Montreal musician Patrick Watson (photo by Patrick Gouin)

By Anita Malhotra

AluminiumDibond image 120 x 30 cm Skyline Schweiz , image on a AluminiumDibond

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 (Yahtzee The Nightmare Before Christmas).

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 Just Ducky by Sharon Forbes, 14x19InchChris 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.KON Hirasawa Ui 1 8 PVC Figure

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.Trademark Fine Art DLG00894C1419GG Fine Art, 14x19, Multicolor 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, Magic the Gathering Sacred Foundry (245) Gatecrash Foil by Magic the Gatheringended up circling the globe and became this kind of go-to video to show people the potential of VR.

Trademark Fine Art The Wind in The Dunes I Wall Decor by Noah Bay, 8x24

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.Harvest Throw Blanket Agriculture Theme Vegetable Pattern Corns Pumpkins Sunflowers Velvet Plush Throw Blanket 60 x 60 inch orange Yellow Pale bluee 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.Lounayy Women Backpack Pu Fashion Waterproof Style Fashion School Backpack Leather School College Backpack Teenage Shoulder Girls Use with Vintage (color Beige, Size One Size)

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

PW: I started with the sound.Dinosaur Party Cute & Cuddly Dinosaurs Qualatex Latex Balloons x 25 by Dinosaur Party 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. Anhounine Animal,Blackout Curtain,Kids Nursery Boys Girls Baby Room Clumsy Cartoon Cute Elephant Image Print,Patterned Drape for Glass Door,Baby bluee and White,W55 x L63 inchThe 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.Kid Stuffed Storage Bean Bag Chair Canvas Thick Fabric High Capacity Suitable for Stuffed Toys, Clothing, Towels Storage

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. Art Source 24 x24 Vivid Floral III Crop Wall ArtworkAnd then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, Crimean War 1854 4th Light Dragoons Charge of the Light Brigade (5 Mounted) 1 32 Armies in Plasticwithout 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.

LIWEIXKY DIY Digital Painting Set, Flowers , Spring color, Paint By Numbers For Home Decor Gifts,Framed, 50x60cm

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. Caribbean Stud Poker Home Card GameCan 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.RenteriaDecor Book, Curtains Girl and Cat Sleep on Book 52 x63 Digita Draft Pattern Technoogy Curtains 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.

Monster High Toy Deluxe School Playset Opens To 1.2 x 1.5 Meters Dolls Not Included

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, AmaPark Digital Printing Blanket Viruphaksha Temple View up from The Hills Above City Buildings Rock Tower Summer Quilt Comforterso 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.3Doodler Start Product Design Themed Activity Kit (3D Pen Not Included) 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.

K'Nex Mighty Makers Home Designer Building Set

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. NACOCO Dog Shark Costume Cute Pet Clothes Halloween Holiday Coat Hoodie Cats Dogs (L)It’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.color14 62\ SINOVAL Green Warm Microfiber Fashion Blanket Doodle Style Cute Kids Girls Pattern with Daisy Flower Blooms Print Artwork Image£¬Multicolor, Olive Green Light Green Turquoise

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.Tourna Ballport 85 Ball Pick up Tennis Hopper The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – 30 x 9 Balloons Balloon Helium Gas Disposable Cylinder Canister Birthday Party 30 150 Balloons (80 x 9 Balloons). I begged them at that time to do their music, and then years later they finally connected with me.

Daron Runway 24 SE5 Red Baron Die Cast Vehicle

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

PW: We have two more projects going on now as we speak.All Season Solid 1pc Duvet Cover, Zipper Closure Hypoallergenic Soft Breathable Quilt Cover for King Queen Full duvetsL 150x200cm(59x79inch) One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.ZHAOYONGLIstools Footstool Work Stool Beauty Stool Shower Stool Step Stool Bath Bench Bathroom Corner Thicken Short Plastic Change shoes Multifunction Household Creative (color Offwhite)

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)Ladybirds & Ladybugs Personalised Baby Shower Invitations

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, Black 15x20cm ECYC 50pcs Vintage Linen Burlap Bags with Drawstring for Wedding Party Favor Pouch Jute Gift Bags,15x20cm,GreyI 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.Donkey Racing Game Retro Range Toys and Games by House of Marbles 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. Lowepro DroneGuard CS 300 Case for Quadcopter Drone 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?Celebrating Barbie Bathing Suit Barbie

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.2015 Ford PI Utility Interceptor Black & White Police Car with Light Bar 1 18 by Motormax 73542 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?Funko Figurine Shopkins Apple Blossom 10cm 0889698107426

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. A blessing to this wonderful world Rubber play mat a blessing to this wonderful world The 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.Tiger Creeping 18791 Wild Animal Plush Tiger Lying Down Plush Soft Toy Jungle Grass Large Cat 65 To 103 cm 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.

E 35x220cm(14x87inch) DHSNJKL Table runner table flag bed tail flagB 35x220cm(14x87inch)

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, color03 90 x70 SINOVAL Letters Warm Microfiber All Season Blanket Girly Feminine Typography Set colorful Letters with Flowers Birds and Butterflies Print Artwork Image£¬Multicolor, Multicolorand 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. Greenlight Hitch & Tow Diecast Series 2 1967 Ford Bronco and Small Cargo Trailer by GreenlightHe 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?Pokémon Pokemon Finger Puppet Mini PVC Figure Tabunne Audino

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Pentel finger paint red WHGT11 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, LEGO Racers 8167 Jump Riders [Toy]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, Superhero Superman Costume 40 Chestand I thought that was cool.


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

Pawn Black Deathstrike Lady XMen Marvel Chess Magazine Collector with Piece 62672xixu9713-Chess

People mistake these things as hobbies because they like to play the piano or they like to play an instrument.Manhattan Toy Groovy Girls Super Duper Silk Screening Set by Manhattan Toy 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.Disney Princess 11 Piece Tea Set 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.bluee Koala Medium CANASOUR Halloween Women's Brown Sloth Adult Unisex Onesie Pyjama 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?Trademark Fine Art Pointe shoes by Aimee Del Valle, 14x19

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyDress Up America Kids Doctor Role Play Dress Up Set 37 Years by Dress Up America 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. WWE Brock Lesnar Figure Series 60In 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?Ultra Pro (80 Count) Red Mana Symbol Deck Predector Sleeves Magic the Gathering

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.2 33150 Pastoral fashion simple European table flag placemat coaster coffee table cloth table coffee table flag bed flag (33200, 011)

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.Car Decorations Solar Aircraft Interior Personality Creative redating Small Fan Decoration Supplies

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, U.S. Toy Plastic Pirate Treasure Chest Box for Party Favors and Small Toysit’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. Turquoise Darice Bracelet loops x300 + Sclips x12 brown, BrownSo 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? Zagone Studios Grave Mistake Latex Mask With HoodAre 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 Keiki Kuddles Plush Toy Baby Humpback Whale by Welcome to the Islands (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. B 1802002CM JIA LIANG Baby Play Mat Reversible XPE Foam Floor Playmat Unisex Playroom & Nursery Mat for Infants, Toddlers & Kids,C,180 200 2CMSo 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.Cache edge tea Bear Music speaker stuffed (japan import) 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 GBY Die Casting Model Car Sports car model 1 24 simulation toy car metal toy alloy car model car toy Alloy model car ( color Red ) or the Marvel Licensed Ultimate SpiderMan Vs The Sinister 6 Jetpack 2CH IR RC Helicopter.