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 (Papin is panda Coquette ball chain).

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 Alisoso Going Away Party,Kitchen Curtains Good Luck Note colorful Gerbera Daisies Botanical Composition Art Print 42 X63 Picture Print Decor CurtainsChris 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.Laliva 270 QAV250 220mm QAVX 214 Nova 235mm Floss 2 215mm Quadcopter Frame kit RS2205 2300kv 34s Motor 20A s ESC (color with X220 Frame)

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.Pink 10x22mm Pink GEMInside Black Biwa Pearls Gemstone Loose Stick Point Beads Natural 12x28mm Energy Stone Power for Jewelry Making 15'' 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, Loiazh Image Printed On Non Woven Canvas Wall Art Print Picture Photo 5 Pieces Frameless Spaceman and Planet 55x22 45x20x2 35x20x2(cm)ended 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.Table ware East Hotel Square Dish (17.5Cm) 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.Caseys Distributing 3208514324 Wisconsin Badgers Temporary Tattoos

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

PW: I started with the sound.LQY Outdoor Leisure And Leisure Backpack Men And Women Travel Computer Bag Hiking Backpack Backpack AntiTheft Waterproof Street Backpack 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. 1 24 JZX90 Cresta (Model Car) Aoshima The Best Car GT No.17The 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.008 Smart Selfie RC Quadcopter Drone with 720P Live Video HD Camera Altitude Hold Headless Mode One Key TakeOff RTF

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. Generic Jule Uj99 2815b Rc Car Romote Control Truck 2.4ghz 1 18 Rc Car 20km h High Speed Racing Rc Electric Car Off Road Truck GreenAnd then the rest was what would this space actually sound like, Handheld Magnifying Glass Foldable with Stand and Ligth 3× Zoom 7cm Diameterwithout 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. J.N.R. C5692 Miyazaki Engine Depot Imperial Car (Model Train) (japan import)Can 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 Soft Blanket Twin Size Princess,Magic Wand Little Pony 60 x50 ,Soft Blankets for Kids 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, Raquel logic booster L &LEB01 Tokonatsu rack BOXso 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.SIRIO S21BK EVO4 engine 625 026 (japan import) 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. Generic ALZRC Devil X5 Metal Flybar Control Set X5 Helicopter Parts fit GAUI X5 BlackIt’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.Multi 10 60 W x 80 L Emvency Throw Blanket Warm Cozy Print Flannel Cute Animals Cat Dog Elephant Alligator Lion Zebra Pig Unicorn Rabbit Koala Bat Comfortable Soft for Bed Sofa and Couch 60x80 Inches

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.720P 2.0 MP HD WiFi Camera Endoscope Wireless Endoscope 2 in 1 IP67 Waterproof Snake Camera The director always has to be the director.

I met them after they did their first film that went to the Oscars – Trademark Fine Art Drama Llama on Text Art by Fab Funky, 14x19. 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.Club Pack of 12 JackoLantern Pumpkin Light Halloween Decoration 4 One is a 20-minute short and one is a full feature musical.Girls French Style Sleeping Bag Featuring French Postcards, Butterflies and Flowers by Envogue Pajama Club

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)Sportagraphs LTD Ricky Gervais Signed A4 Framed Autograph Photo Display The Office TV AFTAL COA

PW: I go to work every day and write every day. When I travel, Paradise Galleries Mexican Baby Doll Hispanic Reborn Rainbow Blessings Joy, 5Piece Gift Set, 19 inch GentleTouch Vinyl & Weighted BodyI 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.Light Yellow 500Yard, 1Pack Morex Ribbon Patriotic Stars 3Pack Ribbon, 11 2 Inches by 66 Yards Total, Red White bluee, Red White bluee, Mixed Widths, 82 Yds 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. Whirl Cosplay Boots shoes for Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony Akamatsu KaedeThere’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?Soft Rubber Realistic 6 Inch Alligator Hand Puppet (Light Green) by Fun Stuff

