LOOK: Patrick Watson Explores The U.S. And His Own Backyard
By Gianna Hughes; Photo by Brigitte Henry on January 4, 2013
Perhaps unlike anything else, music has the ability to completely take hold of a person. Whether you are the one who’s playing guitar and writing lyrics, or merely a listener, music calls to you like a siren in the sea, allowing your emotions to ebb and flow with its chord progressions, dissonance and melodies.
For Montreal’s Patrick Watson, music literally transports him around the world. He follows it to wherever it leads (thanks to his tour schedule), often not knowing where he will wake up next. When I recently spoke to Watson, he had just woken up in Grand Rapids, Michigan—or so he presumed. This whimsical nature is partially what makes his music so unique. Watson’s nature is cyclical: his whimsy inspires his music, which influences his touring, which inspires his music and so on.
And apparently, this isn’t the first time Watson has walked off his tour bus and into an unfamiliar city. “I love walking off the bus and you’re in the middle of a city and you have no idea of where you are,” said Watson. “It’s like being put in the middle of the woods, in a way.”
In a way, the city is like a metaphorical jungle. When you’re thrown into it—in this case, by choice—you have to adapt to thrive and survive. Although Watson has certainly learned how to adapt to various environments—whether metropolitan cities or music venues—he hasn’t adapted his music to pop norms. He is constantly evolving and exploring his own psyche and creative whims. In the case of his newest album, Adventures In Your Own Backyard, Watson embraced his beloved falsetto and decided to record in his hometown of Montreal with some friends.
Not only is he embracing his own environment and exploring others, Watson asks his audience to adapt to new environments as well. For example, Watson performed in a church last time he passed through Los Angeles rather than a typical music venue. “One good thing about playing in new venues is that people are a bit more open to listening in a different way,” he said.
And it’s true. New environments ask you to listen and watch in a way that may seem foreign at first. But the more you give yourself over to it, the easier it becomes. Watson also embraces the care that goes into building such a room. “You can feel it when you play in a beautiful room,” he said. "You can feel the history. You can feel the hands that built the room. And you can hear their stories if you’re quiet and listen close enough."
But when it comes down to it, although an environment may be familiar, it can also hold a perspective that has yet to be explored. “After being away, we had that same curiosity about home,” said Watson. “We wanted to apply the same curiosity when traveling to our home.” He used this curiosity when creating Adventures In Your Own Backyard. “It’s not necessarily about the home itself, but about your approach to home.” And this is something we all should examine. It’s not necessarily negative to view your home through the eyes of a tourist. In fact, you might discover something new and grow closer to where you are from, and in turn, grow closer to who you are to become.
But in its essence, “home is made up of the people around you; it’s not about a place,” explained Watson. These people—whether family, friends or acquaintances—are what make you feel welcome and comfortable. They are ultimately what tie you to a place. They are what inspire you to keep going, to keep working and to keep exploring. For what good is an adventure in your own backyard without having someone to accompany you? F