila Alfa)

Connor:  RMB is an abbreviation for the working title of the song, Robert Meets Bill. When Bill Withers passed away, Robert Glasper posted an Instagram video of himself talking with Bill at a studio. 

I had just met Robert a few months previous and I was fortunate to talk to him at length. I even got to play at his late night jams! Robert’s video inspired my thoughts and my music. While noodling at the piano I came up with a Glasper-ish A section idea which transitioned into a Bill Withers-like B section. 

When Cole lived in Vancouver he spearheaded a monthly open mic rap jam called, Hip-Hopalypse. Being a drummer, Cole loved rap as it’s all about rhythm, so I thought it would be cool to include a rap song on the CD. 

I first met Ismaila Alfa back in 2013 when he interviewed me for a CBC national radio special, ‘The Power of Music.’ Over the years since I’d bumped into Ismaila at various events in Winnipeg and I always found him to be a great guy and also a killer rapper. 

So I contacted Ismaila – who had moved to Toronto to host CBC’s morning radio show – to see if he’d be interested in laying down some words on the Glasper section, complimented by Cordelia’s vocals on the Bill Withers section. I told Ismaila that I totally trusted his judgement knowing that he’d come up with an amazing concept. Ismaila picked up on the vibe and felt that it should be about friendship – which couldn’t have been more appropriate given the albums theme. 

Cordelia: Sometimes I do what my partner calls a “blink” where I disappear, sometimes for hours, into a sort of mental void. Maybe I should talk to a professional, or maybe I should just enjoy the breaks from reality.


Connor: Most of our CD was written during the pandemic and this song was no exception – as you can tell from the title. Typically, when I write songs, I use a random word or phrase as the working title, just so that I know what song it is. Lockdown was the first word that came to mind and it stuck. Cordelia set the piece to words with the only direction from me being the title and the music.

Cordelia: I had a blast writing this song! I will say, this is in no way a song in opposition of the important measures that were taken to protect many lives, but rather a snapshot of my own experience with cacophonous zoom calls, transit anxiety and the hope that gets me through those things. I was so determined to nurture the friendships I had that I started serving pancakes out of my window on Saturdays, as a way of keeping our community connected. It was ridiculous but very effective. Pancake Saturday is now iconic and I think it would make a great band name someday.


Connor: Four months after Cole passed, another good friend of mine, Yoo Jin Kim lost her only sibling, a sister, Hee Jin to cancer tragically at 23 years. I met Yoo Jin in high school, where I also met Cole. We played in jazz and concert band together and have remained good friends since. Although I’ve never experienced losing a sibling, I was saddened for Yoo Jin and I wanted to do something to express how I felt. So, I sat down at the piano and while I played I tried to empathize with her – tried to put myself in Yoo Jin’s shoes and somehow imagine how she felt. I made a solo piano recording and sent it to Yoo Jin as a way of reaching out.


Connor:  I’ve had this piece in my back pocket for a while. It came to me while waiting at the piano for a vocalist who always seemed to be 10 to 15 minutes late for rehearsal. She texted to say she was running late but was on her way, so I started noodling around and came up with the riff. When she walked in she started grooving and said, ‘what is this?’

‘I don’t know, I just came up with it!’

‘Well what’s it called?’

‘…………………Waiting on You.’

I had accompanied Cordelia on Amy Winehouse’s arrangement of, ‘There Is No Greater Love’ at Cole’s service. It was the first time we’d ever played together and I was blown away by her voice! 

At a restaurant after the service, I asked if she’d be interested in writing lyrics for some of my songs. Cordelia was all in! This was the first piece I sent her and she nailed it! I felt an immediate connection with Cordelia and knew that she was the one that I wanted to write and record music with!

Cordelia: When Connor sent me this track, I don’t think I was quite ready to write about Cole. A few months earlier I had an amicable breakup, but still one where I had some feelings that I needed to get out. It was a fun outlet that showed me that working with Connor could produce something really cool. I must have just needed to write, because I think I wrote these lyrics and melody the day he sent the track. The rest of the project was not so efficient (Connor is a master of patience and I am an anxious procrastination goblin) but I am so pleased that we created this wonderful project together. This album, for me, was a tool that I used to channel my grief and move through it in a healthy way. 


Connor: I wrote the music to this piece a few years back. I shared it with singer/songwriter Sherry St. Germain at a composition lesson I had with her – Sherry’s the daughter of my long time piano teacher Glory and daughter of Canadian music icon Ray St. Germain. Sherry suggested that I start on the V (5) chord rather than the I (1) chord on the verse. Her idea took the tune in a whole new direction. 

I shared the piece with Cordelia with no title or guidance and she came up with a beautiful story, another Cordelia journey in storytelling. I think the lyrics fit perfectly! 

Cordelia: This album was a way for me to channel my grief and find the words to explain feelings I could never have imagined. In the aftermath of this loss, I was thinking about the important people in my life and wanted to write a song that followed the story of my relationship with my parents. I think I saw my parents more as adversaries for a lot of my early and teen years, but through some distance and change, we were able to come back to each other in a new light. I am very proud of the ways everyone in my family has grown and I am inspired by that pride when cultivating other relationships in my life. 


Connor: I wrote this during the early stages of the pandemic while dealing with Cole’s passing. This piece can be applied to many situations in life and it’s one of the major go to’s that I used to cope with my traumatic brain injury in 2010. My motto is, whenever you go through anything tough in life, if you can look at it with a positive attitude, it won’t be as hard to handle. Attitude is a choice we make. We all face challenges at some time in our lives. The message is, no matter what curve balls life throws you – and how bleak life may appear – look for the positives and they will light your way out.

FAR TOO SOON (featuring Alan Curtis Ediger)

Connor: One morning my Dad got a call from Cole Ediger’s Dad Alan, telling us that Cole had passed in his sleep. My world was rocked, my best friend was gone. 

That afternoon, I sat down at the piano and a song poured out of me, a complete piece – from beginning to end, all in one take. It was the first time I’d written a song like this, based solely on emotion. Tears were streaming down my face as I played, but I just had to get it out. I think my grief had allowed me to tap directly into my soul. 

I played the piece at Cole’s service a week later and at the reception afterwards,  Alan came up to me and said, ‘I heard words when you were playing your song, would you mind if I write lyrics to it?’

‘I’d love that,’ I replied. ‘That would make for a perfect tribute.’

Understandably, it took a while before Alan was able to find the words, but I was so touched by what he wrote. His lyrics are so incredibly beautiful and heartfelt. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Alan to not only write them but sing them in the studio. I’m really grateful that he found a way. 

After we finished recording and rough mixing ‘Far Too Soon’ Larry Roy said, ‘I hear a Hammond B3 in this song. I don’t have a B3 but Joey Landreth (of the Landreth Brothers) does and I’m sure he’d let us use it.’

So, Larry and I went down to Joey’s studio and Joey recorded me on his B3. Joey was so great to work with, a real pro and so supportive. The B3’s place in the song may be somewhat subtle, but as with so many of Larry’s suggestions, it added another dimension of depth and emotion that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

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