Patrick Watson Finds Paradise

Patrick Watson Finds Paradise
Photo: Brigitte Henry
Montreal whiz kid Patrick Watson’s father is a pilot who taught his son that music comes from the sky. "He’s actually a very funny guy,” Watson says. "He studied science when he was younger and has this crazy theory that music comes from the sky and that, if you live in the city, there’s this interference where you can’t hear the music that’s supposed to be coming to you naturally, as a musician.” While Watson stops short of admitting he completely buys the idea, his latest record Close to Paradise certainly possesses a vivid, otherworldly quality, suggesting the right signals have reached him from on high.

Trained as a classical and jazz pianist, Watson’s been playing music for most of his 27 years and, together with a visionary band, he makes unparalleled orchestral pop music. Inspired by visual artists, such as close collaborator Brigitte Henry, Watson writes songs with cinematic flair, blending theatrical arrangements with lush, eclectic instrumentation to match his vision. "I started writing songs where I make a movie in my head and then I make a soundtrack for it,” he explains. "That helps me write lyrics and find a sound. That’s how I have to write; I get stuck in words without picturing stories in my head.”

The success of Close to Paradise is that its ambitious scope and stylistic amalgamation makes for a timeless record, conjuring indie-rock from the old-world, as if such a thing truly existed. For Watson, the process of crafting these songs is really joyful. "It’s like being a director on a set; if I have an image in my head, I might think, ‘Okay, I’m going to need a bit of country music to tell this story.’ So, it’s fun to bring so many things to these songs; it keeps us on our toes.”