The breakthrough performer of the 2007 Calgary Folk Music Festival was likely Final Fantasy, better known to his friends as Owen Pallett. Armed with his violin and looping pedals, Pallett performed to large crowds three times over three days. In between, the 2006 Polaris Prize winner found the time to sit down with the Gauntlet and share his thoughts on the festival and music in general.
Gauntlet: Who have you seen so far and who are you looking forward to seeing?
Final Fantasy: I've only seen Jon-Rae and the River so far.
G: But you liked them?
FF: Yep. Hmmm, who am I looking forward to seeing? Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. I like that band. And the Cape May. They're a pretty good band. Actually, I love them.
G: What is your approach to the workshops?
FF: Well, I don't like songwriter circley sort of stuff, but it kind of ends up being like that, so that's cool. The best workshop that I ever played in was just talking to the audience, asking them what they wanted to hear not song-wise, but sound-wise. And they told us to play "Bicycle Built for Two," so we did this really slow version of it that was really, really pretty. And then we did "Happy Birthday" and everyone played it in a different key.
G: That must have been dissonant to say the least.
FF: It was pretty wicked.
G: How does this festival compare to other festivals you've played at or been to?
FF: It's nice. It's in a nice location of the city, which is cool. It's very clean, too. It's by far the cleanest festival I've been to. Even the washrooms are clean. I'd have one in my house.
G: You mean the porta-potties?
FF: Yeah, they're very clean. People are really good-looking, too, which is really the only way you can judge a festival. When you think about music journalism, let's say, what do people do when they come back from a festival? [They say,] "Yeah, we saw this and we saw that and this thing." Nobody ever talks about the music or anything. It's all about the photos of people. So, if a festival is filled with hotties, then you know it's going to get a good review.
G: You've done a lot of collaborations that seem kind of unconventional. You did some work with Cadence Weapon and there is also your work with the Vinyl Cafe. How do you think those experiences have helped or improved you as a musician?
FF: I just kind of do it for fun. This is kind of private, maybe, but I saw Arcade Fire recently. I haven't played with them in at least a year and a half now and I saw them in Ireland and I started crying. It's so nice to just be around friends and just play music. And this [Folk Fest] is cool; it's just my boyfriend and me. But sometimes you just miss being able to work with other musical forces.
G: You're often known for being very self-critical and then you won the Polaris Prize. Has that changed the perception people have of you being that way or your feelings towards yourself as an artist?
FF: Well, the album won the award, not me.
G: Though, you created the album.
FF: Yeah, I guess. I think it's just that I don't like a lot of music and that includes my own. I mean, I do like a lot of music, but at the same time, I'm kind of like, "Is this worth flying around the world for?"
G: You said in an interview that you had this idea to release some of your songs on sheet music only and then the listener has to, "perform the album for themselves." By leaving your music up that much interpretation from others, what do you think this adds, or possibly, takes away from, the pieces themselves and how you intended them to be?
FF: Bands just make records. You know what I mean? Boring! It's so much cooler when bands do projects. Bands like the Boredoms can throw a 75-drummer extravaganza, you know? But, I just thought sheet music would be a nice a way [to release music] because, come on, everyone plays. Everyone plays music. I derive most of my musical pleasure from playing piano at home with sheet music. So, I figured it would be kind of like that.