The List: 10 things singer-songwriter Sarah Slean can’t live without

The List: 10 things singer-songwriter Sarah Slean can’t live without

1 | My mini paints
I got these when I was on tour in Stockholm in 2004. They’re the perfect size for travelling. I like to do a quick watercolour to pass the time on airplanes.

2 | My stage dresses
A good stage dress is hard to find. It can’t be too short, it has to be secure, and it has to survive getting rolled up into a suitcase. When I stumble upon a good one—usually by a Toronto designer—I buy a spare.

3 | My library
I’ve been building a library of great thinkers—Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Marcus Aurelius, Jane Jacobs, Gandhi—all my adult life. It’s my pride and joy. Science, religion and philosophy all point to the mystery of existence, which is what art is really about.

4 | My vinyl
I used to have a huge LP collection, but as any vinyl lover knows, it’s heavy and hard to store. I’ve only kept the timeless stuff. I love Leonard Bernstein. West Side Story makes a great cooking soundtrack.

5 | My piano shell
When I toured in the States in the early 2000s, I had to bring a keyboard with me. Compared with a grand piano, a keyboard on a stand looks so sad. My dad helped me make a wooden shell to hide the wires and cables and make it pretty. My friend calls it the “shroud of legitimacy.”

6 | My favourite hoodie
I bought it in Halifax five years ago. It’s what I put on after a performance, when I’ve taken off my dress and makeup. It’s part of my coming-back-to-earth ritual.

7 | My map of Paris
After a particularly bad breakup in 2003, I went to Paris to experience its pure, unadulterated romanticism. And I went back for seven months in 2006. Paris represents an act of boldness on my part. I’ve marked all my favourite spots on my map, which also has the odd splash of wine or coffee on it.

8 | My grand piano
My parents bought me a 120-year-old Mason and Risch when I was 14 at the insistence of my piano teacher, Mrs. Ella. I’ve taken it with me to all my apartments—I even brought it with me to a cabin in the Almonte woods north of Toronto.

9 | My Tim Burton fix
Edward Scissorhands is my favourite movie. The lesson is timeless: there is so much waiting for you if you’re willing to take the road less travelled.

10 | My diary
I have all my journals dating back to 2000. I’m not particular about the kinds of notebooks I use. The only absolutely essential thing is they can’t have lined paper. I need a blank canvas so I can throw something at it, like paint, or if I need to scream I can use giant caps.