What a name. As a child, I often would stare at the ambiguous clouds, let my imagination fill in what isn’t. Interpretation holds a huge significance in our lives, especially as of late the media has shown the different ways context can be misconstrued to alter our perceptions. Having your mind opened to an assortment of possibilities is what will let you draw your Excalibur from that boulder, diving head first into Scattered Clouds is just that.
NXNE 2019, the second time I’d be indulging my senses in the latest music available to dark venues with lager-soaked floors that this festival has to offer. I would tell you that these moments are special because of the type of person I am, that my mind is attuned to the careful selection of unique sounds that induce gaping mouths. Sounds that are so distinct and new that you literally can feel the chill in your bones.
But it’s not me, and it definitely can be you. All you have to do is open up, and let go.
If you’re lucky enough, you’ll run into artists Philippe Charbonneau and Jamie Kronick; the talented duo of Scattered Clouds. Scatter Clouds is an experimental group out of Hull, QC, describing themselves as post-apocalyptic romanticism, a nihilistic reaction to political upheaval. My guilty pleasure is discovering, the experience of diving down this rabbit hole and really getting a feel for what Scattered Clouds is to me, and to others, found me sifting through movie reference after movie reference (by the way, The Terminator is too mainstream to be a cult classic).
I had first heard SC at The Baby G, interestingly enough I ended up arriving at the club late, I took the wrong bus (figures). I debated if I should go or not, the band that I was originally planning to cover had already finished their set. Yet I went anyway, I could just have a beer and bask in the essence of the festival music scene. On stage came these two guys, no introduction, they just start playing. After a mesmerizing instrumental set with the addition of various electronic elements, I was waiting to talk to the band by the ticket booth when Jamie had made his way to the booth. I nervously introduced myself and was met with the most relaxed non-judgemental responses that quickly put me at ease.
I can’t say that I wasn’t curious into how such a band works, after some research into various music media publishers like Exclaim or KIll Beat Music, I had some questions that I felt were left out, which they had no problem exchanging a few emails back and forth.
AA – What brought you two together, and how long did it take for Scattered Clouds to form their style?
SC – Scattered Clouds started as a home studio project in 2012 along with the creation of our tape label in Hull called E-Tron. I put out a short 7min cassette EP of 4 songs I had worked on in my apartment with very limited low-budget gear. The interesting thing with this EP is that I bounced all my digital files wrong and when came time to mix, everything was slowed and pitched down. It sounded otherworldly and actually really cool so we decided to run with it. In a way, that was the start of the Scattered Clouds style: slow and low. When Jamie joined the project to perform that material live, we had to interpret those songs and I had to sing them as low as that EP. We eventually started writing songs as a band with our multi-instrumentalist friend Pierre-Luc Clément (FET.NAT) and released ‘The First Empire’, our first mini album.
AA – In your new video for the track “LA POLITIQUE, CONCOURS PSEUDO-ÉROTIQUE”, what was the message you were trying to send with the male wrestling?
SC – We wanted to use amateur wrestling as a metaphor to the political stage. In so many ways, wrestling is like politics. Male dominated and entertaining, we all know that the outcome of the fights is fixed yet we still derive pleasure from consuming it. It’s like everyone (the people, the media, the politicians, the bankers, private investors, the 1%) is in on the joke but no one is actually asking the real question: what are we laughing about?
AA – It’s no surprise that politics are indeed a huge impact on our everyday lives, have you felt this stranglehold that politics has affected the music scene from where SC is standing?
SC – Not from where we’re standing. We operate on a DIY model (do it yourself) so we don’t feel much stranglehold regardless of where politics are. The interesting thing with music and art is that the more politics threaten our practice the more we have something to say.
AA – In the lustrous industry such as music, how do you find the ability to break away from the toxin that is politics and delve back into your own creative expression?
SC – I don’t think you can separate the two. We don’t base our entire creative expression on politics, but they are definitively a part of it. Our new album TAKE AWAY YOUR SUMMER is a good example of that. Half of the songs on the album are political commentaries and the other half are introspective micro-experiences. We didn’t plan it like that but in a way. it’s a reflection of who we are and what the dynamic in the band has been like.
AA – Is it difficult being independent artists in Quebec?
SC – I think being an independent artist is difficult anywhere. In Québec, it can be easier if you’re in the right crew. Turns out we’re not haha. We’re based out of Hull which is really a nowhere city according to most of the province. In the 70s, the downtown core of Hull was basically destroyed by Trudeau Sr’s plan to build a bunch of federal buildings so Quebecers would vote NO in the referendum. Since then, our whole city has been populated by government employees and parking lots for their cars, underage kids crossing the bridge from Ottawa to QC to buy beers and party on the weekends You can imagine what that does to a local economy and small businesses, it pretty much keeps anyone from having a sustainable business that serves the people that live here. Luckily, we’ve been able to benefit from extremely low rent from this repressed city, which in turn gives us the opportunity to focus on our art and not worry about paying through the roof to live in a “cool” city.
Well, looking at music videos such as “Don’t Question Me”, and the new “LA POLITIQUE, CONCOURS PSEUDO-ÉROTIQUE”, it’s hard to imagine that this band is on the wrong team. Debuting their new album June 27th, “Take Your Summer Away” was co-produced by Micheal John Dubue (HILOTRONS) and Grammy-nominated engineer Phillip Shaw Bova, as well as contributing musically to tracks alongside Lisa Iwanycki Moore and Pascal Delaquis.
Scattered Clouds fills their music with hidden artistic gems and interpretive “Easter Eggs” that can literally take your summer away.
Check them out on their “Take Away Your Summer” tour,
July 6 – Québec, QC – Festival OFF
July 12 – Kingston, ON – 12Cat
July 13 – Toronto, ON – Baby G w/ Badge Époque
July 19 – Montréal, QC – l’Escogriffe w/ Orchids
July 20 – Hull, QC – Minotaure w/ Orchidae
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Take Away Your Summer is available today; click here for all streaming and purchasing platforms.