Photograph by Peter Juhl
On his new album, In Conflict, Canadian composer, violinist, and Polaris Music Prize winner Owen Pallett offers a collection of songs “meant to approach ‘insanity’ in a positive way,” he says. “Depression, addiction, gender trouble, and the creative state are presented as positive, lovable, empathetic ways of being.” Here, what fueled Pallett while making the record.
Galina Ustvolskaya: “She’s this Russian weirdo composer I love. I get into trouble when I cite her because people think her music is ugly, but I don’t think they understand her. She portrayed conviction through almost brutal repetition, which lots of musicians adopted later.”
It Gets Better: “I reacted negatively to it and wanted this record to be my testimonial about the subject. I didn’t want to tell kids life gets better once they make money and move to a city. Sometimes you can grapple with these things forever — and that’s OK.”
Throbbing Gristle & Genesis P-Orridge: “In Conflict’s first song, ‘I Am Not Afraid,’ and the whole ‘calling for discipline’ thing is a Gristle reference. My playing around with gender pronouns and sanity vs. insanity is also a Genesis thing.”
Eurythmics's Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This): “It’s one of the first records I got into — like, when I was 5 years old. Its fundamental moods were a big influence on me. ‘Love Is a Stranger’ is basically the best song I’ve ever heard. I tried to mix my vocals in the same way as Annie Lennox.”
Portishead's Geoff Barrow: “I love his side projects, Beak and Anika, and the stuff he puts out on Invada Records. I love the old synths he uses and the way he records things. He has a young punk vibe about him.”
Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes: “It has informed so many diff erent parts of my life over the years. Her songs aren’t outward attacks on people but ways in which she challenges herself. Tori’s the spiritual godmother of In Conflict. I even dyed my hair red this year in tribute to her.”