Montreal musician Patrick Watson (photo by Patrick Gouin)

By Anita Malhotra

Releasing his first album in 2003, Watson won the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 for his second album, Close to Paradise, and went on to release Wooden Arms (2009), Adventures in Your Own Backyard (2012) and Love Songs for Robots (KKCD Camp Chair Beach Chair Fishing Grazing Camping Ultralight Folding Chair Outdoor Furniture 7075 Al Oxford Fabric Max 150kg Modern Moon Chair (color C)).

Several of his songs have been featured in movies as well as in TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, and Orange is the New Black.

Watson is also a soundtrack composer and recently created the sound and music for Gymnasia, a haunting virtual reality piece co-produced by the National Film Board and Felix & Paul Studios, and directed by animators Trademark Fine Art Ata Alishahi Flowers Design 3 Wall Decor, 14 x 19Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (aka Clyde Henry Productions).

Anita Malhotra spoke with Patrick Watson by phone on June 11, 2019 about his work on Gymnasia, his approach to music and his current projects.Gund Snuffles 10 Plush Large, White by GUND

AM: How did you get involved with doing the music and sound for Gymnasia?

PW: Chris and Maciek work for Clyde Henry Productions and I usually do all the music for their films. We got involved in VR because Felix & Paul Studios had asked Chris and Maciek to test out a camera of theirs – to do a little short.

We did this very humble video of me playing in my studio. In the initial test they noticed that a certain type of simplicity was really crucial. The whole thing is meant to feel like you’re sitting there, and at one point I look at you.Transformers Power Core Combiners Series Robot Action Figure BOMBSHOCK Commander with 4 Combaticons (Missile Carrier Drone, Tank Drone, APC Drone and Armored Car Drone) If it’s done well, the effect of being alone with someone in VR is a strange experience, even before you start adding any kind of fancy stuff.

A lot of the other VR projects were more geared towards being kind of fancy, like you’re in a weird world on a roller coaster. Because this one was so simple, it seemed to have had a large effect on people. So that demo we made, Strangers, Black 30x14x42cm QRFDIAN Backpack female college student bag simple junior high school student large capacity backpack travel bag waterproof bag Fabric (color Pink, Size 30x14x42cm)ended up circling the globe and became this kind of go-to video to show people the potential of VR.

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Chris Lavis (L) and Maciek Szczerbowski (R) (photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada)

Because of that, Felix & Paul asked us to do another one together. So Chris and Maciek decided to make something that was a bit of a childhood dream. It’s still not trying to sell the viewer with too much info.Adult Dirty Cop Officer Anita Bribe Plus Sexy Costume The space is really well made and you really feel like you’re sitting there. There are not too many bells and whistles.

We made a plot line that was very surreal and not trying to be a giant narration. I feel like it’s a very good approach for VR, because I feel like VR is closer to photo than film.Squinkies Surprise Inside GHOST PRINCESS Bracelet & Ring Set by Squinkies

AM: How did you go about capturing the mood of the visuals in Gymnasia?

PW: I started with the sound.Toy Figurine Toy Model Movie Character Crafts Decorations Birthday Gift 21cm SYFO I think it’s crucially VR sound first, and music only if you need it. Because unless the music is integrated in the space, it tells your brain you’re not there.

Image from the virtual reality piece Gymnasia (photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada)

VR doesn’t work the same as film, because when you watch a film you’ve already decided that you’re going to lose yourself in the environment. But with VR you’re supposed to be there.

So VR music is very tricky actually. Generic 6.6Ft New Beautiful Hydrangeas Garlands Cloth Wedding Flowers Arch DecorsThe sound really decides the tone more than the music. My approach with music is, “This is the place that, if I put music there, it’s not going to ruin it.” It’s not how do I make it better; it’s how do I not ruin it.Disney Pixar Cars Diecast Doc Hudson

So I initially approached from the sound point of view. And the sound point of view is to give it that kind of abandoned feeling without being too scary. Hasbro Transformers Beast Wars Deluxe Transmetals 2 Evil Predacon Scourge Locust MOCAnd then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, Dr. Evil Super Poseable Captain Action 1 6 Scale Deluxe Action Figurewithout trying to colour it too much. That’s actually very tricky.

