Owen Pallett

Published Dec 30, 2009

What are you up to?
I'm pretending to be a New Yorker. Staying in Chinatown, working on a film score. I love New York but I miss going out in large groups.

What are your current fixations?
I just got off tour with the Mountain Goats, so I've been listening to all these songs that I know from seeing them live but have never heard otherwise. The song "Against Pollution," I can sing it by heart, having heard 300 people scream along every night. But I only just heard the original version this morning. I'm on an "epic novels" kick right now, I'm just finishing The Sea Of Fertility by Yukio Mishima.

Why do you live where you do?
Toronto is a very friendly place.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
I'd have to go with Ryan Trecartin's I-Be Area series. They're on Youtube.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
Since I saw Dirty Projectors and Skeletons tear up Lee's Palace this past summer, I've tried to think critically about what is, actually, the best gig I've ever seen. Locally, I'd go with Deep Dark United's New Year's Eve show at Lee's Palace, 2005.

What have been your career highs and lows?
My career high was getting a fan letter from Van Dyke Parks. My career low was playing Tilburg in 2006. The crowd was bad; the food was bad.

What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
Nico Muhly routinely says the meanest shit to me, it's very refreshing. After one gig, he wrote an email describing all the ways he hated the performance, finishing with "I am frustrated and extremely disappointed in you." I wish more people were as effusive with their put-downs as he is.

What should everyone shut up about?
Describing things as "overrated."

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I like the way my eyebrows are shaped. I dislike my lack of booty.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Easy: skiing with my mom, followed by an evening of smoking hash with my dad. (Note: my father doesn't actually smoke hash.)

What advice should you have taken, but did not?
I should've given up on the internet years ago, but I've been on it for so long it's hard for me to think about life without it.

What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Cocaine use.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Those fucking oil sands.

What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
Cassette: Bartok, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste. CD: Björk, Debut.

What was your most memorable day job?
I've worked as a ski instructor, a tarper-strapper, a cook, a CBC music producer, a bumblebee farmer, and a violinist at a Renaissance Festival. All memorable.

How do you spoil yourself?
An endless supply of sparkling water.

If I wasn't playing music I would be...
For some time now I've been toying with the idea of quitting music and entering the medical profession, but gigs keep getting booked, songs keep getting written, so I don't know if it'll ever happen.

What do you fear most?

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
My boyfriend, see above answer, but after a few drinks, I'll spoon with anyone in the room.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
This is a tricky one, I've had many celebrity encounters and most of them are weird. Probably the weirdest, though, was meeting the singer from Lilys when he was super fucked up, in NYC in 2003. He grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted, "Steady Beats! Also! Diverging Patterns! And! Rolling Stones! Furthermore! Accomplice Of Evil! And!" and it went like this for some time.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Walt Whitman; vegan veal cutlets.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
My mom has always been supportive of my music, even when I was busking on the street corner.

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
Morton Feldman, "For Philip Guston," starting it very quietly and having it crescendo, until, by the moment they drop my casket into the ground, it's rattling my dead bones.

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