Toonmade: A Love Story that starts and continues with Music
Lisa Moore met Stephen Toon over some Italian Arias at her parent’s piano in the winter of early 1996.
A freshman in college, Stephen was friends with Lisa’s older brother, and the two had caught a ride with a buddy the night before, driving all night through the Rocky Mountains. The Moore family lived in Oliver, so Stephen decided to spend the day and night there before heading the extra 4 hours to his hometown Chilliwack.
Tired from the red-eye drive, brother Eryn went to sleep and Lisa was the only one left in the house to hang out with. Turns out, Lisa and Stephen bonded quickly over classical voice, sharing the latest songs they were working on.
Now, at the time, Lisa was much too young for Stephen, as far as romance is concerned. But, a few years later, with Lisa out of high school and Stephen in the middle of an internship in Vancouver, they met again at her brother’s wedding. It was pretty obvious that all they wanted to do was meet at the piano for some more singing, and they have been making music together ever since.
17 years married, the Toons have 4 boys aged 10 years and under. No more babies in diapers means more time for music and recording sessions! So in the last 4 months the Toons have made more music together than they have in a long time.
Lisa writes and sings beautiful song-poems about life, love and God, using fresh imagery and causing the listener to feel rather vulnerable as she cuts into the deep places, somehow “cathartic” doesn’t describe it. She doesn’t just facilitate growth and healing as she sings, her voice and her songs actually do the healing…or be the healing? That might be a good way to put it.
Stephen writes folk/rock/countryish songs about love, life, death and everything in between, his belted tenor a perfect compliment to Lisa’s more lyrical and smooth soprano. He started writing and singing in church as a young teenager, studied music and theology for his undergrad and served as a pastor and worship leader for almost 20 years.
With a drive to help others worship more intimately, the Toons continue to write and record songs for connecting with the Maker. Stephen has 3 albums of worship out and Lisa is starting to record and release her songs on Toonmade.
Much focus these days is given by both Toons to the songs that are telling their story. Stephen plays as Fort George when he feels like being all rock/introspective and melancholy, and they join forces as badgentina to sing the more folk/country stuff.
To help us fans, they’ve promised to have the website reflect order and ease, hosting sections for Lisa’s life songs, Fort George mellow-shoegaze-slacker rock, badgentina and then a section devoted to the Spiritual songs for worship.
Lisa has always stood out among her peers as unique. Never one to follow the norm or status quo, she would be comfortable singing and playing with anyone, but probably most comfortable with the likes of My Brightest Diamond, Jane Siberry, Joan Baez or any classically-trained-jazz-loving-folk-rocker. She has taught voice and piano for years and loves that making music for a living.
Stephen grew up dreaming he was either an Indigo Girl or a member of Steely Dan and wished that The Grapes of Wrath would call him up to join them. None of those happened, so he agreed to play in a newly formed high school band called Tuna Surprise, then took those songs in and out of other bands or played them solo, adding to the songbook almost daily for many years. Aside from some summer jobs in college, and a paper route and McD's gig early on, Stephen has been a professional musician for all of his working life as a worship pastor, a sideman/session player and singer, a music maker for TV and film, a voice and guitar teacher and a singer/songwriter.
Toonmade met and bonded over old art music, and they sang together in Italian, German and old English (yes, there is a recording of at least one of these songs…but we might need to start a petition or a fundraiser to get them to release it!). Now they sing almost 100% in English, but they’re open to other languages, of course. Stephen prefers German, Lisa, Spanish.
These days they call Oliver, BC home, but have recently moved there from Prince George, BC. Their first 12 years together were spent mostly in Vancouver and some in Surrey, with Lisa studying Jazz and Music Therapy, and Stephen working at some Vancouver and area churches, as well as teaching music at a small college in Surrey. In 2007 they had their first child, Rocky, and then Ezra a year later, with Samuel and Jasper joining over the next few years. One day they hope to have the boys music featured on here too, but we'll have to wait and see what the boys think about that.
The Latest Chapter of The Toonmade Story
As of late, both Toons agreed that something inside them was nudging and gnawing, telling them to make writing/recording and performing a full-time thing, not just an "alongside" career. They both love teaching and church work, but their truest calling is to write and perform and be somewhat mobile with their music. In the summer of 2017, the For Sale sign went up, the house got packed and 6 Toons and their dog moved South to Oliver in order to be nearer to family. Now, when a tour or an overnight gig comes up, the boys get to stay-over with Nana and Papa so Mom and Dad can go work the family business!
From the Toons: Adding to the Soundtrack of YOUR Life
What is that business? Well, it’s Toonmade’s business to make music for you, music that you can have as the soundtrack to life. New music and fresh content every week so you can have MORE fresh sound in your story.
WE WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE FOR YOU TO JOIN US ON THE JOURNEY! Why? Because WE DO THIS FOR YOU!
So many times over the years, people have said to us, "Why aren't you recording more? Gigging more? On the road with your music??" Well, we are now! House Concerts and mini tours are being booked right now for 2018. Songs are being worked on every day. We can't wait to see where this soundtrack to YOUR LIFE and ours goes next. Oh, and did we mention that these weekly releases are completely FREE for you to enjoy!? Yup.
“But wait,” you ask. “I thought you said this was your living?”
It is! And I'm glad you asked 😉. You can find out more about supporting us in any number of great ways HERE; Best thing to do now is to sign up for our Mailing List, then you'll have the best advantage in finding our newest music AND getting 10% off everything in our Store!
And hey, always feel free to drop us a line and say Hi!
More Artist Descriptions
There is no way to put any artist into a tidy little box or definition, but if we absolutely had to try:
Spiritual Songs by Stephen Toon/Lisa Toon - Spiritual music, songs for worship in the church or as you pray and meditate; music that shares the shelf with Matt Redman, Hillsong, Andy Park, Vineyard Music, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Tim Hughes, Marie Barnett
Fort George - rock and roll that’s mellow, sensitive, heartfelt, experimental at times, melodic and moody, introspective and tongue in cheek lyrics. Music that sounds like if Mystery Machine had a baby with Grapes of Wrath, or Radiohead had a baby with The Tragically Hip, 54:40 had a cousin who looked like My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies built a Lego town and it resembled Ryan Adams. Oh, and you can totally tell that Stephen…I mean, Fort George, loves Wilco, the Indigo Girls, Hayden and Jonathan Inc. I know. Crazy. Makes you wanna hear it, right?
Lisa Toon - This lady makes up beautiful songs that have heart, soul, brains and just a hint of whimsy when needed. If you had to pick a shelf for Lisa, you’d put her in with Sarah McLachlan, The Be Good Tanyas, Indigo Girls (More Emily than Amy, but she loves Amy too!), My Brightest Diamond and Sufjan Stevens. Did I mention artists really don’t like being labelled or described using other artists as examples? But they agreed to this since most people at least want an idea of what/who they sound like.