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Interview: Old Man Canyon

By Landon Bailey

(Photo: Cody Briggs)

Old Man Canyon is a Vancouver-based band led by Jett Pace. Radio Humber’s Landon Bailey spoke with Pace about the band’s first full length album, titled Delirium, the shift in their sound from folk to synth based music, and the themes behind Pace’s lyrics. 

You just kicked off your tour, how’s it been going so far?

It’s been a lot of fun so far, the shows have been well attended, it's been a ton of fun playing the new record. It’s been well received and yeah hopefully it continues

The Phantoms and Friends EP has a distinctly Folk-pop sound, which seemed to gain traction with listeners and even earned you some features on television shows. In contrast, the new album Delirium is a departure from that. What inspired you to take your music in this new direction?

I think it was just a natural evolution of what I always listened to. I was always listening more to this genre of music. I think it was a whole lot of experimenting, and what I wanted to facilitate at the shows was more of an upbeat, more fun vibe, and I think the songs really came from that. And yeah… I was sick of folk. (Laughter) 

Did you feel it was kind of limiting you in what you were able to express?

Yeah I just felt kind of trapped in the dynamics that folk music kind of encompasses and yeah, I can’t stay focused when I feel trapped so I have to keep exploring.

You use synthesizers that musically is something people might associate with more urban or city music, whereas lyrically on the album it sounds to me like there’s a yearning for more rural things like seeing the stars, trees, things in nature, and escaping the city. Was that an intended juxtaposition between the sound quality of the music and some of the lyrics?

I don’t think it was a conscious decision, The lyrics that I always want to include in my songs and the meanings behind them are always kind of centered around trying to find who you are as a person, trying to understand what it means to be an artist, just the struggles we all face as human beings. I want to explore things that touch deeper than just the surface, that I feel a lot of music does. Hopefully my music always has some meaning in it.

One theme I picked up on was self-actualization, especially on a song like “Chances”, it also talks about the self-imposed obstacles that can prevent us from chasing our dreams. Is that important theme for you?

Yeah, absolutely. Just being in the music industry, I mean whatever industry you’re doing, whatever job you have, we all face that struggle of trying to figure out what is serving our greatest potential, what is our purpose. I hope my music always allows people to question that and hopefully come to some answer in some form in how to obtain that for themselves.

One thing I noticed is that the dance floor comes up in quite a few songs like “Chasing Smoke” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”. There’s almost a sort of disdain for it. Is this due a dislike of the hedonistic club lifestyle or maybe just a lack of dance moves?

(Laughs) I have nothing against dancing or dance floors. I think it came from a frustration with... that's the only way people have fun, that’s the only way people express themselves is by getting heavily intoxicated and going clubbing. Most of my friends... they only look forward to Friday and Saturday. Why can’t there be meaning in the other days? So I think that’s where it was born out of, just a frustration with what the youth, or just most of the world, think as important and think of as having fun.

What are some other things in your life that you drew inspiration from during the creative process for this album?

I mean everything kind of leaks into the lyrics. Anything that I’m going through. I think what I was going through in the writing of this album was just really, what I was said before, what it means to be an artist... kind of the responsibility that I think musicians and artists and just people in general have. There is a frustration with art and the current themes it encompasses. I think there’s a lot of wasted potential in people’s voices. I think people need to, well they don’t need to, but I think it would be useful for everyone to dig a little deeper and figure out what we’re actually trying to facilitate here as people.

What do you feel Old Man Canyon brings to this style of music that’s unique? 

Yeah I think the lyrical content mixed with the vibe is something that’s kind of different. I feel like a lot of music that has the kind of dynamics that I’m playing with often is very surface level in the content of the meaning of the songs. I think that’s what I think pop music needs more of. The melodies are so great and that's what captures people, but often the themes are so vague and so shallow. I think that's what could change the whole industry and the listener’s experience is inserting some meaning into good melodies. 

You mentioned there has been a shift in the crowds in that you’re having more people dancing. Does that make the show more fun for you, and what do you hope people will get from your live performance?

Yeah man, its great to see people moving and not just bobbing their heads. It really adds to the energy and gives a lot back to us and allows us to give a bunch more into the performance. So yeah, I hope that’s what people take away from it, just a really kind of introverted experience... yet very shared. I hope that people are inspired to dig a little deeper, as I said before, and maybe create something themselves.

Thanks again for doing this Jett. 

Thank you, man. 

SoundCloud link: https://soundcloud.com/landonbaileyradio/old-man-canyon-interview