Impersonator

IMPERSONATOR

1. Impersonator
2. This Is Magic
3. Childhood's End
4. I Do Sing For You
5. Mister
6. Turns Turns Turns
7. Silver Rings
8. Illusion
9. Bugs Don't Buzz
10. Notebook


Dedicated to the people the songs are about.

Songs written by Devon Welsh

Produced by Matthew Otto Kolaitis and Devon Welsh

Mastered by Dmitri Condax at Ithaca Mastering, Montreal

Artwork Design by Erik Zuuring / Devon Welsh / Alex Brazeau



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Canada: MP3 iTunes LP+CD

This is a clip from the website our friend Denis made for the song “Love Soul”.

This is the website: http://majicalcloudz.com/lovesoul/

This is a clip from the website our friend Denis made for the song “Love Soul”.

This is the website: http://majicalcloudz.com/lovesoul/

Victor Burgin, “Any Moment,” (1970)




0
ANY MOMENT PREVIOUS TO
THE PRESENT MOMENT


1
THE PRESENT MOMENT AND
ONLY THE PRESENT MOMENT


2
ALL APARENTLY INDIVIDUAL
OBJECTS DIRECTLY EXPERIENCED
BY YOU AT 1


3
ALL OF YOUR RECOLLECTION AT 1
OF APPARENTLY INDIVIDUAL OBJECTS
DIRECTLY EXPERIENCED BY YOU AT
0 AND KNOWN TO BE IDENTICAL
WITH 2


4
ALL CRITERIA BY WHICH YOU MIGHT 
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN MEMBERS OF 3
AND 2


5
ALL OF YOUR EXTRAPOLATION FROM
2 AND 3 CONCERNING THE DISPOSITION
OF 2 AT 0


6
ALL ASPECTS OF THE DISPOSITION
OF YOUR WON BODY AT 1 WHICH 
YOU CONSIDER IN WHOLE OR IN
PART STRUCTURALLY ANALOGOUS
WITH THE DISPOSITION OF 2


7
ALL OF YOUR INTENTIONAL BODILY
ACTS PERFORMED UPON ANY MEMBER
OF 2


8
ALL OF YOUR BODILY SENSATIONS
WHICH YOU CONSIDER CONTINGENT
UPON YOUR BODILY CONTACT WITH
ANY MEMBER OF 2


9
ALL EMOTIONS DIRECTLY EXPERIENCED
BY YOU AT 1


10
ALL OF YOUR BODILY SENSATIONS
WHICH YOU CONSIDER CONTINGENT
UPON ANY MEMBER OF 9


11
ALL CRITERIA BY WHICH YOU MIGHT
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN MEMBERS OF
10 AND 9


12
ALL OF YOUR RECOLLECTION AT 1
OTHER THAN 3


13
ALL ASPECTS OF 12 UPON WHICH
YOU CONSIDER ANY MEMBER OF 9
TO BE CONTINGENT

tonjethilesen:

On tour with Majical Cloudz. Devon Welsh in Buffalo, NY, before the show.

tonjethilesen:

On tour with Majical Cloudz. Devon Welsh in Buffalo, NY, before the show.

(Source: )

This is the music video for the song ‘Savage’. We wanted to make something simple, so my friend Igor came over and we shot it really quickly. He edited it and sent a version of it to me later that night. I tried my hardest to write the lyrics out in time with when they appear in the song. This didn’t work out very successfully so Igor edited the footage a little bit in order to keep the pace.

Nov. 20th & Nov. 23rd – Montreal – Club Soda (for M for Montreal)

            Unedited thoughts on recent Montreal shows…

A couple of (possibly) obvious questions: how do the sizes of venues and crowds affect the nature of performances? How are certain ways of conceptualizing performance related to the spaces in which the performers work?

We played two of our last shows of the year in Montreal recently, for the M for Montreal festival. Each offered a distinct and archetypal show environment, and my contrasting experiences made me think about some things that I feel are worth writing about.

A word on the festival: M for Montreal invites music industry people of all types to come to the city and pays their expenses so they can see, write about, or work with musicians from Montreal and (ideally) spread the gospel about the city’s culture. On one weekend a year shows are set up all around the city in venues ranging from the biggest legitimate venues to the smallest illegitimate after-hours clubs.