Ambience is very complicated in VR because when you’re in a room your ears tell you how big the room is – not your eyes. Proximity effect in VR is super sensitive.

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Image from the virtual reality piece Gymnasia (photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada)

AM: You wrote a beautiful choir song for Gymnasia. 7417 Orimupasu embroidery kit frame winter of KenrokuenCan you tell me a bit about that?

PW: The song is integrated into the space. We wanted a haunting lullaby for children. That kind of stuff is easy to write because I’ve got kids.YuGiOh Royal Knight of the Ice Barrier (STBLEN091) Starstrike Blast 1st Edition Super Rare by YuGiOh It’s an easy universe to get into. That’s why a little more of my energy was put to the spatialization, because the music was very obvious.

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Image from the virtual reality piece Gymnasia (photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada)

The basketballs were a bit more complex. We knew we needed music inside that, but once again I didn’t want to ruin it, Win Green LARGE PIRATE SHACK FLOOR QUILTso we started off with sound.

We actually put a mike in the gym and gave 20 people basketballs and played out the actual scene with the spatialization.PearlRolan Cool Blanket,Geometric,colorful Funky Vortex Stripes Simplistic Spring Kids Tones Design,Dark Brown Lime Green Pink,for Bed & Couch Sofa Easy Care 50 x60 It would sound so fake if you tried to redo it yourself any other way.

And then, from there, I just accentuated music. The music is actually integrated inside the project not as music, but more as sound design. When I threw the strings in the back to give it a little bit of a dramatic tone, it wasn’t too jarring. And all the weird synth modular stuff that I put in there is pretty wild and integrates very nicely.

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AM: What is it like to work with Chris and Maciek?

PW: There’s nothing more fun than working with Chris and Maciek. They’re like a dream. Both of them are really talented in very different ways. Puzzle House Paint Max Acrylic Oil Painting Paint By Numbers Kits Sets with Frame For Kids Adults Beginner colorful Deer Portrait DIY Wall Art Picture Photography Brush Supplies 610It’s like a two-headed dragon with two totally different personalities.

Still from the animated film Madame Tutli-Putli, directed by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada)

We talk a lot about the projects way before we start making them and we have a pretty respectful relationship in terms trusting each other’s instincts.SHENTIANWEI European and American Adult Lady Halloween Sexy Queen Costume Uniform Cosplay Dance Party Queen Costume Set

If something passes our three different kinds of filters, generally it’s got to be something very good. At the same time I know it’s their film.Stuffed Shima attached even high school fleet Gomuhi The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – Feldherr MAXI Bag for Star Wars Armada Wave 1 6 Rebels. I begged them at that time to do their music, and then years later they finally connected with me.

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AM: Do you have any other projects coming up with them?

PW: We have two more projects going on now as we speak.Mini Drone WiFi Folding Spherical Intelligent Aerial Aircraft Remote Control Aircraft Toy Best Gift for Boys Girls One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.Furyu COMPLETE SET 4 Plushies Plush MINI BABY NIFFLER Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald 12cm ORIGINAL Warner Bros Magic

AM: When do you like to write your music and do you have an ideal place to write it?

Patrick Watson and his band accepting the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 (photo by Dustin Rabin Photography)

Patrick Watson and his band accepting the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 (photo by Dustin Rabin Photography)Black And Aqua Karaoke Personalised Birthday Party Invitations Invites & Envelopes

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, The Piggy Story Fuzzytown ArtFolioWhale Die Cut, bluee by Piggy StoryI write too, and sometimes it’s really fun being in different spots – having that luxury – because I have kids and stuff.

