If you’re a regular reader of Sound and Noise, you know that we love Rich Aucoin. We were curious as to what new album, We’re All Dying to Live would entail, and I, at least, was not disappointed. For me, his live performances epitomize what pop music shows should look like (read our preview and review of the last time Aucoin was in Edmonton). So, when I heard Aucoin was coming to Edmonton again on March 7 at The Starlite Room, I gleefully added it to my calendar and jumped at the chance to interview this rising Canadian pop music star.
Jenna Marynowski: How did you start making music?
Rich Aucoin: I just played growing up in school bands, and then rock bands with friends after school, and took piano lessons and recorder lesson and all the “normal” lessons that people do.
JM: What instruments did you play?
RA: I played trumpet in the school bands and in jazz bands. Percussion in the school orchestra and mallets and things like that in the percussion ensemble. Playing bass and drums in bands. I took piano lessons, voice lessons, I did musicals. I was starting to play organ and starting to collect keyboards and synthesizers and stuff.
JM: Wow! That’s a lot of instruments. Do you have a favourite one?
RA: Probably the piano.
JM: I really like your new album, We’re All Dying to Live. One of the main phrases I keep hearing repeated about it is that there were 500 people who contributed to the album. How did you go about that? Where did that idea come from?
RA: I just want to do something different on each record. So the thing I wanted to do differently for that record was [having a bunch of people on it] and that kind of got out of hand and grew to 500 people. Logistically, I did a recorded version by myself back in Halifax and went across the country with a laptop and a microphone and recorded people over the parts that I had done and added new parts and was in and out of studios to get some parts done.
JM: So, were parts of the album recorded at live shows?
RA: Nothing at live shows. Some right before live shows. In a few bars, I set up my recording gear and recorded people right before I would start playing.
JM: I think that your live show is really amazing, it’s one of the reasons I started listening to your music. What has been your favourite moment at a live show. I’m sure they’ve all been incredibly unique, but do you have a favourite moment?
RA: Maybe opening for Of Montreal at The Metropolis. That show was pretty awesome. Or North-by-North-East, that was pretty awesome.
JM: What was it about those shows?
RA: Just a really awesome energy in the crowd before I even started playing. Then, as soon as the show started, just having everyone on board from the get-go. And when it starts like that, it can only get better. There’s been a lot of shows where the crowd is like that from the first moment. That’s awesome and it definitely makes you able to try a lot of fun things during the show. At The Metropolis, for instance, I was crowd surfing on an ironing board that I found backstage… It actually broke while I was on it, but it was fun until that happened.
JM: I think it’s really interesting that you’ve created a video to be synced with your latest album. How did you choose all the videos that compose that video, and how did you choose the special effects or filters that are added to it?
RA: I was trying to find one movie, and I watched like 100 in the public domain, and I realized I wasn’t going to find just one. So I started taking the moments that I liked from movies that I’d seen, and cut them together, and chose the filters as I went along. Just a lot of experimenting and juggling around.
JM: So that’s the second time that you’ve taken this approach of syncing an album with a video. What is it about that, that you enjoy?
RA: I like how it forces you to change whatever your writing to something else. That makes you re-think what you’re writing and how to get the square peg into the circle hole, or whatever.
JM: So, do you create the video at the same time that you’re working on the album, or does one come before the other?
RA: The film [for my first album] came first. For my second album, it went film, music, and then back to re-editing the film and the music at the same time. So, still film initiating the music, but just music also dictating changes that happened in the film.
JM: I noticed that you’ve also got an app. I’ve never seen that before, for a band. I think that’s sort of an interesting medium for your fans to interact with you. Where did that come from?
RA: My manager and the guy who does the design at Sonic [Records], Glen, were like “we think you should have an app! Here it is” and I was like “well, that looks pretty cool”. Then we made some decisions about what it would have. I kind of want to start putting more games on it, maybe even a remix section where you can go and get the stems of the songs [and edit them]. So, that’s going to come in an “app 2.1 update”
JM: I think it’s really neat that you use all these different types of media, as an artist. Are there any other types of media that you’d like to expand into?
RA: No plans to write a book right now. I definitely look at my making of music and film as one “thing” and I’m slowly working towards a plan where I’m actually going to shoot a film for a record. I’m doing it one piece at a time. So, the first piece was writing the score, this [album and film] was writing a score to something that I’d edited. The next one will incorporate things that I shoot, but no actors and no story line or dialogue. Maybe the next one will start to incorporate actors, but still no dialogue, and then the next one will have dialogue!
JM: That sounds like quite the progression. Have you taken film editing classes?
RA: I wanted to go to film school after high school, but I ended up getting sidetracked by studying philosophy. I think if I get serious about doing these sorts of ideas, I’ll be working with people who are professionals, so it will be done right.
JM: Do you have a vision of where you want pop music, or even just your music in particular, to go?
RA: I’ve got a one or two year vision of what I want to do. I’ve got hopes for the greater pop music too. I’m pretty excited about how satellite radio, for instance, is kind of changing the way the everyday people in their cars listen to music. Now everyone commuting in their cars has access to any type of music they want to listen to, as opposed to what’s been available on the FM stations. I think we’re going to see more emergence of mid-sized indie bands… I know a lot of people have switched from their local radio stations [to satellite stations] and now they’re hearing all these bands they never would have heard before. So, I think the Lady Gaga’s of the world, the stars of the pop world, will always exist, but what I’m hoping is that with this change, is that maybe some of the “fluff music” will get weeded out and be replaced with other music that [radio station programmers] will now realize there’s an audience for.
JM: So, you’re in Edmonton on Wednesday , March 7. I’ve been to one of your shows before, so I think I know what to expect. You were here in November… has anything changed in your show since then, or been added?
RA: Oh yeah, yeah. Lots of new mixes and different versions of the songs. Yeah, I’ve got lots of new things to try at the show too.
JM: Cool! Will your “trademark” parachute and confetti guns be making a re-appearance?
RA: I believe they will.
Rich Aucoin brings his pop music spectacle to The Starlite Room on March 7. Doors are at 8:00. Tickets are only $15.75.