The word ‘polymath’ is over-applied in musical terms, yet it’s a fitting description for Canadian multi-instrumentalist, producer, animator and graphic artist Chad VanGaalen.
For his sixth album, Light Information, released 8/09/17 via Sub Pop, VanGaalen played every instrument, was the sole vocalist – save for a brief cameo from daughters Ezzy and Pip – produced the record and conceived and created the artwork.
A collision of 60s-referencing, hazy guitar pop with dreamy, delay-washed vocals and future-gazing electronic instrumentation via his beloved Korg 770 monosynth, VanGaalen initially intended Light Information to be more collaborative.
“I play everything myself when I have time, but I do have a band I’ve been playing with for the past three years and I really tried to do a full album,” he says. “But, in the end, only one song with them ended up on the record! I’m definitely a control freak. It’s important for me.”
“I’m obsessed more with visual art than I am music, so really, the music is an excuse for me to have my way with the visual side of stuff…” – Chad VanGaalen
While VanGaalen writes about alienation, the advancing incursion of technology into everyday life and science-fiction futurism, Light Information has a warm, organic quality. “Being a parent has given me a sort of alternate perspective, worrying about exposure to a new type of consciousness that’s happening through the internet,” he says. “It’s also just ridiculously funny to think about. It’s one of those things when everyone imagined it would be the future, and really, we’re all just texting each other grocery lists.
“I try to escape things being too personal, but there are a couple of songs that relate directly to my life. As I get older, I tend to stray away from things that are super-direct and get into more abstract, metaphorical science-fictiony stuff.” – Chad VanGaalen
VanGaalen describes his relationship with Sub Pop as one of “Total creative freedom”, adding that: “They have been amazing. When I come to them with a record, they give me their honest opinion. He’s touring his music in the UK and Europe this autumn. “I haven’t been on a big tour like that in a couple of years, so I’m excited and I’m also scared. It’s a tonne of time to be away from my kids, but I haven’t done a big tour like that with this band, so I’m really excited to play music with them.”