The only thing I worry about is to write and write well. It’s just like a muscle. It’s not a God-given gift that you’re creative.Pen holder Natural Wood Free Combination Incorporated Pen Holder. Container manager Some people naturally have more of a creative inclination than others, but the only reason they’re so gifted is that they worked like a monster on it and are constantly flexing that muscle.

Every day I’m flexing that muscle. There’s always something to write, there’s always something to learn, and there’s always work to be done. EBRRO TOYOTA TS010 1992 8 (Diecast Model)There’s no real excuse not to. I mean, there are millions of people who would love to have my job. If you’re in music or the arts, you can never take that for granted – you can never get lazy.

AM: What are your first memories of being involved in music?Hydrographic Film Hydrographic Film Water Transfer Print Hydrographics Film, 1.0 Meter Width Hydro DipHydro Dipping Film Dry branch pattern Multicolor Optional PVA Dipping Decor Film

PW: I grew up singing in a choir at a pretty young age. I grew up in a really small town. There were no cool bands.Double Twelve Numerical Dominoes Game by CHH From a very young age I sang at funerals and weddings, and big moments in people’s lives.

I am proud to make music for these kinds of moments in people’s lives and I probably still do that, but in a habitual form.

AM: What was your connection with the audience like when you were younger?WILSON A9274 Little League Softball (12Pack), 11Inch, Optic Yellow

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. QWKZH Kindergarten school bag backpack travel student bagThe music is the performer and you are part of the instruments. It’s a very different perspective than someone going on stage and singing a song about themselves.

I still keep that kind of intention when I get on stage.The Super Sight Read Minds with One of the Best Kept Secrets in Magic by Magic Makers I generally like the idea of letting music do what it does best. I find music more interesting than me, to be honest. Of course I’m part of the process, but a very humbling part.

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James Brown performing in June 2005 (photo by Fabio Venni, Flickr Creative Commons)

When I watched James Brown when we toured with him, he had a very large level of humility when it came to music, Johnny Lightning Volkswagen II Release 5 1964 Type 2 Transporter White 32 by Rc2and he would do giant prayers before getting on stage.

He seemed like the most pompous person in the world from his interviews, but when he got on stage he was actually very humble. Despicable Me Party Hats, 8ctHe knew how to listen to the room and the music and not to himself. He was basically a slave to the room and the sound and the vibe.

AM: What were your early experiences with the piano?14x19 Trademark Fine Art WAG00896C1419GG Studies in Ink Cattleya Art by Nan Rae, 14x19, 14x19, Multicolor

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Tobot Mini Y Transformer Robot Vehicle Figure Korean Animation Transformers Character I would go home and play the piano all night long until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning at a very young age. I would just improvise. I loved that process.

AM: Can you describe your relationship with the piano?

PW: It was kind of interesting how I looked at the piano. I guess as a kid I thought the piano was a ghost. He would just do all the work for me and I would just hang out with him. I didn’t grow up in a city – I grew up in a pretty small town, Red Flare Personalised Wedding Stationery Thank You Cardsyou know. You get pretty romantic ideas in a very small town, so I didn’t know much better. I guess the piano was just like the ghost and then he wrote music for me, The Stupell Home Decor Collection Farm to Table Grey and White Planked Look Framed Giclee Texturized Art, 12 x 1.5 x 12, Multicolorand I thought that was cool.

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Cover of Patrick Watson’s 2012 album, Adventures in Your Own Backyard (photo courtesy of Patrick Watson)

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People mistake these things as hobbies because they like to play the piano or they like to play an instrument.KidKraft Sing Along Mic and Amp I don’t think anybody plays four or five hours in the middle of the night unless they need it to try and get through whatever they’ve got to do.

When schools teach creativity, they teach it as people drawing flowers.XYQXZB Live Wigs Europe And The United States Ladies Fashion Short Bobo Head All Real Hair Wig Cap But creativity for me is more of a survival tool. For me, creativity is taught wrong from the get-go and not helpful for people.

