Hailing from Montreal, Canada now residing in Los Angeles, Alone Architect creates cinematic, electronic music and nocturnal sounds. We had the chance to do a first Dark Beauty vs Alone Architect interview to bring out the surreal…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada and I now reside in LA.
What was your experience growing up in Montreal?
I’m honestly so grateful that I grew up in Montréal. It’s such a melting pot of cultures, styles, music, art and great food. I feel that so many artists that come out of Montréal have this hybrid kinda style where everything, all the influence, different cultures and the like get thrown into a blender. What results is generally some pretty unique art and a culture that, for the most part, encourages freedom of expression that embraces differences and individuality. I feel lucky; especially considering the recent US political results; and the current movement of hate, to have gone to school with people of every different race and ethnicity. Whereas there was for the most part, no segregation and fearful, hateful xenophobia. Montréal is a melting pot of ideas and of people. Of course, nothing is perfect, I feel so fortunate to have landed there, and grown up there by mere accident of birth.
Who are you as an artist?
Hmmm, that’s a great and difficult question. I think who I am as an artist is a reflection of who I am as a person and vice versa. My main goal in making art, first and foremost is to be true to myself. To express what I see as being honest and what feels right to me at that particular moment in time. Art is always a snapshot of who/where you are at that moment of life, and I feel that the best way to be a great artist, is to be true to yourself. To be yourself. That’s always changing, and I’d like to believe that my art is a reflection of who I am at that particular time. The minute you start to overthink things… to say “I wonder if so and so will like this”, you get mind-fucked. That’s the worst thing anyone can do, not only artistically, but in life in general. So as an artist, who I am will always change… which is completely normal. I create things I want to hear and see. As long as those things are honest and true, I feel content in my skin.
What instrument did you learn to play on 1st?
Piano was my first and bass was my second.
How did you discover your musical gift?
I started playing piano at age 6. My mom gave me the choice between piano and swimming lessons. I chose piano but I’ve always had a propensity for art. As a kid, even before music, I used to draw feverishly. I’m a noob sculptor, but I’m not bad at it actually. I really enjoy sculpting. It’s relaxing and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make prosthetics so this is the first step to that. I feel like music is my main tool, but if it wouldn’t be music, I’d definitely be doing something else in the arts. I just chose my weapon with music. I’m basically the pen, the vessel and the universe gives me these little gifts from time to time that I interpret in the form of sound. If not sound, again, it would just be something else. I could never sit in a cubicle or be a banker or anything of that ilk. That’s so incredibly depressing to me personally. I’m so thankful that I’m an artist, and have a calling in this physical life.
How would you describe your artistic direction?
Again, first and foremost, my main goal is to be honest with my art. With Alone Architect, it definitely lies on the more somber side of things. I aim to create beautiful songs, and there is beauty in darkness. I also try to challenge people’s perception of what art is, of what music is. There are so many copies of copies out there, and while I’m not going to sit here and say I’m the freshest thing since sliced bread, I do feel that I have my sound. I’m fully aware that I’m a bit left of center and I revel in that. Visually, the photos and artwork are as important to me as the music is. I aim to create a world and I’m not interested in comfort. I don’t necessarily think that all art has to be comfortable. There is beauty in discomfort. I often think of my songs as a novel or a movie. I aim to bring the listeners into a little world, where they can feel free to look around, forget themselves and be immersed by the story that’s unfolding.
Tell us about your recording process:
My process tends to differ from song to song. It also differs depending on the collaborators that I work with. Some songs can start with a melody. Others with a beat or a riff. Often I come up with ideas by just playing piano. Sometimes, a song will start with a lyric. I try to never approach things in the exact same way, so as to keep things fresh. I kinda hate templates as they force you to ALWAYS start in the same way but I do have several templates. For example, I have my orchestral template set up and ready to go, so as not to have to waste time loading sounds. I often change out a bunch of the instruments from my template as the song starts taking form. I love synths, programming synths and creating sounds, so there’s definitely a good amount of time that goes into trying to create unique sounds. At the end of the day, everything has to serve the song. All the sounds, all the production, have to support what the song is trying to say. If you’re able to get out of the way of yourself, and to listen to what the song is trying to tell you, you usually find your way. All the sounds, the process and the structure tend to fall into place. The minute you try to fight it, to fight where the song is trying to go, is the minute you get blocked. At the end of the day, regardless of what clothes you dress it in, I feel that a good song should be able to be played with a guitar or piano or whatever instrument and sung. To me the production and the sounds are just the clothes you choose to dress it in on that day.
Your track Faded featuring Dani Poppet is absolutely amazing. What’s the song concept and how did you both come about working together?
