You can ask a punk anything. Sach Talens answers candid questions in this unprecedented musician Q&A.
The Bathurst Moment is out in the market. It is an amazing experience being able to know the process behind it. It was late last year when this’ so what’s happening now’ kind of exchange started. Sacha Talens was polishing the album and updating me with information which you already read in my posts. But this interview is different.Totally different from others I did.
If there is another quality to describe Sacha Talens, then it is being open to surprises. I wanted to test that with my unprecedented Q&A which might be a lil too much. But a blogger has to push the envelope further. After all, meeting a punk musician isn’t a common thing in my book. So check out these questions and have fun reading them.
So. The Bathurst Moment is Finally Out. How does it feel?
I’m glad you ask that, even though it’s a difficult question. I’m a bit conflicted about this release.
Mostly, I’m glad it’s out there. I worked hard on it, I’ve been lucky enough to have total artistic control over it, to the point that I re-wrote it in its entirety at least twice, and, all in all, everybody followed. I’m proud of this record, the songs are solid and the narrative makes sense. I’m also extremely happy that everybody in my team accepted to include the song Satellite Butter, which is an oddity to some, but probably one of my favorites.
But, I’m also sick of it hahaha! Mind that I’ve been present during the entire process, including mixing, artwork, promo, everything. I can’t play this record anymore unless I have a very good reason. I can’t wait to do the next thing, play it live, record new music, etc..
The Bathurst Moment is the first instalment of a series of 3 albums that will all have the same narrative and style, so i can’t wait to move on to the second one, I have thousands of ideas.
So to answer your question, I’m excited and scared… (Scaxited?)
You are playing live to promote the album. How’s the first few weeks going?
Tough man… Every week or so we have a new guy in the band. This has a result that we had shows lined up, and very little time to get everybody up to speed.
The business of live music is confusing and uncertain by nature, so, nothing new really. I don’t want this to sound negative though! It’s being great, but I’d be lying if i said that it’s all smooth. But our manager Nova is doing a great job organising everything.
I played some acoustic shows and I’ve had pretty positive reactions, so, really, that’s all that counts. People are happy.
Will you be releasing In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning as a b side or is this just a random thing?
Good question! As I said before, I’m planning on releasing an album every year, but I’d also want to release an EP every year too, just 4 or 5 songs that got cut out of the albums or covers or interesting projects in general (songs in other languages, or stylistically very different..) or even collaborations with other artists.
Yesterday I was trying to convince a friend to sing “In the wee..” with me and record it. This friend said NO but I’m gonna insist a little more 😉
I guess you can expect this for next summer, if I’m able to pull it off.
Itunes is selling your album. Question: What’s the good thing of having an album in itunes?
Honestly, it’s good and bad. It would be hypocritical of me to trash them because I have some of my own products on there.
Socio-economics aside (and I could talk about this for hours, especially the fact that they are destroying the concept of the album), I’d say that I don’t like that they get to chose your price for you. The Bathurst Moment costs 9.99$ on iTunes. Honestly I don’t agree with that. I’d like to sell it for 5.99$, and short songs like the two “Balcony Girl” songs are 0.99$ which I think is a bit too much for one minute songs.
The good thing obviously is that iTunes is ubiquitous, and theoretically, anybody can access and buy my music, if they have an Apple account, a valid credit card and a cellphone. Digital distribution of music is a great thing, I don’t mind if CDs go extinct.
Tell me about your new band helping you out with the live shows.
Well, they are brave fellows! Don Rathwell plays keyboards with me and he’s the sweetest, kindest man I’ve ever worked with. Then we had some drummers, until we found Graham Mackey, a guy from Dublin that can really hit like a motherfucker. The bass player is the biggest “??” right now, we have some guys filling in, but not a permanent member yet.
They all help, obviously, but we haven’t reached the “exploration phase” yet. They play what they have to play and try to materialise my crazy ideas. I really like these guys, I hope we’ll get to do more creative things in the future.
You are living it up in twitter and instagram these days. What’s there to stay in facebook or is it still important to have a facebook presence?
It’s going to be hard to answer this without cursing. I don’t like Facebook. I don’t have much friends in real life, and the friends i have are musicians, so I kind of know what they’re eating anyway. So Facebook has little interest.
I don’t really understand the interest people can have in something that is so boring, and I don’t understand Facebook’s choices (you can’t befriend people you don’t actually know and at the same time no info is private…?).
