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Owen Pallett’s In Conflict resolution

One of the busiest musicians in Canada makes a stop in Halifax for In The Dead of Winter.


Pallett explains classic themes like love and sex on In Conflict. - CREDIT WWW.MYLESPETTENGILL.COM
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  • Pallett explains classic themes like love and sex on In Conflict.

Owen Pallett w/Dance Movie
Thursday, January 22, 8pm
The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street

Owen Pallett is one of the busiest musicians in Canada. With a solo career spanning a Polaris Prize win, multiple records—including his latest, In Conflict—he's a recent member of international musical explosion Arcade Fire, garnered an Academy Award nomination for his work on the score to Spike Jones' film Her (co-written with Will Butler), but he won't complain about being musically conflicted.

"It's not really a pull or a divide, there's a time when my life is wrapped up in other people's business. Working with Arcade Fire on Reflektor sank my record release," says Pallett. "Not entirely, but we lost half the passengers that we could have done. I wasn't able to get on late-night TV. We had to work with some promoters that didn't do great job."

Released late May 2014, In Conflict is Pallett's fourth in his discography, including He Has A Good Home (2005) as moniker Final Fantasy, as well as He Poos Clouds (2006), which took home Polaris Music Prize and Heartland (2010).

"I wanted In Conflict to be a sort of metaphor, a hand outstretched, to have these songs feel like they were reaching out to people, offering support," he says. "The hand outstretched metaphor went both ways, I was in need of support, and in need of assistance. I didn't realize that when I was making the record that it was a cry for help."

For Pallett, a classically trained violinist, known for his multi-phonic looping, composition, keyboards and vocals, In Conflict is directed towards personal discovery, some very close friends who he loves to cook for at home, others who live faraway—all were going through various states of mental illness, relationship struggles and gender troubles. At his core, he believes music saves lives.

"From year to year, I am always developing new ways of coping—finding my happy-making place," he says. "There are a lot of things that people associate with happiness—money and love. Those are wonderful things to have, but they come with as much sadness.

"I've been in love a few times in my life, and it seems when you're in love, you're actually feeling an abatement of this terrible desire. I found myself in love, sitting by the phone. Why don't you text me back?"

Naturally, love, sex and relationships are themes explored in his work. For the past decade of his career, arts journalists have asked Pallett about his sexuality, which is and isn't a relevant question.

Now living with his long-term boyfriend in Montreal, after 15 years spent living in Toronto, it's not about coming out, but if queerness creates a different creative lens.

"I thought it would be implicit to queer people, the act of having to come out to their family would naturally translate to making good subversive art, already having to prioritize their body over the needs of society," he says. "But I don't think that's the case. Queerness has sort of come to the forefront in my music, in a way it didn't back in 2005. My records are increasingly more queer and subversive in musical and functional ways."

"In Conflict draws more on my personal experience, I tend to gravitate to specific details," he says. "Certainly, many of those experiences involved sex. Or love. Or dates. There are other songs that involve no sex, no dates. "The Sky Behind The Flag" is kind of the end of a relationship, when the passion fades, and it didn't end up being anything."

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