The first show was on a Wednesday night at a roughly 100-capacity venue called Casa del Popolo. Matt and I played our 4th ever show there as well as the release party of an EP we released in December 2012. Casa is a fixture for local shows in Montreal. The space is intimate: the stage is low, the lights are dim, and local artwork hangs on the walls.

            The show at Casa was reserved for festival delegates only. I imagined it was booked as an opportunity for these music industry people to see Montreal bands in a more intimate setting than they may have had the opportunity to if it was a show open to the public.

As I watched the earlier acts perform to a room of loud conversations I assumed we would be playing over the sounds of networking delegates. When we went on and performed the room was very quiet and involved despite it being at capacity. It felt nothing like I had expected based on the nature of the attendees. I had gone into the experience somewhat cynically but quickly dropped the idea that I was playing solely for the detached scrutiny of professionals. The people in attendance just felt like any other receptive audience. If anything the context contributed to the respectful silence, as they were there to listen.

            I think that part of the success of the show had to do with how the assumptions about performance that are embedded in our music match with the show environment that a place like Casa del Popolo has to offer. Our music commands attention in small spaces. When foregrounded vocals are combined with a close proximity to the presence of a human body onstage, it promotes attention. Someone is speaking and they are right there. When the music accompanying the vocals is minimal and (at times) quiet, there is little room for distraction. You can talk over it, but everyone, including the performer, will hear you. The music does not create a general atmosphere so much as it looks out at you.

            The fact that our approach to performance fits in a space like Casa del Popolo is no accident. The music we performed that night, mostly from “Impersonator”, was in many ways written and arranged for rooms of that size and feeling. At small shows and house parties the louder the music is the more it can easily be perceived as a soundtrack to socializing and drinking. A wall of sound does not speak to individuals; it provides a certain type of energy and leaves the audience to do with it what they will. When music in these contexts is quiet and looks outward (musically and physically) it can feel like a conversation.

I remember playing a show in my friend Matthew Duffy’s tiny living room to 10 or 12 people. One person on the couch was talking to their friend. The couch was no more than 10 feet away from me so I simply walked over and knelt down in front of them while singing. We looked at each other for a moment and then they stopped talking and watched the rest of the performance. This is the feeling Matt Otto and I sought to create from the beginning: not only is the singer singing to you, you are within his reach. You are not apart from what is going on, watching from the sidelines. You are emotionally and physically implicated in the performance.

The second M for Montreal show took place a few days later on a Saturday night at a roughly 900-capacity venue called Club Soda. This was the first show Matt and I had played there. Club Soda is one of the bigger downtown venues that host shows by big acts. The last time I was there was for a sold out Grimes and Elite Gymnastics show in September 2012.

            Our Club Soda show was a co-billing with Mac DeMarco, a musician I’ve known for a long time now and have great respect for. Unlike the Casa show this one was open to the public via the purchase of tickets, and it sold out in advance (a significant number of ‘spaces’ in the venue were reserved for delegates and those with artist badges, so something less than 900 tickets were sold).

            Just like the Casa show, when we went onstage the venue appeared to be close to or at capacity. The difference between a packed 100-capacity venue and a packed 900-capacity was vividly apparent. The performer becomes a body off in the distance, dwarfed by the size of the stage upon which they stand.

            We have played to comparably sized rooms before, most recently in Paris for the Pitchfork Festival. That show took place in a gigantic converted slaughterhouse. We played for a crowd that was roughly equivalent in size to the one at Club Soda. Despite the circumstances we managed to preserve the important aspects of the approach to performance I mentioned earlier. The crowd was quiet for its size; at one point I stopped and said nothing in order to hear the sound of a noiseless crowd of hundreds of people.

            For any number of factors not limited to but including the time of night our set started (12:45AM), the demographics (overwhelmingly College-age) and the other act on the bill (the notoriously hard-partying, skin-bearing Mac DeMarco and crew), the Club Soda set felt somewhat scattered.

            At large venues people need something physical to unite them with each other and get them moving. Our music rarely uses traditionally ‘percussive’ sounds, and the voice sits at the front of the mix. In the small spaces I have discussed earlier this functions as a focus-orienting device because the human body attached to that voice is very much present and near. When the body becomes disengaged from the voice and is shrunk by the size of the stage, the voice loses its focus-orienting power. The performer can no longer be singing to you, as you are no longer within their grasp.

