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 (All two Neon Genesis Evangelion Extra Aphrodite figure (japan import)).

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 Sally Nightmare Before Christmas by Nightmare Before ChristmasChris 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.Red set height WIFI 200W Amyove Quadcopter SMRC S1 Mini Square Set Height Folding Uav 4Axis Aircraft Remote Control Drone Toy HD Record Teen Best Gift for Kids Silver set height WIFI 200W

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.Star Trek USS Enterprise 1701 Refit Die Cast 5 Spaceship w Magazine by Eaglemoss TOY 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, HiMedia TS10375VL Woody Plant Microelements (100X), 5 VLended 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.bluee Duck Stickers, Boy Baby Shower or Ducky Themed Birthday Party Favors Sticker Labels, 2 Inch, 40Pack 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.Doodlebops Rooney Todler Costume Size 2T

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

PW: I started with the sound.Marcus Mariota Tennessee Titans NFL 37 McFarlane Collector Level Silver CHASE 1000 by Unknown 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. AMT 1 187 Vulcan Shuttle 10 Star Trek Kit AAMT641The 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.Nendgoldid Plus Lucky Star cosplay charm all species set first step

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. Pillow One Piece New Going Merry Head Toys Anime Licensed ge45554And then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, WXFO Anime model Toy Figurine Toy Model Exquisite Ornament Decoration Souvenir 11CMwithout 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. Haba Pushing Vehicle Tony TractorCan 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.LD 1 Pair Contact Poi Pendulum Reel Turn Play Tricks Spinner 3.42 Inch (87mm) Balls Green color 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, Trademark Fine Art B&W Flight II by Ingrid Blixt, 12x19so 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.Charlie Bears Jane Cuddly Collectable Teddy Bear Soft Toy 38cm 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. Walthers Predo 9209328 85' PS 664 Sleeper ATSFIt’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.Poacher Spawn Classics Spawn 34 McFarlane

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.A Toaryong Home Furnishing Jewelry Ornaments Elephants Living Room Tv Cabinet Decoration Cabinet Decoration Crafts,A The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – 7 Led Alarm Clock Digital Electronic Clock Quiet Mute Home Leisure , 6. 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.Trademark Fine Art Vintage French Fashion II by Unknown, 12x19 One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.JTWJ Halloween Ghost Festival Scary Horror Black Society Boss Funny Latex Full Headgear Old Man Mask

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)CAYYOU DIY Digital Painting By Numbers Christmas Snowman Oil Painting Mural Kits coloring Wall Art Picture Gift Framed 50x60cm

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, Shisky Cosplay Women's Clothing, Halloween Vampire Earl Cosplay Costume Ghost Bride Queen Witch OutfitI 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.Pretty Pale Coral Floral Diamante Personalised Birthday Party Invitations Invites & Envelopes 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. Eflite RDS76 7.6Gram DS76 Digital SubMicro Servo by EfliteThere’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?Super Robot Wars Fairylion TypeG Fine Scale Model Kit

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.Small World Toys Ryan's Room Educational Thistle Blocks by Small World Toys 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?Speedmar Kids Musical Jewellery Box Cartoon Milk Car Cat Dancing Music Box For Birthday Gift and Wedding Decoration

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. Madame Alexander Explosion in Pink Outfit, Fits 18 doll, Favorite Friends Collection by Madame AlexanderThe 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.Mask Deluxe Terror A Ghost Chasing Mask Thriller Nuns Head Latex Toy Animal Head Mask for Funny Halloween Costume 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, Reminisce Signature Dimensional Stickers Sheet, 4.5 by 6Inch, Family Vacationand 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. Trademark Fine Art Fly by Moises Levy in Black Matte and Black Framed Artwork, 11 by 11InchHe 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?Puzzle House Paint Max Paint by Numbers Kits for Kids Adults Beginner Teens Pine Framed DIY Oil Acrylic Painting Paint Sets, Coloured Cat 520 (color With Pine Frame, Size 600mm x 750mm)

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Kids Supergirl Glitter Logo Cape 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, Homyl DIY Assembly Miniature Dollhouse Kit with Furniture, LED Light, Music Box and Dust Cover 4you 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, Marvel Legends Giant Man Series Variant Sentry with Beard Action Figure with Giant Man Piece by Toy Biz by Toy Bizand 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.Yunfeng Witch Costume Halloween Witch Posing Role Playing Vampire Witch Queen cos Costume 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.Trademark Fine Art Abstract 09 by Mako, White Matte, Wood Frame 11x14 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.LAMBORGHINI MURCIELAGO ROADSTER 1 24 DIECAST by Motor Max 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?GXL Sports car model simulation alloy static car model toy car model collection decorative sports car model 1 18

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyHemp 100 40 g 136 m 5 pieces Set fine 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. Revell 44199 redor Set (23939), Multi ColourIn 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?Isle of Man 2014 Diamond Finish Snowman and The Snowdog Christmas 50p Coin

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.Trademark Fine Art Bright Believe I by Viv Eisner, 14x19

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.Faux Real Tees Men's Long 1960's Suit (UK 4446) Large by Faux Real Tees

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, Starfish Beach20yag7631 59x79inch=150x200cm YEHO Art Gallery Super Soft Blanket Flannel Fleece Bed ThrowBlankets Home Decor,The Owl On Branch Winter Landscape Warm Blankets for Sofa Couch Bedroom Living Room,49x59 Inchit’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. Disney Princess Disney Princess Enchanted Evening shoes Sleeping BeautySo 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? 96 Pieces Glass Beads of Swarovski Elements Bicone 8mm (colormix), 96 PiecesAre 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 ZPeng Inflatable swimming pool floating toys, water inflatable toys, swimming pool pontoons, swimming party toys, fun beach floating, swimming pool (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. Limit EA009 TS Valorius Pirate Corsair Woman Costumes (Small)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.Aeromax Jr. Physician Toddler Costume 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 JAYLONG PVC Inflatable Black pink Pool Float, Water Inflatable Bed, Swimming Pool Beach Entertainment And Leisure Inflatable Recliner Cushion or the TCC Replacement Wing Set (2) by Predoform.