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.Home Bedding Duvet Cover Set Bed Sheets Set Set of Three On The Bed Summer Strawberry Watermelon Pink Soft Comfortable Breathable Twin Size 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?Campanulaceae Wakaka Reusable Zipper Thermal Neorpene Insulated Cooler Lunch Bag Shoulder Strap School Lunch Box Picnic Bag Tote Travel Organizer, Keeps Food Fresh (Campanulaceae)

PW: The thing about singing in a choir is they’re not your audience and you’re not on stage performing. Generic New 1 28 Remote Control Car Racing Toy Car Voice Smart Watch VoiceActivated Watch Rechargeable Radio Drift Car Electric GreenThe 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.Mattel Monster High Vinyl Chase Venus Figure 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.

When I watched James Brown when we toured with him, he had a very large level of humility when it came to music, Universal Head Spool Line Replacement for Lawnmower Strimmer Trimmer Brush Cutterand 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. Dreamworks Dragons – Barrel Roll Toothless Dragon Toy with Lights and SoundsHe 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?UBTECH JRA0201 JIMU Robot Mythical Series Unicornbot KitAppEnabled Building & Coding Stem Learning Kit, 440Piece, Purple

PW: I started playing the piano around a year after I started singing.Zicue Stylish Charming Bracelet Exquisite Ornaments Bracelet Wide MultiLayer Fashion Classic Simple Tassel Alloy Diamond Female Models 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, Japan color Exclusive Cliffjumper Takara First Edition (japan import)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, European and American Halloween Wig Long Curly Corn hot Chemical Fiber Small Wave Pattern Wig Headgearand 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.XavieraDoherty Camping Blanket,Starfish,Whale Silhouettes with Seastar Pattern in Pastel colord Illustration, Peach bluee Navy bluee,Flannel Blankets Made with Plush Microfiber 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.RC Digital LCD Display DC Battery Power Analyzer Watt Meter 60V 100A 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.color04 90 x90 SINOVAL Island Map Warm Microfiber All Season Blanket Funny Cartoon of Treasure Island with A Pirate Ship and Parred Kids Play Room Print Artwork Image£¬Multicolor, Multicolor,Fashion Blanket 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?Generic 1 10 Scale 4WD Waterproof RC Racing Car Dune Racer Remote Control Toy RC OffRoad Car 4WD RC Climping Car Rock Crawler RTR Toy 1

PW: It’s a mixture more of the older records than the new ones because the older records reallyInfloatables Exclusive Stuffed Animal Collection (Unicorn) 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. Generic Center roll bar Set for 1 5 Scale HPI KM Rovan Baja 5b 5t 5scIn 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?A Black Beckoning Maneki Neko Fortune Cat Japanese Oriental on Daruma Doll Solar Toy Housewarming Gift Home Decor B11876

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.XinYxzR Cute Seal Soft Stuffed Plush Doll Toy Throw Pillow Kids Girlfriend Birthday Gift 80cm

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.GOOLRC 4 Pcs Original High Performance Rubber 1 10 Rally Car Wheel Rim and Tire for Traxxas Tamiya HPI Kyosho RC Car

Lyrically, the voice is very different – it’s very low, Loftus International Serpentine Throws (50 Packages Box)it’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. Lightweight Disney Princess Tote BagSo 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? Pink Queen FADFAY Cute Girls Short Plush Bedding Set Romantic White Ruffle Duvet Cover Sets 4Piece,Purple QueenAre 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 Large Stuffed Plush Tan Pug Dog Puppy Pet with Pink Heart Collar 15 inches (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. Pink Zebra Jasper 8mm CHEAVIAN 35PCS 10mm Natural bluee Tiger Eye Gemstone Round Loose Beads for Jewelry Making DIY Findings 1 Strand 15 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.Marvel Avengers Infinite Action Figures Wave 3 Marvel's Ares 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 Baby GUND Mermaid Playset by Baby Gund or the WindnSun 48 inch WindDelta Nylon Diamond Kite TIKI.