"Jane Siberry is an artist who is incredibly emotionally intuitive. And she's written a lot of great songs – one in particular, 'The Valley' is actually about – I believe it's about a mental institution that she lived across the street from," she said. "Just the sense of deep sadness and loss and confusion about what's happening."
McLachlan said that she never imagined she would get to be a recording artist for a living. "My parents said, 'It's a lovely hobby, honey, but you're going to go to university and you're going to get a real job.'"
But McLachlan didn't want to go to college, she said. She knew she wanted to be creative. "That's what I know I'm good at," she said. "And I'm just really, really lucky that that somehow worked out for me."
McLachlan finished high school and, at her parents' suggestion, completed one year of studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before signing to record company Nettwerk two years later. The company signed her before she had ever written a song.
Joni Mitchell: "The River"
McLachlan easily puts this Joni Mitchell track in her Top 5. "I keep going back to this sense of melancholy and loss but she – her lyrics are so beautiful and so sad, and there's so much loss and so much yearning in them," she said. "I'm certainly drawn to that."
"I've gotten the opportunity to watch so many other artists who get very successful quickly, and how difficult it is to know one's self in your early 20's and to know what it is that you want out of your life," she said.
McLachlan explained her attraction to 'sad' songs, saying, "Pain and beauty are so intrinsically connected on so many levels and I think that's one of the things that really draws me to people's music who do the same thing."
She added, "The darker and the sadder the song, the happier it makes me feel. It's just this, ah. I'm in the moment. I'm part of this beautiful world and it's fantastic and I don't really know how else to describe it."
Metallica : "Nothing Else Matters"
There's still a bit of rocker in McLachlan yet. "I like Metallica," she laughed. "'Nothing Else Matters' is a really, really great song."
She added that she's considered covering the track at some point, and "you never know, I still might," she said. Of Metallica, she said, "They're so aggressive and I have a little part of me that really likes that once in a while, just to go a little wild."
"Metallica is my go-to band for that," she said. McLachlan acknowledges her music tastes cover an interesting spectrum. "I just think I'm drawn to these songs because they make me feel, and I want to feel. I want to feel a lot," she said.
"When I look at a painting or read a book or listen to a song it's like, someone else out there gets it. They feel me," she said.
U2: "Beautiful Day"
McLachlan said she turns to U2 when she's in the mood to shake things up a bit. "'Beautiful Day' is such an incredible song. It's really, really up-tempo, really exciting and new," she said.
But of course, it draws her because of the emotions it evokes. "It's that feeling of – you can do anything. Anything can happen. The possibilities are endless. And that's a really nice feeling to plant yourself in."