Creativity is absolutely the most primal and most important survival tool you could have. I feel the people I’ve met who are really creative it’s generally a survival instinct.No. 60 5000m roll COL.94 FUJIX King Rejiron F fuzzy sewing thread (japan import) It’s because they couldn’t cope and they just had to build worlds to cope.

AM: You have a concert coming up in Lyon with the Orchestre National de Lyon. What music will you be doing at that concert?Sylvanian Families 2738 DREISTOECKIGES HAUS SET

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records really2.4GHz 1 12 Scale High Speed Model Car 20KM H Monster Truck Offroad RC Car Vehicle (Yellow) translate well to orchestra. They’re closer to classical music in the mood.

AM: How is playing with an orchestra different from playing just with your band?

PW: Playing with an orchestra is the best. Nothing beats it. It’s totally overwhelming. It’s also very technical difficult, but it’s amazing. DENGDAI Cycling Bicycle Helmets Helmet Equestrian Safety Helmet horse riding professional helmet men and women riding equipmentIn classical music the downbeats are different because the conductor goes down and everybody reacts, so there’s flab to the “one.” In pop music the “one” is very, very definite.

AM: When is your next album coming out and what is it like?RG Costumes 70137 Little Tiger Bunting Costume Size Newborn by RG Costumes

Cover of Patrick Watson's 2015 album Love Songs for Robots (photo courtesy of Patrick Watson)

Cover of Patrick Watson’s 2015 album Love Songs for Robots (photo courtesy of Patrick Watson)

PW: It comes out in October. To be honest, this album is very particular because it was a very particular three years.SDCC 2014 Funko Pop DC Heroes 57 Exclusive White Lantern Superman by Khamchaii

At one point I thought there was going to be a lot of production, but when I started the record, I started to make something as bare as possible and very intimate. Just kind of really sincere. I also wanted songs so strong and well-written that the production wouldn’t save them. I could do them upside-down and they would still work.Stupell Industries So Good To Be Home pinks Oversized Wall Plaque Art, Proudly Made in USA

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, PLAYMOBIL 5018 School Starter Setit’s not oversung. The lyrics have a much bigger place than normal than the other records.

It was just such a particular three years. My life fell apart so I had to rebuild everything over three years. Seven limited nanaco card bakemonogatari + amount in lastSo the album’s obviously a lot about that, whether I like it or not. It’s hard for it not to be when you’re going through that process.

AM: Aside from the Lyon concert, what are you doing now? SET BLACK PLASTIC PARTS FOR K8200 3D PRINTER SPARE PARTAre you working on your next album?

PW: I had started to work on it, but then I got a contract. I’m doing the music for the play Elephant Man in Paris. I will be writing the music during the summer.

AM: Aside from music and your family, do you have any other major interests?

PW: Reading is becoming a huge part of my life. I’ve been a terrible reader since I was a kid. It would take me a year to read a book. Star Trek Five Year Mission Board Game by Mayfair GamesSo I just never had that much access to literature because of that. And now I’m spending all my time catching up on everything I should have read 20 years ago.

Right now I’m reading The Lover by Marguerite Duras and Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys. I try to read a book a week.Chocolate Cupcake Vintage Tea Personalised Party Invitations Invites & Envelopes The last book I read was amazing – Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger and it was so good!

Patrick Watson will perform with the Orchestre National de Lyon at the Théâtre Antique de Lyon on July 8, 2019. For more information about Patrick Watson, visit patrickwatson.net.

Gymnasia can be viewed at the Phi Centre in Montreal until Sept. 15, 2019 as part of the immersive art exhibit HUM(AI)N. It can also be downloaded as an app from the Oculus Store. For more information on Gymnasia, visit 1918 Crossley (green white) Waring's logo Matchbox Model of Yesteryear Y13c Issued 1974 by Matchbox or the blueeandblack flydancing 2.4Ghz Remote Control Car RC High Speed Truck Vehicle Off Road Racing for Kids 3+ age.

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