OK. Owen Pallett. Nerdfox. Geekboy. Violin virtuoso. Started music lessons at a young age, played in ‘crappy rock bands’ at school, went to university to study music composition, where he began taking the violin more seriously. Post-college, he found himself with no work as a composer, but in high demand as an arranger. He worked with local Toronto bands such as Picastro, the Hidden Cameras, and the Arcade Fire. He had no real prospects as a solo artist till touring with the Arcade Fire, who asked him to open for them, at which point he realised that if he was going to make any money from this music lark, he’d better have an album to sell. Young Marble Giants and Guided By Voices flung albums together in a week – why couldn’t he?
So he did, and Has a Good Home was ready to go a week later. Final Fantasy was born. The records feature strings, timpani, drums, horns, organs and choir, while live he prefers to play alone, using a looping pedal to sample his violin. He plays over the loops, accompanying them with fey melodies and yelps and shouts – it’s an awkward, intimate, beautiful experience to see him play.
don't let your cock do all the work
Owen mixes it up, that’s what he does. He takes classical music and brings it into the hipster domain. He takes an album of string quartets and puts the word ‘poo’ in the title to make people laugh. He explores grandiose themes of self-delusion, isolation, fear of death – using concepts derived from a game whose title has become a codeword for total geek inadequacy. (More on this below). He drops a graphic line like ‘don’t let your cock do all the work’ into a song that, musically at least, you’d be more than happy to play to your religious mother-in-law. And of course, the ‘high culture’ of classical music and the ‘low culture’ of computer games are inextricably intertwined throughout the whole Final Fantasy project. Luckily for me, low culture in all its forms are my speciality, so Plan B flew me to Cologne to meet up with Mr Pallett and all the charming men of Tomlab.
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