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 (Cosplay Wig for Noragami Yukine).

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 King Size Landscape,Famous Monumental Valley Grand Canyon and Red Rocky Cliffs USA Arizona Photo Print, Brown 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.6PCS Lot Round Carbon Fiber Tube 5mm Hollow Tubes for DIY RC Model Fouraxis Sixaxis Frame Landing Gear Pipe Column 15cm Length

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.Spring Upgrade, peleustech nfstrike 12kg Modified Steel Spring for nerf nStrike mega Series redofury Blaster 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, Sunnyhome Throw Blanket Gender Reveal Cute Icons Girl Boy Autumn and Winter Thick Blanket W59x31Lended 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.Lais Jigsaw Bremerhaven 2000 pieces 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.Whirl Cosplay Boots shoes for The [email protected] Cinderella Girls Hayami Kanade

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

PW: I started with the sound.Bleach Renji 8 Plush 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. Fairy Girls bluee Wish Fairy Dress & Wand (Small)The 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.CLICS CK027 Tube 132 Special Tools Building Set

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. JSTEL Doodle Anchors Lightweight Blanket for Adults Men Women Girls Kids Girls Boys Teens Bed Extra Soft Polyester Fabric Super Warm Sofa Blanket Throw Size 60 x 90 InchAnd then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, Weighted Blanket for Kids,Guitar,Creative Musician Playing Jamming Instrument Acoustic Performing Vintage, Mint Green orange,Weighted Blanket for Adults Kids, Better Deeper Sleep 50 x70 without 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. Shut the Box Game Wooden by CHH by CHHCan 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.DIY Wooden Dolls House Handcraft Miniature Kit A Date So Sweet House Model & Furniture 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, ClookYeed 4 Pieces 130mm 10 Contour Dump Fetal Flower Off Road Wheel and Tyres for 1 10 Monster Truck Racing RC Car Accessoriesso 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.5 XuBa Unisex 17 Tune Finger Piano Beginner Portable Instrument Gift Toy 17Tone 4 Birthday Christmas Gift Present for Kids 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. The Stupell Home Decor Collection pap111_cn_16x20 Birds in Flight Black and White Photography Canvas Wall Art, 16 x 20It’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.GSI Creos GT94 Mr. Stands (3 Shelves) (Japan Import)

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.Eurowrap Mothers Day Bear Square Gift Bags (Pack of 12) (UK Size Large) (Pink) The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – Home Bedding Duvet Cover Set Bed Sheets Set Set of Three On The Bed Look Outside The World Animals Giraffes Lions Bears Trains Transport Transportation Soft Comfortable Breathable Twin Size. 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.Full Service 550 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle by SunsOut One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.Bam box replica movie prop american horror story hotel cortez room key dark matters

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)ArtWall Appealz Dean Uhlinger Mandatory Retirement Removable Graphic Wall Art, 14 by 18Inch

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, FidgetGear Gyroscope Metal Mechanical Toy Anti Gravity Balance Brass Holed Rim WK003 CI 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.TOOGOO(R) Alto Trombone Copper Mouthpiece Mouth Piece 6.5AL gold 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. 1Set Sticker Decal for Jeep Wrangler Heroes Wrangler Stickers Decal Jeep Wrangler Styling Decor Black for 1 10 RC BlackThere’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?Funko Pop Disney Stitch Vinyl Figure 6555 Predective Case

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.Marvel Heroclix Avengers Vs. XMen 101 Cable Limited Edition Figure with Card AVX LE by HeroClix 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?Scalextric C3839 Team GT Lightning Team GT Spartan (Comic Book)

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. Woodland Scenics O Hobos WOOA2734The 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.Ladies Imperial Empress Roman White Red gold Toga Greek Historical Fancy Dress Costume Outfit UK 816 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, WOW 10319 Poppy's Pony Adventure Farm (6 Piece Set)and 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. Pink Duvet Cover Set,King Size,Countryside Landscape in Vineyard Agriculture Winemaking Season Grapes in Farm Art Print,Decorative 3 Piece Bedding Set with 2 Pillow Sham,Best Gift For Girls Women,blueeHe 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?Popular Playthings Mix Or Match 3 Vehicle by Popular Playthings

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Generic DXW D3536 1200KV 24S Brushless Motor for RC FPV Fixed Wing Airplane Aircraft 2000mm 2M Skysurfer FPV Glider Plane Spare Parts 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, Hobby Eagle A3 V2 Laliva Hobby A3 V2 Hobby A3L V2 Aeroplane Flight Controller Stabilizer 3 Axis Gyro for Airplane FixedWing CopterFC (color Hobby A3L V2)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, Tamiya 54261 Carbon Steering Link FF03and 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.Ocamo Mark VIO Positioning 4K WiFi FPV with 13MP Camera Foldable RC Drone Quadcopter 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.Combat Commander Mediterranean by GMT Games 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.Kenner Tri Wing Batman Action Figure with TechnoGlide Backpack 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?BULING Cars 4pc Bedding Set Full Size, Vintage Car on The Beach with Palm Trees at Sunset Grunge Display Floral Lightweight Microfiber Duvet Cover Set, bluee Dark orange Pale Yellow

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyDanny Murphy Signed A4 Photo Framed Liverpool Memorabilia Autograph Display COA 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. Zatch Bell The Card Battle Level7 [Aoki Sekiseki no Koubou] Expansion Pack... (japan import)In 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?Kyosho Piston & Cylinder Set for KE25 Engine

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.Zicue Stylish Charming Bracelet Exquisite Ornaments Jewelry Fashion Opal Bow Bracelet Pearl Bracelet Jewelry Couple Bracelet ( color pink gold , Size A )

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.Peanuts Snoopy Vintage Character Hug Series Mini Tote Lunch Bag (Sigh)

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, The Orb Factory Sticky Mosaics Playful Puppies Craft Kitit’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. Learning Resources Frog Flip ChartSo 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? Black Creations Detail of Hope II Gustav Klimt 190708 Poster Canvas Picture Art Print Premium Quality A0 A1 A2 A3 A4 (A0 Canvas (30 40))Are 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.

Patrick Watson performing at Paard van Troje in The Netherlands in Safavieh Courtyard Collection CY6245244 Green and Beige Indoor Outdoor Area Rug, 2 feet 7 inches by 5 feet (2'7 x 5') (photo by Nick Helderman, Flickr Creative Commons)

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. Dora the Explorer Gift Bags Dora Gift Bag Set (6 Piece)So 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.Sky Diamond 23 Inch Poly Diamond Kite Ironman by XKites 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 Reduction motor gear Laliva 12428 12423 RC Car Spare Parts Upgraded Metal Front Rear axle Box or Differential Gear Set (color Set 11) or the Rubie's Official Leatherface 27 inch Chainsaw Deluxe Moulded Chainsaw with Sound.