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 (Ecst Cosplay Wig for Steins Gate Makise Kurisu).

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 Trademark Fine Art Fall Market I Pumpkin PatchChris 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.Size 4 da Vinci Travel Series 1523 Watercolor Brush, Size 4 0

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.PearlRolan Weighted Blanket for Kids,Floral,Vibrant Hibiscus Flower Bouquet Exotic Watercolor Artwork,Fuchsia Green Earth Yellow White,Weighted Blanket for Adults Kids, Better Deeper Sleep 50 x70  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, Forge the Galaxy TCG playmat, gamemat 24 wide 14 tall for trading card game smooth cloth surface rubber base by Masters of tradeended 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.Wing set (Piper J3 Cub EP400) A652811 (japan import) 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.Drill Reamer Tool for Tamiya Mini 4WD Racing Car Model bluee

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

PW: I started with the sound.14kt Yellow gold Plated Sterling Silver 5 8 Inch Hibiscus Stud Earrings 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. Multi 2 Twin BULING Retro 4pc Bedding Set Twin Size, Nerds at Work Grunge Fictional Sign Glasses Hazard Stripes Work Hard Theme Floral Lightweight Microfiber Duvet Cover Set, Yellow Black GreenThe 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.Designart Mt14200C11 Peony Flowers in Vase on Table Floral Disc, Pink, 11 x11

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. Character Sleeve Predector [Maxim of the World] Vol.3 Rebuild of Evangelion [I mustn`t run away]And then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, TERABITHIA 24 Alive Fridolin Soft Touch Silicone Pretty as a Princess Reborn Baby Girl Dollswithout 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. 25cm Scottie with Coat Soft Toy DogCan 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.Rhodonite 10mm Matte Gemstone Beads for Jewelry Making, Sold per Bag 5 Strands Inside (Matte Rhodonite, 10mm) 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, Monkey Plush Puzzle by Puzzle Palsso 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.Baosity 50cm Real Life Baby Girl Doll Vinyl African Newborn Infant in Pink Dress 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. Lustrous Pearl Bead Bracelet With gold colord Detachment ClipIt’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.Modern Crafts, Creative Home Decoration, Office Decorating, TV Cabinet Porch Decorating, Leopard Shape

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.Hakorumu bears of school gardening kit colorcoded prePlastic The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – Emvency Throw Blanket Warm Cozy Print Flannel Brown Pattern of Beige Flowers Peony on Deep Red Stripes Watercolor colorful Comfortable Soft for Bed Sofa and Couch 50x60 Inches. 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.Piko Women's Famous 1988 Short Sleeve Bamboo Top Loose Fit Small Black One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.Ravensburger Outer Space 100 pc Puzzle

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)Trademark Fine Art Autumn's Diversity Wall Decor by Kurt Shaffer, 6Inch X 19Inch

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, Wolfe Face Paints Red 30 (3.17 oz 90 gm)I 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.Mookie Deluxe Design Studio Aqua Crystals 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. Jukebox Bet Set 4pcs Bedding Sets Duvet Cover Flat Sheet No Comforter with Decorative Pillow Cases King Size for Kids Adults TeensCharcoal Grey Backdrop with 50s Inspired Radio Music Box ImageThere’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?ARIGHTEX Teen Soccer Bedding Set 3 Piece Boys Sports Themed Duvet Cover Crack Ball Breaking Pattern Green White and Black Bedspread (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.34 1 10 Scale Beadlock Metal 1.9 inch Wheel Rim w Hub for RC Crawler SCX10 CC01 D90 1pcs 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?Auvoau Pink Yellow bluee Cup Pattern Kids Girls Duvet Cover Sets, Full (4pc Without Comforter)

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. Large Jumbling tower 17 inches tall 51 large wood piecesThe 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.Vocaloid 2 Hatsune Miku cosplay costume New 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, Pokemon card Game SM ABO (C) Tradition which Shinesand 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. One Piece Super Ship Collection Best 10 pieces (PVC Figure)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?New Low Temperature Stirling Engine By Letbo

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Emergency Blanket Baby,Typography Pattern Language of Parents Newborn Boy and Girl Rubber Duck Diagonal Lines,Multicolor Microfiber All Season Blanket for Bed or Couch Multicolor 60 x62 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, Masters of the Universe Classics Club Eternia Vultak Action Figureyou 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, Women's shoulders package stylish leather rivets backpack leisure and travel, backpack ,Aand 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.Baoblaze Real Life Soft Silicone 22inch Reborn Baby Kits Head 3 4 Arms Full Legs Mold Coffee Mohair Hair Dummy Pacifier 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.SoccerStarz SOC1051 The Officially Licensed Belgium National Team Figure of Michy Batshuayi in Home Kit by SoccerStarz 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.Creative Build a Radio Control Sports Car 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?Club Pack of 12 Hanging Silver Foil 3D Star New Years Party Decorations 12

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyPathfinder Battles Ruins of Lastwall Cemetery of The Fallen Premium Set translate well to orchestra. They’re closer to classical music in the mood.

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Patrick Watson and his band performing with an orchestraDONGER Cute Alpaca Doll Toy Doll Big Pillow Birthday Gift Girl Cute, Pink, 35 Cm (photo courtesy of Patrick Watson)

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. Feather on water flying chalk 150g Hakuho (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?1000 PCS Puzzle Wooden Jigsaw Educational Toys Gifts Home Decor 7550CMA10

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.Care Bears SingALong Plush Share Bear

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.New Dresses Butterfly Princess Fancy Dress for Little Girls Costume Cosplay

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, GOTHAM Gotham select Jim James Gordon by Diamond Selectit’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. Spandex Sofa Cover Elastic Couch Cover AllInclusive Sectional Corner Cover for Living Room l Shaped Sofa Cover funda Sofa 1PC color 3, Cushion Cover 2pcsSo 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? Heng Long 2.4Ghz 38381 1 16 US M26 Pershing (Snow Leopard) Tank RC TankAre 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 Board Game No Fading Tablecloth,Game on Notebook Paper Kids and Building School Route Fun Challenge Enjoyment Decorative for Table Outdoor Picnic Holiday Dinner,60''W X 102''L (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. Flight Without Wings 550 Pieces by SunsOutSo 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.WinfreyDecor Soft Blanket Twin Size Ancient,Ethnic Aztec Style Pattern with Abstract Mayan Authentic Folk Figures Artistic Image,Red Black 60 x50 ,Soft Blankets for Kids 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 Doctor Who 12th Dr. Sonic Screwdriver with Touch Controls and Removable Power Core or the Leopard Silhouette Laser Stencil Kit 18.5 x 9 cm Creative Decoration, Textiles, Paper, Scrapbook.

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