            I felt that parts of the back of the room never really got focused on what was happening onstage, and I think this is because the sheer size of the room does not accommodate affective subtlety or minimal music. The people near the stage were all very committed to the performance and I felt a relationship with them, albeit more impersonal and painted with broad strokes. I felt no possibility of relationship with those at the back of the room, so it did not bother me at all that some were talking. If I was in the audience and a band with our attitude to performance was playing, I would either get to the front or just tune out and wait for the set to finish.

            The very same set went over very well at Casa del Popolo and awkwardly at Club Soda. Part of that has to do with the fact that our approach to performance was developed for and influenced by venues of comparable size and atmosphere to Casa. As a band we have only recently begun playing rooms of comparable size to Club Soda, and the success of those shows has been much more dependent on circumstances. If a large crowd is willing to accept the performance on our terms, it will work, but unlike in a small venue, those terms are not automatically set by the space. The larger spaces of big venues offer a different default set of terms with which to engage the performance.

            Music that fits best in big venues is not inherently better or worse than music that fits best in small venues. In each case the music is created with a certain set of intentions and functional uses, and to facilitate a certain relationship with the audience. As Matt and I continue to make music and perform live, our relationship with spaces may change. We have spent the last year performing in venues with capacities ranging from 200 to 2000, and this may in some way inform the music we make. Our intended relationship with the audience will remain the same, but we may judge the ‘effectiveness’ of certain sounds or songs based on the experiences we have had in these bigger venues.

            This entire train of thought crossed my mind as I watched the Mac DeMarco performance that followed our own. Mac is a magnetic personality who does not seek to draw the audience toward a place of introspection, and instead provides them with the opportunity for extraverted carnal-bacchanalian celebration. A small army of drunk, naked young men partied onstage. The songs themselves had a different feeling than on the record: they seemed slightly slower in tempo, the drum parts were more cymbal-heavy, and there were many guitar solos.

            It was one of the more energetic shows I’ve seen this year and the crowd was going wild. I believe it worked so well because Mac DeMarco & Co’s approach to performance was perfectly suited to the venue space. It’s heightened energy reached even the people at the back. It did not demand a personal engagement with the performer, but rather an engagement with the energy of the crowd itself. Such a performance would have been overwhelming and terrorizing in the intimate space of Casa, but Club Soda provided the context necessary to take it in.

Great live video of “Savage” when we performed it in San Francisco in August, filmed by my friend Mark Sandford!

"Savage" is a song we have been playing live for most of 2013. Many people have asked me on Tumblr and Twitter what this song is called and when it will be released, so here it is!

I think it’s important to explain a song a little bit, but not too much. The song is written about a specific set of circumstances and experiences, and Matt and I did such-and-such when we recorded it, but ultimately what the song is ‘about’ is less important than how and why it is meaningful for you when you listen to it. Explaining too much about the details of the song is not the point, so I won’t.

"Savage" is about a friendship, it’s mysteries and it’s moments of excitement, and the way drugs played into all of it. It’s about letting go of a relationship as it changes and the emotions that go along with that.

The song was originally a lot more minimal, just piano loops and bass. As we played it live it evolved a little bit, Matt started incorporating reverb swells and exploring the ways those could be used (along with a number of other additions) to create dynamics in the song.

Happy to be releasing it! It’s been fun to play it live over the past year.

Oct. 24th – Helsinki – Kuudes Linja

 We left our car at the Stockholm airport in the morning and took a plane to Helsinki, arriving in the early afternoon. The promoter of our show that evening, Valter, met us where we were staying in Helsinki. He was the most interesting promoter I have probably ever encountered. He was by turns charismatic, bizarre and hospitable. He took us everywhere we needed to go all day, had lunch with us, had dinner with us, took care of us at the show, and stood with us outside at the end of the night while we waited for a taxi. He was an advocate for Helsinki and also a complete open book, relaying the story of his life and mind to us throughout the roughly 12 hours we spent with him. I smile as I remember him because he was unique in a somewhat indefinable way.

The show itself was a lot of fun – the audience was akin to what we experienced throughout Scandinavia: respectful, applauded a lot. There was one specific person in the crowd, a man who I could not see but whose voice was very deep, rich and comforting. He initially said something in response to a question I had asked from the stage, and then throughout the show I returned to him to ask him how he thought things were going or where he was in the room.

