After 20 years in the music business Canadian Stephen Fearing has stopped worrying about how his music is categorised and now he is celebrating the release of his first ‘best of’ record, The Man Who Married Music. His UK tour stops off at TwickFolk next Sunday and he spoke to Will Gore ahead of the gig.

Will Gore: Why release the ‘best of’ record now?

Stephen Fearing: There were lots of reasons to do it. My former manager suggested I release it a couple of years ago but it felt much too early. I don’t know about you but, to me, the title ‘best of’ suggests something final and I was wary of that. When my manager retired, and he sold the label I was on, it felt like a good time to draw a line in the sand and it gave me a reason to look back at the records I had done over the years.

WG: The Man That Married Music is a great title for the album – how did you come up with it?

SF: Like with a lot of country songs, you start with the title and then write the song. I moved recently from Ontario to Halifax and on the two-day drive I listened to all my records – I didn’t come up with a list of songs but I knew the album had to be called The Man Who Married Music. It was a cut from my Yellowjacket album. Calling it The Best of Stephen Fearing would have given me hives, like it was a David Soul record.

WG: You are a regular visitor to the UK, aren’t you?

SF: I first started working over here in the late 80s, making an album and playing some shows, but then I didn’t come here for about nine years as I did what every Canadian artist tries to do by building something in the USA. I have roots in Ireland, and missed coming to the UK, so I decided to come back and have gradually built up a group of people who want to see me play.

WG: How have you kept going in the music business for so long?

SF: I just love travelling and performing. Something has always intrigued me about getting up on stage and taking people on a little journey. There is nothing better than looking out and seeing the audience with their mouths open because they are off somewhere else and have forgotten about their Blackberrys and all the other things they have to do.

WG: Has the fact you were raised in Ireland impacted on your music?

SF: I think it has effected it – there is a melancholy and literary intelligence and wordplay that exists on your side of the Atlantic that doesn’t exist on my side and that is something I really strive for. Lyrics are a really important part of my music. It is about trying to find that fine line between clever and stupid, as Nigel Tufnel would say.

WG: Will the TwickFolk set list reflect the ‘best of’ album?

SF: My sets are always a mixture of old and new and you always want to play your latest stuff. The set will reflect some of the songs on the album but I can’t play some of the older ones any more – it is like trying on a pair of pants that don’t fit any more!

WG: Finally, what are you looking forward to most about coming back to the UK?

SF: Having a decent cup of tea. My sweetheart and I drink a lot of tea and it is almost impossible to find a good cup in Canada once you leave your home.

Stephen Fearing, TwickFolk, The Cabbage Patch, Twickenham, October 11, 8pm, £9/£8,