Mostly Experimental, Sometimes Folk
“I figured one instrument per song would be the way to go.”
When I ask BRIAN CAMPEAU whether or not his Canadian roots are to account for the imagery used in the video for the beautiful song Montreal and for the artwork of new album Mostly Winter Sometimes Spring, my naivety shows like an American in Paris. After Brian reveals that the director of the video was essentially trying to swindle him into giving money he never had, he adds, “on the outset I think [the director] put a lot of stereotypes in, with the idea in mind that Canada is like a fridge, and that we’re all lumberjacks.” I’m also told that the album artwork was “by an Australian and I just told him that I wanted the artwork to be stark.”
Though the wintery artwork successfully portrays “stark,” Brian’s music is anything but. Greatly impressing the likes of people like triple j’s Vijay Khurana with his 2006 debut, Two Faces, Brian has once more produced an album with experimental finesse; this time conceptually performed one instrument per song, including melodica, glockenspiel and even a sitar, among others. Brian explains, “the last album was a lot more electronic and what I was trying to get across to people was that I wanted to make things differently. For this album again I wanted to do something different (and different from what I do live) but I didn’t want to recreate the electronic aspect. I figured one instrument per song would be the way to go.”
Beyond the conceptual and experimental approach, Brian has a talent for writing emotive melodic songs. Comparisons with Nick Drake, Bon Iver and Angus and Julia Stone are made fairly. Whether or not this makes Brian a “folk-type” musician is debatable, as he contemplates. “I don’t think I fit into any sort of category apart from experimental. In terms of comparing myself to say, José González, I don’t really consider myself folk. I would say I’ve got more in common with jazz, even though I wouldn’t call myself a jazz instrumentalist in any way.”
Since the multi-instrumentalist performs with a number of bands and musicians (his cover of Björk’s Army of Me, with Elana Stone, is an accomplished slow rendering of the original), it’s understandable that he would consider himself experimental before anything else. Brian adds that he’s just as experimental on stage as he is in the studio. “I approach the guitar from a very think-outside-the-box angle; I’ll scratch the strings, hit the guitar percussively, rather than just strumming a few chords.” He has also encouraged drummer, Nicola Ossher, to hit pots and pans.
Brian is currently touring for his Mostly Winter Sometimes Spring tour.
Author: Peter Rosewarne