Music

All Together Now with Rich Aucoin

Rich Aucoin, a Halifax based musician, not only builds most of his albums as alternative soundtracks to movies such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, but also goes all out with his tours, biking from city to city, raising money to cure cancer and bringing up to eighty musicians onstage at a time.

Interview by Drew Bateman Photos by Rich Aucoin

A lot of movies have been inspired by songs. It’s not too often though you hear of a song being inspired by a movie. Rich Aucoin, a Halifax based musician, not only builds most of his albums as alternative soundtracks to movies such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, but also goes all out with his tours, biking from city to city, raising money to cure cancer and bringing up to eighty musicians onstage at a time.

Citizen Brooklyn: So tell us a little bit about yourself.

Rich Aucoin. I’m musician from Halifax, Nova Scotia that enjoys writing my music to accompany films. 

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: On your first EP tour you biked all the way across Canada, raising money for Childhood Cancer Canada. What was that like?

It was a tough tour in that it was my first tour and I just went and did it, even though I hadn’t even finished booking or planning it. So I was always planning about a week or so ahead of myself while biking between eight to ten hours a day. I’ve always maintained that the biking was the easiest part. Booking thirty-five tour dates and asking people on Couch Surfers or mom and pop motels to give me shelter took way more energy. In many ways, the tour was my healthiest tour. I only performed a few times a week, and when I wasn’t performing I was outside exercising and eating healthy everyday. I also got to listen to a ton of music. 

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK:  During your second tour you would run marathons in between tour dates, raising even more money for charity funds in Canada. You seem pretty committed to charity—why?

The second tour was for The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. This time it was easier to do something like this, as the physical thing wasn’t also my transportation. I’d spend a week in each city recording with musicians. I always want to keep raising money for charity and doing tours of that nature. It feels good doing something that both entertains and creates awareness and a real definitive good for something more than art/entertainment ends.  

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK:  Another thing you seem passionate about is getting massive crowds to make music together. Your second album featured over 500 guest artists, and your last album technically featured about 30,000 of your fans in the chorus lines. What draws you to collaborate with so many people?

The energy of the many is greater than the energy created by one, obviously, and I just wanted to make really collaborative and energetic records, respectively. I always pick an aspect of something I’ve already done and decide to do the opposite for the next thing I do, and in the case of collaborating for the first time with 500 guest artists, one of those things was just the switch from making a solo record (“Personal Publication EP”) to a collaborative EP (“Publication Publication EP”), though the EP got too long and I eventually had to realize I was making a record, not an EP. With “Ephemeral”—What I’ve thought of as my first intended record, I wanted to make a record that was closer linked to the high-energy crowd-infused live show, as the live show only grew during the recordings of “We’re All Dying to Live”, so the record doesn’t quite capture the energy that those songs became in the live setting. Recording the audiences I performed for and with seemed like a logical recording technique to attempt as I brought mics out at the festival shows and recorded several large audiences to get that large crowd sound in the opening track, “Meaning In Life”.

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: While we’re on the subject, tell us a little about the making of “We’re all Dying to Live

The making of “We’re All Dying To Live” took four years—Like each record at this point! I recorded with as many musicians as I could from across Canada and made sure to record on both coasts, from Victoria, BC to St. John’s, NFLD, and as far up north as Dawson City, YK. It syncs up to a film, which I cut together from watching 100 films in the public domain. I ended up using forty of. The end result is meant to focus on themes of major life decisions and preparation for life after youth. The record had hobbyists to a member of Canada’s biggest band, and it was recorded in modest home studios to Abbey Road. 

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: The music video for “It” has got a pretty awesome cinematic vibe. Talk to us about it.

Originally the idea was to put me into the videos I cut up for “We’re All Dying To Live”, but director Noah Pink smartly suggested that we limit it to some of our favorite films. We made a big list, and both Pink and I being highly interested in film chose ten. Two are from the WADTL sync too: “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Night of The Living Dead”.

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: At the release party for “We’re All Dying to Live,” at the Halifax Pop Explosion Festival, there were apparently eighty musicians onstage. How did they all get up there?

We performed in a large church so we assembled the choir on either side of the pulpit starts. Other than that, we had me at the grand piano, a horn section, string section, percussion sections featuring three drum sets, a keyboard/synth section, guitar/bass guitar section and at anytime had more unique instruments like sitars come up front and center for their parts.  

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: How do your live shows differ from the studio albums?

I’ve always recorded without thought of how to do it live as, living in a world where performing with samplers is possible, it alleviates the pressures of decisions like to include or exclude sitar! I’m now more cognizant of how the song I’m recording could be done live as well, even though I usually drop certain elements from the records from the live show as some samples, like acoustic guitars, don’t work well in a live setting. 

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: Your first EP, “Personal Publication” was made as alternative soundtrack to “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and your latest album is an alternative soundtrack to the 1979 claymation, “The Little Prince”. The music in “We’re all dying to Live” also seems very movie inspired. What are some of your favorite movies? Favorite stories?

The film that inspired this style of music making was Dark Side of Oz (the combination of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon” with MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz”). Seeing that, I always wanted to write something that could, but not necessarily need to accompany visuals. There’s a real difference between syncs and actual film scores. My favorite films include: “Star Wars”, “Raiders of The Lost Ark”, “Jaws”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Alien”… I generally feel like the late 60’s to early 80’s was the best era of Hollywood film as it was the beginning of the film school generation. I enjoy films from all over the world too, but my first love is Hollywood adventure.

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: Your last album, “Ephemeral”, has got a pretty evocative name—what would you say the album is about?

It’s about the same themes as in “The Little Prince”; the shortness of our existence and the importance to think about what is important in our lives. The sooner the better, and to live according to those realizations.  

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

CBK: Can we have a hint at what crazy thing you’re going to do on your next tour?

I’m trying to bike across the United States, but still in the developmental stages of its planning. 

CBK: Any words for our readers out there?

Do it! Don’t worry, you’re already doing it! So congratulations, keep doing it! And donate to whichever charity you want and any small amount you can whenever you can!

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Photo © Rich Aucoin

Want to Believe by Rich Aucoin from jasoneisener on Vimeo.

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