Montreal musician Patrick Watson (photo by Patrick Gouin)

By Anita Malhotra

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Patrick Watson’s second album, Close To Paradise, won the 2007 Polaris Music Prize (photo courtesy of Patrick Watson)

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 (Lais Jigsaw Ruin Nikolaikirche Zerbst 2000 pieces).

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 Anyangeight Soft Blanket Twin Size Pirates,Doodle Drawing Style Pattern with Rum Barrels Swords Guns Skulls Treasure Maps,Black White 60 x50 ,Soft Blankets for KidsChris 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.Kongsuni Kong Kong Baby Doll Potty Play Toy

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.Eflite UMX Cirrus SR22T BNF Basic with AS3X and Safe Select 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, Fleece Blanket Art Illustration of Square Pixel Mosaic Pattern bluee and orange Blankets for Living Room Bedroom Wearing by Teatherended 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.Nickel Victor Yarn Kasumi Yarn NamiFutoshi Col.1906 BlackBased 40g About 124m NSKSM 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.Leg Avenue Women's PlusSize Tea Party Bunny

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

PW: I started with the sound.RC Car Toys, Off Road Cars Vehicle 4WD 2.4Ghz 1 16 Crawlers Off Road Vehicle Toy Remote Control Car, Best Gift for Kids and Adults 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. Pixar Cars 3 The King No.43 1 55 Diecast Metal Alloy Toy Car Model Loose Kids Boy Xmas GiftThe 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.Lego Star Wars Gamecube

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. 40mm front tyre Laliva 26S Electric Brake Wheel Controller 40mm Front Tyre 40 50 55 60 65mm Tyre Skin Wheel Skin Cover for Fixed Wing RC Plane Model (color Set B)And then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, Noch 58660 Quarrystone Viaduct 37.4 H0 Scalewithout 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. Ego 71364 Wade Nets with Medium PVC Coated RubberCan 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.Laliva FPV 7 inch LCD 1024 x 600 Monitor NO bluee 48CH 600mW TS832 Transmitter RC832H RC832 Receiver Fatshark Antenna 1200TVL Camera (color Without Camera) 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, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies Salt Water Fuel Cell Science Kitso 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.Znzbzt Background Wall Decoration Wall Sticker Bedroom Wallpaper Posters self Adhesive Wall Decals, Magic Piano 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. 1955 Chrysler C300, Black Motormax Premium American 73302 1 24 Scale Diecast Model CarIt’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.HTDBKDBK High Waist Yoga Pants, Womens Sports Slim Cropped Pants Tight Leggings Yoga Pants

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.RUBYCA 2 Strings Mix Lot Assorted Jade Imitation Round Painted Coated Glass Beads Jewelry Making 12mm The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – RenteriaDecor Baby Blanket Panda,Baby Panda Bear Illustration Sketch Style Artwork Asian Nature Wild Animals Theme,Black White Throw Rug Sofa Bedding W57 x L74 inch. 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.Black Lava 4mm Malahill Gemstone Beads for Jewelry Making, Sold per Bag 5 Strands Inside (African Blood Jasper, 10mm) One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.Cat Dump Truck WLIGHT Sound WFIGURE

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)LEGO Key Chain Silver Brick 851406

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, Cars Lamb Duvet Boyhood Dreams of Joyful Rides a Journey Above The Clouds with colorful Cartoon Cars Throw Blanket Picnic Blanket Multicolor W59 x L31I 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.Merry Christmas Greeting Card Santa Casual Daypack Travel Bag College School Backpack for Mens and Women 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. Aurora World 37 Holiday Magical Unicorn XLG, White, SilverThere’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?Oliver and Company Burger King 1996 by Burger King

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.VersaTiles Math Workbook and Answer Case (Grade 2) 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?289mm RC Car Metal Decorative Antenna with Flag for 1 10 RC Crawler Axial SCX10 90046 Traxxas TRX4 D90 bluee

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. Wood 24 inch Hampton Nautical Deluxe Class White Wood and Chrome Decorative Ship Steering Wheel 48 ationThe 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.Alloy Model Pull Back Engineering Vehicle Sprinkler Truck Fuel Tank car Model Simulation Model Hot Educational Toy Black 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, RLJqwad Leather Backpack Marvel Heroes USB Charging AntiHero Student Backpack Computer Bag Travel Bag Venom Backpack 2and 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. Deluxe Acrylic Display Case for Figurine Miniature Doll Bobblehead or Action Figure with Black Back and Wall Mount (A016BB)He 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?RALEIGH Bikes MXR 12 Kids Bike with Training Wheels for Boys Youth 24 Years Old, bluee

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.2009 Charles Darwin 200th Anniversary Brilliant Uncirculated £2 Two Pound Coin Pack 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, Generic MJDToys ky602 Mini Foldable Selfie RC Helicopter Drone Quadcopter with WiFi Hd Camera VS ky601s xs809shw ky501w ky101s Drone Black 602 2.0mp 1byou 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, Victorian 4 Pcs Bedding Set King Size, Iron Ornament on Wooden Great Britain Gothic Revival Artwork Peace Print All Season Duvet Cover Bed Set, Silver Dark blueeand 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.Ultra Soft Flannel Blanket,Cars,Boyhood Dreams of Joyful Rides a Journey Above The Clouds with colorful Cartoon Cars,Multicolor,Lightweight Microfiber,All Season for Couch or Bed 50 x70 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.Ecoiffier 327 Tractor and Trailer Beach Toy 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.Hasbro E4921AS00 Marvel Avengers Assembler Gear Upgrades Rhino 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?GUND 4059961 Cozys Lion Plush Toy, Small

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyGeneric RC Mini Drone Toys for Kids Quadrocopter 2.4GHZ Profissional Helicopters Remote Control Quadcopter Drone D1 VS jjrc H36 White 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. 1 ICONIC ELEMENTAL Fire Symbol RED Deck Box , PLAYMAT and 100 DOUBLE MATTE Sleeves (fits MTG Mana FORCE OF WILL Pokemon Cards) by MaxProIn 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?Abdominal Sports Roller Double Wheel with Foam Handle Easy to Assemble, Abdominal and Back Sports Training for Men and Women Fitness Weight Loss

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.Welly 1 32 Diecast Scania V8 R730 Tractor Trailer Container Truck Red Model with Box Collection Christmas New Gift

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.Hinged Chafer Lid Cover Clear Plastic for Catering Or Buffet by Zodiac

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, Generic SJRC Z5 Drone with Camera 1080P GPS Drone 2.4G 5G WiFi FPV Altitude Hold Quadrocopter Follow Me RC Quadcopter vs E58 X12 XS812 Z5 5G 1080P 4 Bateryit’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. Ego 71364 Wade Nets with Medium PVC Coated RubberSo 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? ArtWall Dean Uhlinger Mothers Day Revisited Unwrapped Canvas Wall Art, 18 by 22InchAre 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. DC Collectibles DC Comics Bombshells Stargirl StatueSo 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.Pink Duvet Cover Set,King Size,Artistic Emblem Moose Head Horns Trout Salmon Sea Fishes Decorative,Decorative 3 Piece Bedding Set with 2 Pillow Sham,Best Gift For Girls Women,Olive Green Slate bluee Wh 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

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 Phat Rebuild of Evangelion Rei Ayanami Parfom Action Figure or the Wooden Puppy Manikin [Office Product].