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How singing on sitcom Schitt's Creek led Noah Reid to release first one, and now a second, album

Musician and star of award-winning Canadian sitcom 'Schitt's Creek', Noah Reid talks of his disdain for life in LA as a jobbing actor; getting married during a pandemic; and coming to Ireland to tour his new album

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Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek

Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek

Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek and Daniel Levy who plays David Rose

Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek and Daniel Levy who plays David Rose

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Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek

On the night of the 'Pandemmys', the cast of Schitt's Creek assembled on the grounds of a grand Toronto mansion, just as the Roses would have wanted. Taking his seat in a tuxedo and matching mask, Noah Reid, who plays Patrick in the hit sitcom, had no idea what was about to unfold. The show scooped all seven comedy categories at the main ceremony - including acting prizes for his castmates Daniel Levy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and Annie Murphy - making it the most awarded comedy in a single year.

"It was just crazy, one after the other like that. Nobody saw it coming," he marvels, on a Zoom call from his home in Canada. "In a strange way, if we were actually at the Emmys, we would have had to be a lot more chill than we were on the day, drinking Champagne and losing our shit. It was pretty special - and the hangover was real the next day."

The awards show capped off a phenomenal run for the Canadian series, which concluded its sixth and final season this year. It's also been an unusually busy time for Reid, as the 33-year-old got married and released his second album, Gemini, over the summer.

In conversation, Reid is upbeat and easy-going, speaking in full, eloquent paragraphs, and even seeking out a phonetic pronunciation of my name ahead of our chat. However, he describes himself as "a morose and melancholy person a lot of the time", which comes through in his music, a soft-rock affair that draws on his favourite singer-songwriters from the 1970s, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

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Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek and Daniel Levy who plays David Rose

Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek and Daniel Levy who plays David Rose

Noah Reid who plays Patrick in Schitt's Creek and Daniel Levy who plays David Rose

His first album, Songs From A Broken Chair, came out in 2016, but in the years since, he'd been too preoccupied with acting to tour or work on new songs. It was a moment on Schitt's Creek that led him to seriously consider a career in music.

Fans will remember Reid's breakout moment in season four, when Patrick performs an acoustic rendition of The Best during an open-mic night. His cover took on a life of its own, rocketing up the charts and becoming a popular wedding song around the world.

"Dan [Levy] had written that song into the episode, and I think the line was, 'Patrick performs a surprisingly beautiful version of Tina Turner's The Best', which was a lot to process. At the table read, I went up to Dan and said, 'OK, so you're going to make me sing, huh?' and he was like, 'Yeah, and this song is actually quite important to me, so don't f**k it up,'" Reid recalls with a laugh. Thankfully, he didn't.

The audience response, he says, has been life-changing: "People found my music and it opened up a door to a music career that I didn't really know would be possible."

The son of an American mother and a Canadian father, Reid was born in Toronto, where he trained at the National Theatre School of Canada. In his 20s, he moved to Los Angeles and struggled to navigate 'pilot season'; the year before he landed Schitt's Creek, his sitcom Kevin From Work was cancelled after 10 episodes. He writes about his disdain for LA in the aptly-titled song Hate This Town.

"I found it hard to be myself. There's this very American pursuit of the dream that just seemed - I don't want to say sick, but it takes over the vibe of that city in a really interesting way, and I found it difficult to contend with," he explains.

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When Reid arrived on Schitt's Creek, the show had yet to become a global phenomenon, but it was already big in Canada.

"I was certainly nervous about showing up to an established show. Catherine [O'Hara] and Eugene [Levy] are these giants in Canadian comedy - and all over the world - but for us, we're well aware that they're at the absolute height. I was just really blown away by their generosity and welcoming nature. They made it real easy for me to step into that show and feel like I was a part of it.

"There was a wonderful interpersonal vibe on that set that you don't come across all the time, and I think that's down to Eugene and Catherine approaching it like the genuine people they are. Nobody could flex any ego if they weren't flexing any ego, so there just wasn't any, really, on set."

Of O'Hara, he says: "She has an uncanny ability to keep her creative senses alive at all times. You never know what she's going to do, and she listens to her instincts on a level that I could only dream of."

Though Reid is a dual citizen of the US and Canada, he identifies more strongly as a Canadian. "We're a little less aggressive in our comedic tendencies. In comedy and music, there are just so many incredible Canadian contributions that it's hard to find the common denominator, except that I think we're used to making fun of ourselves and each other, in a kind and polite way - we always apologise afterwards."

He believes that's why audiences have gravitated towards Schitt's Creek. "It really walks the line between ridiculous comedy and heartfelt family content in a way that balances it out so it's not sappy or saccharine. It feels emotionally complex.

"There's always something taking you by surprise - undercutting a sentimental moment with a funny moment, or undercutting a funny moment with a sentimental moment. It's really nice to be a part of something that stands for what it stands for," he says. "It's funny looking back now, like, wow, every episode was a moment that I treasure."

The show has also been celebrated for its tender portrayal of the relationship between Patrick and David. Regarding the debate around straight actors playing queer roles, Reid says: "I agree with it on many scores. I also feel like Patrick is just a guy who's attracted to another guy. I never felt the need to play Patrick a certain way based on his sexuality - I sort of approached him as if he were me and he was attracted to somebody."

Reid recently married his long-term partner Clare Stone before a party of 25 at his parents' home on Lake Huron in Ontario. The couple discussed whether to proceed during the pandemic, but as the venue was outdoors, they decided to go ahead with the ceremony, complete with a romantic serenade by the groom of The Book of Love.

"Honestly, it was incredibly stressful leading up to it, but it was a full all-hands-on-deck affair, and I think the result of that was this magical, very emotional celebration in the midst of a time [when] not much celebration was possible."

This spring, Reid embarked on his first tour, and he was just eight shows in when Canada shut down. He's hoping to resume next year, including a stop in Ireland, following his last visit a decade ago.

"Like a lot of Canadians, I boast about Irish heritage, and I was keen to experience what boots-on-the-ground felt like. As a music man, the musical tradition in Ireland is incredible; I could listen to it for hours," he says. "I can't wait to get back and actually play some music and experience a bit more of it now that I'm a little bit older and wiser."

In the meantime, Reid has put together a "pandemic record" he hopes to bring to the studio shortly. Yet despite his focus on music, he's eager to get back to acting - he points out that the title Gemini nods to both his astrological sign and his dual careers.

"From a creative standpoint, it's very rewarding to get to communicate my own thoughts and emotions and realities," he says of his music. "But I do think there is something very nice about stepping out of the acting world into the music world, and stepping out of the music world into the acting world.

"Having now not acted in a little while, I'm ready to be somebody else!" he laughs. "I've spent too much time in my own head - I'm excited to play somebody else now." l

Noah Reid's latest single, 'Honesty', from his second album, 'Gemini', is available on Spotify and to download now


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