At For Noise Festival I also interviewed the multi-instrumentalist and talented Canadian artist Owen Pallett. We talked about his new album, his collaborations with his friends Arcade Fire, and his new projects.
Thanks a lot to Owen Pallett and thanks to his agent and tour manager Susanne Herrndorf of PUSCHEN booking agency for making this interview possible!
The Liberation: You released two pop album under the name Final Fantasy and then you released two other albums with your own name. How did you do that and why did you choose to change?
- Owen Pallet: Well I didn’t really choose to change. My name Final Fantasy was a copyright infringement so I was asked by the people who held the copyright to change the name. So I just recurred to my own name ’cause at that time I think most people who cared about the music it was more about the people who didn’t do and they knew who I was so they were ok with me going with my own name.
The Liberation: Yeah. Ok so it was purely for copyright?
- Owen Pallet: Yeah, that’s the only reason.
The Liberation: Yeah. Ok. And how did the style change?
- Owen Pallet: It didn’t. No it was the same record, the partner record was usually gonna be a Final Fantasy record.
The Liberation: Ok. And how did you produce your new album In Conflict? You produced it in collaboration with Brian Eno, if I’m not mistaken, who also did albums with Coldplay and such?
- Owen Pallet: He didn’t produce the record no, he sang backing vocals on it.
The Liberation: Oh, he just did the backing vocals.
- Owen Pallet: That’s correct.
The Liberation: OK, ’cause in the For Noise booklet it’s written that he co-produced it.
- Owen Pallet: Somebody is lying.
The Liberation: OK. (laughs)
- Owen Pallet: Not me.
The Liberation: So he only did the backing vocals?
- Owen Pallet: I asked him for backing vocals but then he also contributed singing and guitar as well.
The Liberation: OK yeah. Did this have an influence on the record?
- Owen Pallet: Brian Eno has always been a huge influence on me, mostly because of songwriting actually and his singing to a degree. Because I have such a weird singing voice it’s been really inspirational to know that somebody like him could make beautiful records singing with a weird voice. So it’s been kind of a great relief to know that there was a place for weird voices in the world.
The Liberation: Yeah (laughs). Why do you consider your voice to be weird?
- Owen Pallet: I never did until people started telling me it was.
The Liberation: OK. And did they tell you the reason?
- Owen Pallet: No, they would just tell me that they’d like my music if I stopped singing.
The Liberation: OK (laughs)
- Owen Pallet: OK, then I sing louder! (laughs)
The Liberation: Revenge! How does your composition process work in general? Do you think about the music or the lyrics first?
- Owen Pallet: Typically the lyrics come last but the record I’m working on now the lyrics have all come first. Just a consolatory difference.
The Liberation: And why did you choose to do like that?
- Owen Pallet: I didn’t choose to, it just happened. I always try to work on lyrics on a daily basis or like at least once a week sit down and write some stuff. So it just so happened that I’d written down the lyrics before I’d written any actual songs.
The Liberation: Do you think this makes the lyrics deeper as they come first?
- Owen Pallet: I have no idea.
The Liberation: You have no idea.
- Owen Pallet: But I’m happy with the lyrics I’ve written so far.
The Liberation: So you thought about the lyrics and you just played on them afterwards?
- Owen Pallet: Well, this is the record I’m working on now. It’s the new record I’m working now, it’s the first time in which the lyrics have come first.
The Liberation: Interesting! If I’m not mistaken you are also the co-creator of Funeral by Arcade Fire.
- Owen Pallet: No not the co-creator I played violin on the record. I didn’t write those songs. I came up with some straight parts here and there. But it’s funny because the straight parts I vividly remember coming up with myself other people swear they were the ones coming up with them. So we never really know. Nobody actually knows yeah.
The Liberation: How was collaborating with them?
- Owen Pallet: It’s always great. They’re my best friends and I really love their music a lot so it’s always a pleasure to work with them.
The Liberation: So do you plan to work with them again?
- Owen Pallet: Always. You know every time they’ll have me back I’ll come and work with them. But like I said they’re all really close friends of mine and they live in Montreal, I get to see them a lot. It’s perfect.
The Liberation: You are a multifaceted and really talented musician. How do you manage to jungle between all these things? The many instruments and so on.
- Owen Pallet: I don’t know. It’s funny most days I actually feel depressed and lazy so maybe that’s part of it. It means just that if you always feel depressed and lazy it makes you want to work harder.
The Liberation: So it’s a way for you to be happy?
- Owen Pallet: Well any sort of creativity comes with a sense of dissatisfaction.
The Liberation: That’s really interesting. Do you have any projects for the future? Well you told me about this album you are creating…
- Owen Pallet: Yeah, I’m working on a new album called Island which is a follow up to the album Heartland. Although it’s a lyrical follow up it’s gonna sound very very different. So far it’s the most divergent record from all of my other albums, it’s very dark.
The Liberation: Maybe a very technical question but I noticed that on stage you play violin and the sound was recorded and used afterwards. How do you do that? Do you use a special equipment?
- Owen Pallet: Yeah, I use my computer with a looping software, it’s not particularly new it’s actually like I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now. There are bands who’ve been doing it for much longer, it’s becoming the dated sort of thing. In the future I might be able to play differently. You know in the future I may be able to play things differently, just the guitar, piano and kinda play the songs and see what will light up.
The Liberation: Ok, I’m done.
- Owen Pallett: Yeah, great.
The Liberation: Thank you very much.
- Owen Pallet: Yeah it was a pleasure talking to you!