Afterward I did a short interview with three young Russian guys for the online publication. They asked me a question relating to something I had said during the performance, “Is it better to scare the audience or to be scared by the audience?” to which I responded that the former is always better. Being scared by the audience can be quite a negative experience in certain circumstances. Scaring the audience is in some sense part of the ideals of performance in general (I use ‘scare’ to refer to the idea of bringing the unexpected to the audience; ‘saying’ something that they either do not expect or do not want to hear, doing something that is felt to be ‘new’).

Oct. 24th – Helsinki – Kuudes Linja

We left our car at the Stockholm airport in the morning and took a plane to Helsinki, arriving in the early afternoon. The promoter of our show that evening, Valter, met us where we were staying in Helsinki. He was the most interesting promoter I have probably ever encountered. He was by turns charismatic, bizarre and hospitable. He took us everywhere we needed to go all day, had lunch with us, had dinner with us, took care of us at the show, and stood with us outside at the end of the night while we waited for a taxi. He was an advocate for Helsinki and also a complete open book, relaying the story of his life and mind to us throughout the roughly 12 hours we spent with him. I smile as I remember him because he was unique in a somewhat indefinable way.

The show itself was great and felt very much akin to our experiences in the other Scandinavian cities. The crowd was quiet and respectful. I primarily remember this one guy, who I could not see but whose voice was very deep and comforting. He initially said something in response to a question I had asked, and from then on I repeatedly asked how he felt about things, or where he was.

Afterwards I did an interview with three young guys for their online publication – they all seemed to be Russian. They asked me a question relating to something I had said at the show: “Is it better to scare the audience or to be scared by the audience?” And I told them that the former is always better. Being scared by an audience is actually quite a scary thing. Scaring an audience seems close to the ideals of what performance is in general (I use ‘scare’ loosely but I use it to mean giving an audience the unexpected, showing them or telling them things that they either did not expect or did not want to hear).

Oct. 23rd – Stockholm – Debaser Strand

 For the show in Stockholm we opened for another band from Montreal called Half Moon Run. They were all really nice people but the pairing did not make a lot of sense musically/aesthetically, so some of the audience seemed skeptical of what we were doing. By the same token there were a number of people who left after watching us play. Ideally neither of those things occurs during a show, but especially not the latter. 

Stockholm was a beautiful city. I would be saying more about all the places we are visiting – their look, their feel – but that is a whole different consideration and something that I’m not including in these skeletal notes on the shows.

When we do support shows, the litmus test of whether an audience is interested in what we do is how they react when we perform the acapella of “What That Was”. In this case, I felt a sense of confusion from some of the people in the crowd, which made sense because if they were there to see Half Moon Run they probably thought we were total weirdoes.

“What That Was” was the last song that we performed as we had hit a time limit and were asked to cut off our set. It was a reasonable request because it was not our show, but it still threw me off and as a result I didn’t feel very good about this show. There was this one guy at the front of the stage whose enthusiasm was primarily what I remember from this whole experience.

Oct. 22nd – Oslo – Blaa

To get from Copenhagen to Oslo we had to cross a massive suspension bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden. It reminded me of traveling through Louisiana and Florida, other places I have been through on tours with massive, seemingly uninhabited spaces and large bridges allowing people to traverse what would otherwise be impossible terrain.

The Oslo venue was less highly decorated than Copenhagen and felt emotionally very warm. Again there were candles but this time they were little tea lights spread throughout the space.

I spoke at length to the guy who would be doing the lighting for our show. In Europe we have had the privilege of playing at venues where there are people who are actually focused entirely on lighting. In the past we have not had to do nearly as much involved thinking about how we conceptualize our lighting simply because we have rarely encountered people who have had specific ideas about how they want to light our show (there have been exceptions to this, and I think specifically about the really great lighting person we had during our show in San Francisco in August). This time around we have mostly worked with people that had a plan of some kind, which includes the lighting technician at Blaa.

Lighting can go in two general directions depending on the intentions of the artist and lighting technician (these intentions overlap significantly, I’m just describing a difference of emphasis).

