Prairie singer-songwriter sets sights on horizon

Cohen Sieg’s musical talent is as impressive as his ambitions

Though he shares a name with his hometown, Siegs Corner, Cohen Sieg’s sights are set far beyond the fields of rural Manitoba.

Sieg described himself as “a young singer-songwriter who writes music that really anyone can listen to, and it’s marketable to any person, any place or country.”

At just 18 years old, he is unafraid to state his ambitions. Inspired by the likes of Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes, Sieg emphasized his mass-appeal approach to songwriting, unbound by any specific desire to reflect his small-town upbringing.

“I know the culture of rural Manitoba has affected me,” he said.

“Definitely, you can see it a lot in my earlier years of playing. I started off actually playing country music mainly, because that’s what everyone listens to out in rural Manitoba, and that’s kind of what I grew up on.”

“As I’ve aged though, I wouldn’t say it’s played too big of a role. I don’t tend to write songs that just apply to people in rural towns,” he added.

As for his craft, Sieg’s live performances are notable for his use of a looping pedal.

He said he was inspired after watching Ed Sheeran use a similar pedal, allowing him to craft complex songs despite standing alone on a stage.

“Living out in the country, it’s pretty limited, the [number of] people I can play with,” he said.

“The looping has made it so I can still get that full big-band sound, just on my own.”

The pedal is now another tool in Sieg’s arsenal — he also plays keyboard, bass, saxophone and percussion — in service of his ultimate goal.

“I’ve always wanted to be a singer. My first guitar lesson was actually when I was six — a friend of my mom’s plays guitar so I went in for some lessons,” he said.

“I’d always dreamt of being on one of those Canadian Idol or American Idol [shows].”

Sieg described songwriting as something he’s always done in some form, though he became emboldened by learning guitar — allowing him to finally give shape to the melodies in his head.

“I would kind of make stuff up — I had little songs and stuff, little jingles and stuff I’d kind of sing to myself,” he said.

But now he says his musical ideas come more fully formed, ready to be captured by his phone’s audio recorder.

“Usually I’ll know I want to write something — like, I’ll feel that creativity kind of come over me. It’s usually late at night, I’m kind of like, ‘OK, I’m feeling something,’” he said.

It’s not difficult to imagine Sieg’s music taking him beyond the lonely stretches of eastern Manitoba.

Pop-oriented and heartfelt, Sieg’s sound seems to call for a wider audience, for more room to breathe. It seems Sieg will be ready for it too, wherever it may take him.

“The songs I write, anyone could […] relate to them on some level,” he said.

“I’ve just always wanted to play music and make music.”