But, what I said about iTunes also applies to this. If something is popular and ubiquitous, you either join it or you don’t exist. One of the first conversations I had with my label revolved around the fact that I “needed a Facebook presence urgently”. I understand. I try to take care of it when I have 5 minutes. But mostly I try to sync it with other apps so I don’t have to actually log in and see cute cats and pictures of hockey players.
What insight can you give to anyone who is working on a full length album like you? What are the things to keep in mind and what are the things one should avoid?
This question is way too big. I’m gonna try and make a short list:
-Every song in it must be a potential hit. Nobody cares about your 7 minute epic with 5 solos anymore. Give it up.
-Don’t use copy/paste or auto tune. It makes music automatically sterile and tasteless. Sing that line again until you get it right. Play that same 4 chords from beginning to end.
-Never mix on digital software. If you have budget, spend it on mixing on a Neve or something.
-This is my personal taste but: NOBODY cares about your relationships. If you can’t find an interesting twist for a “I need your love tonight” song, just don’t write it. Please.
-Don’t put your face in the artwork, especially the cover. You’ll thank me in 10 years.
-Did I mention don’t copy paste?
-In general, question every single choice you or your partners make.
Obviously we are all learning, and we will always be learning (if we’re lucky) so I’m just saying this from the perspective of failures I have witnessed, including my own. If you’re making music and recording an album, I wish you good luck. It’s a very risky, yet nobel enterprise to partake in nowadays.
The fun deal:
How do you describe yourself as a person apart from being a musician?
I’m virtually a ghost. I live a very ghostly life.
My favourite colour is green, and my hair is blue. I’m sure Freud would have something to say about that.
Ha! This is gonna be a LONG one. Mostly because I wanted to write a blog about it, but this seems like it could reach more people than my blog. Like, more than my dad.
I love the James Gunn movies, Especially “Super” and “Slither”, it’s an amazingly bizarre movie and Kevin Bacon is on it and it didn’t make me want to shoot myself, so that’s saying something.
“Django Unchained”, despite all the bullshit that has been said about it, it’s a fucking awesome movie. Samuel L. Jackson saying “muthafucka” in the late 19th century is just priceless.
“Bad Biology” is probably the weirdest movie (that makes sense) I’ve ever see (so David Lynch doesn’t count). Not for everybody, but if you think you could enjoy a talking/living penis in a pseudo horror movie, definitely, watch this.
In the comedy department, “Shaun of the dead” & “Hot fuzz” are the greatest most perfect comedies I can recall.
And recently, I watched “Waiting For Godot” (the movie). Vladimir is played by Barry McGovern (one of the greatest “Beckett actors”) and it’s amazing how he transformed the play into a movie without sacrificing the cinematographic codes and language. Obviously, McGovern carries most of the movie, his Vladimir feels so real that it’s almost hard to believe that he’s saying lines. Probably my favorite movie.
My favourite movie is Troll 2. Watch Troll 2. I have watched that movie a thousand times. Go watch Troll 2 right now.
This is also gonna be a long one, because in my opinion there are no good actors per se, just appropriate actors (just like musicians). To give you an example, I didn’t especially like Brando in “Apocalypse Now” (and If you watch the documentary Coppola’s wife filmed during the production of the movie, you’ll understand why). So I’m gonna give a list of actors, but in the context of the movie they’re great in:
Robert DeNiro as Vito Corleone in Godfather II (not a movie I especially enjoyed, but the way he mimicked Brando, and the quasi perfection of his Sicilian accent gives him first place)
I’m very interested in accents and language, and it always baffles me when a Swedish character speaks english in a movie (n’est-ce pas, David Fincher?). To give you the perfect example: Hugo, by Scorcese. They’re in France, everybody is french, but not only they speak english, but they have a British accents… Why? Makes no sense. Shoot your movie in french, with french actors, and add subtitles.
So, the fact that DeNiro worked hard on the accent and the character is a sign of a great actor, committed equally to the fiction he is supposed to embody, AND the logic that makes you forget it is fiction.
I also like Bjork in Dancer in The Dark, Kristen Dunst in Spiderman, and Christopher Walken in anything he’s in. Bill Murray is probably a perfect actor. But I didn’t see Ghostbusters… Oh and Bryan Cranston and the guy playing the lawyer in Breaking Bad are absolutely perfect. And Johnny Depp.
What musical instrument are you proud to own?
My electric guitar that I call “Jane”. It’s an original 1964 black and white Silvertone that I found in a vintage store in Montreal east (like… FAR east). It cost me almost nothing. I know it belonged to several very talented Montreal musicians (no name dropping.. sorry) and now it’s mine.