Oh, thanks so much for the kind words! I’m glad that you dig it. First off, Dani’s an amazing and super talented person. A great writer and a great singer/musician in general. We met through a mutual friend of ours with whom she’s in a band (Shallows) with. I was looking for some cool singers to work with and I hit him up and he referred me to Dani and that was that! In terms of the concept, ‘Faded’ is a love song. It’s a song about life and death. I have a few of those kinda themes going on with a batch of songs. There are 3 songs, all with Dani, that kinda tell different parts of that story. Faded, specifically is a song about the veil between our tangible, physical world and the spirit world or the next (fourth) dimension. It’s a song from the perspective of someone who recently died and is having a hard time just letting go and transcending for fear of never seeing/being with the great love of their life again. They’re trying to beckon their love to follow them to another plane of existence that they think is better. Closer to the source. So they can transcend together. They basically want their true love to kill themselves, so that they can be together. We all have our own ideas of what happens to our consciousness energetically, once we die. If we retain it and move on to a more evolved and aware state. Or if it just goes back into the flow of it all, the universe, and who we were, the thoughts we had, the energy we bottled for our briefest of moments in this particular life, explodes into a wave of everything and our individual “souls” or “spirits” cease to be. There’s also a huge possibility that there’s nothing at all. That’s it. The truth is, we don’t really know. As mortal beings, we desperately want to believe that we go on. That there is another dimension where we are going to transcend to, once we depart this physical plane. We want to think that we’ll still hold strong bonds to those that we loved dearly and the fiercest in this life. Which is where the idea of heaven comes from. That we’ll move on to another plane of existence together, as more enlightened beings. Beings working our way to the source of it all. To the light of enlightenment, where we’ll be able to rejoice forever and marvel at how ignorant and naive we were when trapped in our physical selves. Now, I’m in no way at all a religious person but I am spiritual. Those are two very different things and I think that most of us want to live on. We’re so self-involved and self-important that I think it’s hard for us to come to terms with our own mortality. That’s pretty much what Faded is about.
Top 3 influential artists for you:
Oh man, another tough one. I like sooooo much art and sooooo much music, it’s so difficult to narrow it down to 3, but I’ll try. Definitely Björk. I don’t think there are any words that I can verbalize that can express how much of an incredible artist Björk is. Def a desert island fave. Peter Gabriel more as a solo artist than with Genesis. Peter Gabriel is a legend and genius I respect him so much. Words do no justice to the brilliance of Peter Gabriel. Now, for the third one, man, this is tough. I’m going to go with a filmmaker here and say Darren Aronofsky. “Requiem for a Dream” is one of my favorite films and an incredible interpretation of Hubert Selby Jr’s book. There’s nothing about that movie that I don’t love. “The Fountain” as well. What an emotionally beautiful film. Those are my 2 favorite Aronofsky films with “Black Swan” and “Pi” close behind. He’s just a breath of fresh air in general, when it comes to film making. He’s willing to take chances and challenge the viewers instead of just regurgitating watered down, banal themes like so many filmmakers, especially in Hollywood, do nowadays.
If you could create your own custom instrument that would represent your musical soul, what would it be and describe it’s intricate parts:
Man, you have some great questions! I’ve never thought of this before. I think it would involve some kind of “wireless” connection to your brain, so that any sound you can think of (kind of like programming a synth), any melody can be immediately transcribed/recorded exactly the way you hear it in your head. My musical soul is so all over the place. I’m definitely into minor chords and am a bit of a sad soul, so maybe it would have a bit of the French Horn vibe to it or the Cello. I also really connect to the sound of the Duduk. Anything that has that forlorn, melancholic kinda vibe to it. As to it’s parts it would be some kind of hybridization of analogue and digital, with both a string and wind section. Maybe one mouthpiece for the Duduk-ish part and another for the French Horn part? So I guess it would be a synth/string/wind instrument that you hook up to your brain. Thinking of the way this could look is giving me a bit of a Frankenstein vibe, haha. Honestly, at this point in my life, I don’t think I’m nearly smart enough to conceptualize an instrument. Another of the reasons why Björk is such a genius is the way she co-conceptualized and commissioned several custom instruments for her Biophilia record. Needless to say, I ain’t no Björk, haha.
What places in Los Angeles do you dwell the most?
I don’t necessarily have any one spot. I’m more concerned with surrounding myself with good people. People of like mind. That way, no matter where you’re at, it’s always a party and you’re always in good company.
What do you have coming up next?
Next, I’m going to be releasing another song featuring Dani. I’m trying to release a song a month but I don’t know if I’m going to make that cut for this one because I’m currently working on a music video for it. I really want to release a video with this song, at the same time, so that may hold it up a bit unfortunately, just due to scheduling etc… Then December hits and everyone is so consumed with the holidays that I’m not certain it’s the right time to release music. The song itself is ready to roll out, I’ve got a bunch on the assembly line, many of which are just sitting and waiting for their turn. My plan as of now, is to release a string of singles and then compile them into an EP or record with several unreleased tracks. That’s the plan as it stands now. Aside from that, I’m working on a couple of other collaborations with other musicians and filmmakers. Either co-writing, producing tracks or scoring.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
I find that everything and everyone is/are so fucking concerned with being PC these days. People are afraid to show emotion. To be vulnerable. So many people feel the need to be safe for things to be digestible. I think that some people are afraid of the darker thoughts that creep into their minds on a daily basis. They can in fact be frightening, but I think you need to work through them, acknowledge them, to move past them. The only way out is through. It may suck balls going through it, but it’s something that needs doing if one has any chance at being happy. No doubt that each and every one of us, or most of us, want to be happy. Why wouldn’t we want that? Being happy is awesome but sometimes, you need to move through the shadows to get to the light. There is beauty in the shadows, we need that dichotomy and one can’t exist without the other. A good physical representation of something dark yet strikingly beautiful, are the designs of Alexander McQueen (RIP). So I think to me, it’s not about being enveloped with darkness, but rather being able to acknowledge the darkness in life and yet find the beauty in that. To turn that darkness into something beautiful. Something inspirational that brings light, that excites people, the lifts people up. That lifts ones self up. Dark beauty is about acknowledging those things that lurk under the bed, in the cracks of walls, and confronting them and bringing the beauty out of those things for all to see.
Photo credits Roniit and Justin Rosenberg