Interview: Old Man Canyon on their musical evolution

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It’s been about three years since Vancouver’s Old Man Canyon released Phantoms & Friends, the debut EP that propelled the band’s steady rhythm folk rock into the spotlight and led to several syncs on televisions shows like Suits and Sons of Anarchy. Frontman Jett Pace hasn’t allowed success pigeonhole him or where he wants to take his music, however. He’s allowed his art to evolve naturally, in an organic progression that has him trading in acoustic guitar for vintage synthesizers.

“I just felt like I was kind of trapped and regurgitating the same songs over and over, so I got really into synthesizers and a lot of analog equipment and I guess that’s where it began,” Pace explains. “That instrumentation affected the songs that came out of those spaces. I guess I just wanted to do groovier, more upbeat stuff that people could people move to a little more. It wasn’t really a conscious ‘I want to change now.’ It was kind of where my creating led me.”

Pace’s sonic shift culminates on Old Man Canyon’s new album, Delirium. It’s a decidedly spacier, more futuristic soundscape that taps into the musical influences he grew up on, which spans genres from pop to hip-hop. “My mom was super into Michael Jackson and Prince and a lot of R&B and stuff,” he says. “I always loved that and I was very drawn towards pop melodies and more of that instrumentation than the folk world. And my dad was super into the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, so I guess I kind of had this balance of the two worlds and I feel like that can kind of be heard on this record — bits of both of those kinds of bands and sounds.” Hip-hop, Pace adds, has also always been one of his musical interests and became an inspiration for the album. “I think there’s probably some of that in the beats and the melodic structures are slightly influenced by that,” he says.

A shift of his lyrical narratives is something Pace maintains also hasn’t been a conscious change — rather, he’s just stuck with having a purpose to his music. “I think the main message is just how I experience the world,” he says. “What I see, certain issues that need to be brought to light maybe through a story of some sort. I definitely think it’s important to stick to having a vision and an intention to the message you’re trying to bring because without that, it just gets lost.”

Delirium consists of a lot of deeply personal subject matter for Pace — things like how to execute an artistic vision with social constraints and how to free oneself from a system that wants to maintain order. These sorts of topics found their way to the 350 songs Pace penned in the process of putting together the album in his little home studio. He ended up recording nearly 20 of those songs, 10 of which made the album’s final cut. Delirium, as a result, paints a bold portrait of an artist not afraid to challenge himself or push beyond his boundaries.

Old Man Canyon will be celebrating the release of Delirium with a performance at the Fox Cabaret on January 15.

Old Man Canyon

When: January 15, 2016
Where: Fox Cabaret – 2321 Main Street
Tickets: $16 via TicketWeb
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Yasmine Shemesh is a freelance writer who was born in Vancouver and raised on The Rolling Stones.
@yasmineshemesh

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