What’s interesting is that I was already working on “The Bathurst Moment” for quite a while when I purchased that guitar. It was mostly acoustics and depressing ballads up to that point, and the label and my team were starting to lose interest in the project. Then I bought this guitar and that same day I wrote and recorded “A La Derive”, and “Fish Tank Blues” the next day. So in a way, “Jane” saved my artistic life and I will never play another guitar until it’s into pieces (let’s hope this doesn’t happen).
Also, that’s the guitar Beck always plays, so that scores a lot of points in my book.
Favorite time of the day?
NIGHT NIGHT NIGHT!
I woke up at 2PM today.
What top 10 albums do you currently listen to?
Hmm I hope I’ll get to find 10… I don’t listen to a lot of music. It also depends on the research I’m doing for various projects, so don’t judge me 🙂 :
-Etudes pour Piano, by Aleksánd Scriabin
-drukQs, by Aphex Twin
-The Suburbs, by Arcade Fire
-Fantasea, by Azealia Banks
-Hundred Thousand Pieces, by Patrick Krief
-Young Machetes, by The Blood Brothers
-Greatest Hits, by Carlos Gardel
-Clues, by Clues
-CIVILWAR, by Dillinger Four
-Omega, by Enrique Morente
-Solo Piano II, by Chilly Gonzales
-The Specialty Sessions, by Little Richard
-Bad as Me, by Tom Waits (this is actually my second favourite record)
-Funeral Blues, by Mark Lanegan Band
-Self Entitled, by NOFX
-Freaked Out and Small, by The Presidents of The United States of America
-LP3, by Ratatat
-10.000 Shots, by The Real McKenzies
-Contra, by Vampire Weekend
-Reunion Tour, by The Weakerthans
OH AND DID I MENTIONED I CAN’T COUNT UP TO TEN
If you were to get stranded in an island what are the things you need to have with you.
10 what do you love about having facebook/google account.
To be completely honest I fucking hate it. I hate Facebook and Google and everything that has to do with those two companies. I started Facebook out of peer pressure when I moved to Paris, years ago, to stay in touch with people i didn’t really wanted to stay in touch with to begin with. Then I shut it down, but the motherfuckers won’t delete your account! then, obviously, I had to open it again when my career started becoming more “serious”, because Facebook, like it or not, is a ubiquitous thing. You’re either on it or you don’t exist as an artist nowadays. But I seriously don’t spend much time on it, and I even use my account very ironically. I don’t befriend FRIENDS. All my “friends” on Facebook are musicians from Toronto I don’t even know, so I get their updates and stuff.
And Google… i never log in. It’s seriously enraging, every time I want to like a video on youtube they make me log in and they immediately ask for my phone number so I thought to myself “fuck this shit”. Always trying to know where you are, what you do, with whom…
I like twitter tho. Because I can lie about anything. It’s glorious.
Are you currently in a relationship?
If I learnt anything from Zappa is to not answer that question. For the reasons stated above.
How do you deal with rabid admirers?
Very badly. I’m not famous, obviously, and I like it that way. But every once in a while there’s a very intense character that pops out of nowhere and starts asking questions, and wanting things, and all that. I don’t know how to deal with that, honestly.
You’ll never live up to the idea somebody has of you. And I’m very unprepared for those things, since I usually am the guy in the background, thinking while everybody talks. I’m very shy.
What do you love most about being in the music scene.
If it weren’t for the music scene, I wouldn’t have any human interaction. Not that I think that that is a good thing, or a bad thing, but it proves that art is bigger than me, than us, and I like that concept. Art took over when God died, and it makes people be in communion more efficiently than anything else, including religion. Which makes me think that when Lennon said “we’re bigger than Christ”, he wasn’t kidding, he was not being a smart ass. Ever since art was born, and especially those aspects of art that put people together in a room, religion became obsolete and poisonous. Lennon was absolutely right. In fact, any artist is bigger than Christ. Any person, for that matter.
So, to make a long story short, I love that the music scene partakes in the destruction of organised religion.
What part of your body are you very proud of?
I’m not proud of any part of my body, but I’m happy with my brain. Sometimes.
Complete this sentence; Upon waking up in the morning I______________
Make coffee, watch the news and check my emails. I also check the last tweet I read to see how many hours I slept…… yeah..
And bonus question: boxers or briefs.
Boxers! You don’t want the word “brief” attached to that area!