During Polaris Prize week one’s thoughts inevitably travel to who will win, who has won and the stories that fall within that realm. With our congratulations going to winner Tanya Tagaq, I wanted to showcase a previous winner, and performer at this year’s festivities, Owen Pallett.
Composer, violinist, vocalist and overall musical genius, Pallett’s resume is long, varied and incredibly impressive. Pallett first came into the music scene under the alias Final Fantasy, releasing two albums Has a Good Home and what is probably my favourite album title of all time He Poos Clouds, both albums a gamer’s dream: many of the songs, as well as his musical alias were inspired by multiple popular video games for yesterdyear, including Super Mario Land (a personal favorite of mine as well). With the release of Heartland Pallett began using his own name. A master collaborated, Pallett has worked with indie rock royalty Arcade Fire, Stars and Beirut, he’s performed with british hearthrob Alex Turner (of Arctic Monkeys fame), written orchestral arrangements for Pet Shop Boys and Robbie Williams, and is currently working on what will sure to be beautiful and cinematic sounds with Foxes in Fiction. Speaking of cinematic, Pallett has also contributed his talents to multiple movie soundtracks (including box office hit Her, that earned Pallett and collaborator Win Butler an Oscar nod), and occasionally by accident, multiple commericals. Ever able to turn a negative into a positive, Pallett has a history of redirecting funds from these “accidents” into positive directions, including donating all proceeds from “Adventure.exe” to Doctor’s without Borders, having Wiener Stadtwerke pay for a music festival of his own curation after the company used “This Is The Dream Of Win & Regine” without permission, and even donating his Polaris Prize to musicians in financial need, after winning in 2006.
Pallett’s live performance, that I was lucky enough to take in at the Emerging Music Festival earlier this month, was absolutely outstanding. Goosebump inducing, mind altering and chill giving musical goodness eminated from Pallett’s stripped down arrangements on the stage in Rouyn. Interviewing Pallett after being so completely blown away by his performance was probably one of the bigger challenges I’ve faced as a music writer; turning myself from a pile of jiggly goo on the floor of that church, to a semi coherant interviewer was damn hard, and frankly I’m not even sure I was all that sucessful at it. But thanks to the grace, kindness and intelligence of Mr. Pallett, it turned out pretty good. Take a listen below and get addicted to Owen Pallett.