One approach is to use the lighting to create a space of fantasy within which to place the performers. In this case there may be different colours, flashing beams of light, lots of smoke, etc. all of which contribute to creating a visual space that a person would never encounter in daily life. The artist is then transformed into something otherworldly (whether this is accomplished explicitly or very subtly depends entirely on the style of the artist and the style of the lighting technician).

Another approach is to use the lighting as a means of focusing the audience’s attention. For example, a white spotlight does not create an otherworldly space. Instead it highlights certain parts of what is happening onstage. By using a focused beam of bright light, the technician fixes the audience’s attention on what is illuminated. Whatever is not illuminated becomes almost invisible. In this case the lighting is used to highlight what is essential about the visual element of the performers and to discard all else. This second approach to lighting is the one we identify with.

During the show I explained that sometimes a certain show feels like we as performers are in the act of ‘scaring’ the audience (we are the aggressors), and that other certain shows can feel like the audience is in the act of ‘scaring’ us as we perform (they are the aggressors). In the case of the show in Oslo it was the former – it felt as if we were doing something that shocked them. It is the difference between a comedian’s audience not laughing because they said something so strange that it cannot easily be laughed at, and the audience not laughing because the joke simply wasn’t funny.

Oct. 21st - Copenhagen - Jazzhouse

We left Berlin early in the morning and drove to a ferry that took us across the water to Denmark. The boat was massive and filled with vehicles. There was a ‘smoking room’. The deck was beautiful. It was the closest I’ve felt to being in the middle of the ocean in a long time. If I looked at certain angles I could convince myself that we were nowhere near land.

We arrived in Copenhagen. It was my first look at Scandinavia. As we drove through the countryside toward the city the landscape reminded me a lot of Canada but when we got into the city itself it was very distinct. The architecture feels both older and more contemporary. Probably the novelty contributed to a bias on my part but it felt more beautiful. 

The show was at a venue called Jazzhouse. When we soundchecked there were tables and chairs set up from some kind of literary event and we suggested that they be left up for the show. It made for an atmosphere very different from what we usually experience. People were seated by candlelight. It was a seating style appropriate to the ways in which audiences have typically reacted to our music in Europe.

At the end of the show I was standing in a circle talking to three people. One was from Spain, one was from Sweden, one was from Australia, and of course I am from Canada. It seemed like a highly European moment to me. Never before have I experienced as much of what is called ‘cosmopolitan’ as on this tour through Europe.

tonjethilesen:

On tour with Majical Cloudz. Devon Welsh in Niagara Falls, Canada.

tonjethilesen:

On tour with Majical Cloudz. Devon Welsh in Niagara Falls, Canada.

(Source: )

tonjethilesen:

On tour with Majical Cloudz. Devon Welsh in Buffalo, NY, before the show.

tonjethilesen:

On tour with Majical Cloudz. Devon Welsh in Buffalo, NY, before the show.

(Source: )

Oct. 18th - Berlin - Berghain Kantine

At an apartment in Berlin drinking Club Mate and hanging out with Matt, David, Alex, Tonje, Liz Pelly, Ingrid, and other people who I know less well. 

We finished the Berlin show an hour or so prior. 

The show was the best so far of the tour in the sense of attendance, audience engagement, as well as he luxury of playing for many friends in a foreign city.

A guy at the venue after the show spoke to me briefly about the music and the band. He had a shaved head and big glasses; he seemed serious. He measured his words carefully as he spoke. He said he thought we were doing something very special and warned me specifically not to ‘sell away’ our creativity. He compared us to MGMT and lamented the fact that they had ‘corrupted’ their music by commercializing it. I told him that we would be uninterested in following the musical path of MGMT if that were even possible.

While we were gone dropping things off at our Air B&B the collective plan changed from going to Berghain to hanging out at someone’s apartment down the street so we walked to the address and ran into Alex at the very same time. Seconds later Tonje and the rest of the group appeared and we went inside.

*Over the course of the weekend we spent in Berlin I made pages and pages of notes, but most of what comes after we got to the apartment is [redacted], not because we were doing anything illicit or immoral (which at times some of us were), but because the majority of my notes consist of summaries of the private conversations that I had with my friends, the likes of which are not meant for a show diary like this. Other than summaries of private conversations, my notes from Berlin are summaries of my own activities and changing impressions. Many of these notes are too embarrassing/revealing even for this diary, so again they are [redacted], and thus this is the end of the Berlin tour diary.