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 (Toobeez 5524590 Funskool Cooking Set).
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 Ladies Sexy Roman Beauty Greek Greecian Goddess Toga Party Historical Fancy Dress Costume OutfitChris 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.Smiffy's 41541S Officially Licenced Roald Dahl Deluxe Enormous Crocodile Costume, Green, S UK Age 46 yrs
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.Pretty Pale Coral Floral Diamante Personalised Engagement Party Invitations 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, Traditional Bavarian Blouse, Trachten blouse, colour bluee checkered, Size 40ended up circling the globe and became this kind of go-to video to show people the potential of VR.
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.Girls School Uniform Student Suit Grey Jacket with White Shirt Short Dress Skirt with Stockings Anime Cosplay Costume Anime Cosplay 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.B Blesiya WiFi Smart RC Metal Robot Tank Car Chassis Track Crawler Caterpillar Platform WiFi Control for Raspbery pi Black
AM: How did you go about capturing the mood of the visuals in Gymnasia?
PW: I started with the sound.Yuenhoang 4Set Gasket 12MM 15MM Paddle Propeller Clip Washer for Carbon Paddle Propellers RC Model Drone Quadcopter Accessaries 15MM 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.
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. Simple Life Minimalist Flowers,Watercolor Flying Crane for Bathroom Bedroom PicturesThe 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.Iracebeth The Red Queen Disney Film Collection Doll Alice Through the Looking Glass 12 1 2'
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. Sanei Super Mario Bros 12Inch Wiggler Hanachan PlushAnd then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, InCharacter Baby Girl's Pretty Pony Costumewithout 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.
AM: You wrote a beautiful choir song for Gymnasia. Paper Magic Geisha Womens Med French KissCan 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.NARTUO Naruto Shippuden DXF figure shinobirelations 2 weasel separately 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.
The basketballs were a bit more complex. We knew we needed music inside that, but once again I didn’t want to ruin it, Great Eastern Entertainment Strike Witches Vintage 501st Shirley & Francesca Messenger Bagso 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.TRAXXAS TRX4 Metal Hexagon Adapter 12MM Thick Wheels Hubs Mount with Stainless Steel Screw Needle Black Red 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.
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. Bristol Novelty BW172 Barrister Wig, Grey, One SizeIt’s like a two-headed dragon with two totally different personalities.
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.Vocaloid Kaito Cosplay Costume Wig
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.Red girl Medium Christmas Ornaments Christmas Pillows Christmas Tree Pendant Socks(White 48in) The director always has to be the director.
I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – Generic HSP 94177 1 10 2.4G 4WD 18cxp Engine Rc Car Nitro Powered Sport Rally Racing OffRoad Truck. I begged them at that time to do their music, and then years later they finally connected with me.
AM: Do you have any other projects coming up with them?
PW: We have two more projects going on now as we speak.Suncloris,3D Watercolor Dinosaurs 2pc Twin Size Home Bedding Sheet Set .Included 1Duvet Cover,1Pillowcase(no Comforter Inside) One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.Party Central The Black and White Kit Assortment For 10 People for New Year's Eve
AM: When do you like to write your music and do you have an ideal place to write it?
PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, 50 Piece Wooden Modern Town Train Set with Accessories, Comes in A Clear Container, Compatible with All Major BrandsI 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.Laliva TMotor F40 1600 2400 2600KV Brushless Motor for DIY FPV RC Quadcopter (color KV2600 Green 1pcs) 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. Kagura charm with cleaner strap Hibari (japan import)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?Women's Funky Fabric Witch Costume Womens Small
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.Jingtaohailang One Piece Sabo Lufei Second Bredher Model Doll Doll Anime Decoration 25cm 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?Jack Rabbit Creations Magnetic Vintage Lake Boat
PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. Multi 13 50 W x 60 L Emvency Throw Blanket Warm Cozy Print Flannel Pink Cartoon Pig Face Pattern Animal Cute Head Beautiful Factory Funny Happy Comfortable Soft for Bed Sofa and Couch 60x80 InchesThe 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.MonkeyJack 6 Pieces Opaque Constellation Sign 12sided Dices D12 Astrology Accessory Toys, Chrome golden 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.
When I watched James Brown when we toured with him, he had a very large level of humility when it came to music, KTYX Latex DIY Masquerade Props Bald Beauty Mask Plays Face Mask maskand 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. Bundle of 4 Smartgurlz Robot Zara Maria Jen and Jun Rechargeable Battery Suitable for Girls Play and Learning. Free CurriculumHe 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?Inside Out Play Set V Di 3.0 Pixar Inside Out Playset
PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Team Sports Gymnastics Flexible Rollable Foam Training Beam 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, McFarlane Toys Action Figure Halo Reach Series 4 ELITE GENERAL (gold)you 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, 150x100x1.5mm AAA+ Balsa Wood Sheet ply Model Balsa Wood Can be Used for Military Models etc Smooth DIY Free Shipping 20pcsand I thought that was cool.
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People mistake these things as hobbies because they like to play the piano or they like to play an instrument.Black Creations Slender Man 1 Movie Poster Canvas Picture Art Print Premium Quality A0 A1 A2 A3 A4 (A0 Canvas (30 40)) 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.John Salako Signed A4 Photo Framed Crystal Palace Memorabilia Autograph Display 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.OMAX 1.4MP High Sensitivity CCD Digital Camera for Microscope with 0.5X Reduction Lens 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?MagiDeal Engineering Construction Truck Crane Vehicle Alloy Car Model 1 50 Kids Toy
PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyLaliva DLE120 Crankshaft Connecting Rod 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. Lais Jigsaw Water waves 2000 piecesIn 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?Aeromax My 1st Career Gear Firefighter, Easy to put on shirt fits most ages 3 to 6
PW: It comes out in October. To be honest, this album is very particular because it was a very particular three years.Romerofs Quadcopter 2.4G Foldable FPV Selfie Drone RC Quadcopter with 720P Wide Angle Camera Altitude Hold Headless Mode
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.Designer Fashion Lounge Pool Raft with Backrest and Armrests 62 x 35 by Open Water Swim
Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, Forever Friends 16 Red Padded Heart & Ribbon Bearit’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. Minnesota Vikings Brett Favre McFarlane PlaymakerSo 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? Ladies costume bunny with Dungarees Easter BunnyAre 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. Privacy Window Film White Window Film, no Glue Static Preservation Window Sticker Opaque Window,Vinyl Decorative Film,for Smooth Glass, Bathroom Windows, Kitchen,60(23.62in)200(78.74in) cmSo 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.YuGiOh Naturia Bamboo Shoot (DREVEN029) Duelist Revolution 1st Edition Ultimate Rare 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 Gotd color Magnetic Drawing Board for Kids Toddlers Babies with 1 Pen or the TootScoot II Balance Bike for Kids, Red.