Polaris Music Prize winner strives to help artists record
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You’re going to wait awhile if you’re after the upcoming Final Fantasy album.
Even when it does finally arrive in 2008, you’ll get “nothing,” the man behind the handle says.
“It’s going to be more ragtime, less showtune,” Toronto’s critically acclaimed experimental pop fiddler Owen Pallett laughs. “It’s going to be a concept; Seinfeld, the album you could call it. It’s officially about nothing.”
In the meantime, the inaugural Polaris Music Prize winner for last year’s He Poos Clouds is up to a little bit more than nothing, such as recording tracks for Beirut and Deep Dark United. He’s also getting ready to discuss DIY recording tonight at Harbourfront’s Brigantine Room with his partner in crime Steve Kado, founder of Blocks Recording Club, a not-for-profit recording label.
The group’s mission is to show the musically-inclined they can record songs and make money without the help of established labels.
“We’re not tearing down any gauntlets,” Pallett says. “We want to show people it’s possible and profitable to release records on their own. We want to present people with an alternative. Blocks has the best back catalog I’ve ever heard. It’s not profit-margin music.”
Accuse him of being a string-wielding Spartacus fighting against the hegemony of the city’s wealthy and powerful and Pallett may deny it up and down. Although his work does point to the contrary upon first listen.
The track This Lamb Sells Condos off of his latest disc would appear to be a condemnation of a local condo tycoon Brad Lamb, if Pallett didn’t bother to explain it.
Pallett claims while living with his boyfriend in a condo unit, he could hear through the ceiling his then-neighbour Lamb having a heated discussion with a woman (Lamb says he can’t recall any conversations to that effect in a recent Torontoist online piece), some snippets of which he used as lyrics in the song: “I’m just saying this cause I love you ... you know I hate it when your friends are in the pool, old money stinks, send those f------ back to Forest Hill ... contentment, what’s contentment, I am bald and impotent, is that what this is about?”
Pallett maintains the song was not a dig at Lamb himself, but a satirical allegory for condo life.
“It’s not a personal indictment of Brad Lamb,” Pallett says. “I even e-mailed and apologized and I told him, ‘I’m so sorry, that was not meant to be an attack against you.’ Ninety per cent of it (the lyrics) is true, though. ‘Bald, impotent’ and ‘f------’ were made up. It’s a satire about condos, and the way condos are being sold as a lifestyle.”