Confetti-slinging indie good dude Rich Aucoin is like if someone wished improv’s great rule “Yes, and…” to life: the idea that no matter the situation you’re in, you accept it and build something bigger. Stronger. Fun-er.
Rich Aucoin’s playing your city? Yes, and he brought that rainbow parachute from kindergarten to the club—or your friends’ wedding. Rich Aucoin’s laptop got stolen with most of his future album material? Yes, and he dreamt it all up again to produce his most varied work yet. Rich Aucoin’s putting out a new song? Yes, and he gave out his phone number en masse so you can text him for new music. The one-man indietronica show from Halifax has a new EP out March 16, Hold, that promises to somehow bottle the karaoke energy of his live shows (seriously, he teaches you his choruses) into four songs. While his first single "Release" was an anthemic electronic build, Aucoin’s latest song “The Middle” showcases his trademark glowing, meditative, keyboard-loving side from his 2011 debut album We’re All Dying to Live.
With a colourful illustrated video by Meags Fitzgerald combining stop-motion animation and speed-drawing versions of Aucoin, “The Middle” is an extremely earnest, charming-as-hell reflection on the self at the midpoint of life and death. Hey, it’s 2018, right? Have a real big art attack and watch Aucoin’s music video for “The Middle” below. Also read our interview on his upcoming EP, Bob Ross, and more below.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Noisey: "The Middle" video is so fun— it’s like the arts and crafts cousin of Peter Gabriel’s "Sledgehammer." What’s the story behind it?
Rich Aucoin: An artist friend of mine, Meags Fitzgerald, has been making these amazing Ambidraw videos where she draws with both hands as she does in this video, and I have just loved watching them and asked her if she'd be interested in making a video for me in that style. I highly recommend checking out her amazing work.
Your music videos are always very animated, literally and figuratively, and cinematic. What are your all-time favourites from other artists?
My fav videos [ in order of importance] are “Runaway” by Kanye West, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim, “Around the World” from Daft Punk, “All is Full of Love” by Björk.
Even your upcoming EP’s tracklist is cinematic: “The Fear,” “The Dream,” “The Middle,” and the end, “Release.” Is there a common thread through it all?
Yeah this EP, like my previous EP Public Publication before We're All Dying to Live, is a lead-in to the upcoming record which will be coming out by fall. I don't want to spoil the overall concept of the upcoming record yet but it was all written to sync up to a classic film in the same way Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon does with The Wizard of Oz. All of these songs deal with ideas of letting go. Whether it be of fear, or reality, mortality anxiety, or whatever it is that you might hold onto. Musically, they also all are based around vocal samples which are pitched to behave like synthesizers.
At one point, we see cartoon you open up to reveal an older man, and you seem at peace with the idea of death in the bridge: “this is now and over and over again.” What’s your attitude on growing up and growing older now?
I feel like death just becomes more predominant in our minds the older we get. Rather than this song being a foreboding anticipation of death, it's more of that moment when we realize we're halfway through our lives and reflecting on what's happened and what's to come. I picture this song being the peak of the hill of life, you're not over it yet but able to look clearly backward and to a projected forward view of what's to come, albeit subject to change. I've always lived with a desire to be in the moment and so this song is my attempt to capture that reflection of our mortality and our limited time with one another.
“The Middle” is such a tender piano-accented 180 from what we’ve heard on “Release,” a building electronic instrumental (which bangs, by the way). How would you describe the sound of Hold ?
Thanks! Yes, starting with a seven-minute building instrumental after three years without music might have made some people think everything had changed, but this track and the other two to come have vocals. For “The Middle,” it was more of a straight-forward song that's built around vocal samples again as well as pitched vocals of this fantastic singer Babette Hayward from the sweet band Vogue Dots. The song also features a really nice driving bass played by Matt McQuaid from Holy Fuck, an amazing cathedral church organ played by Peter Togni, a sweet sax and bassoon reed section, a bunch of classic synths, three pianos and some real nice kit and guitar from Taylor Knox. Some bands floating around my head during the making of this track were Future Islands, M83, Sufjan Stevens and revisiting lots of kraut-rock. I might leave the next two tracks as a surprise but both are in different directions from these first two but involve more vocal manipulation and a host of similar instrumentation.
It’s fitting that your arts and crafts self in the video has an extremely Bob Ross fro. Were you ever into any of those creative shows like "The Joy of Painting" or "Art Attack"?
Oh Man. “The Joy of Painting” is so relaxing. Maybe the fact I had a Bob Ross fro during the making of this record was a subconscious way to keep myself in his level of calm amidst all the recording sessions with over 60 musicians over 2017.
Now, given the song name, I am obligated to ask this. Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” : great or greatest jam?
[ Laughs]… To be honest, I had to look up the song and didn't recognize it until the chorus came in. Undoubtedly a catchy hook… That pause on the downbeat and extra emphasis afterward is a great move. I like the sentiment about not being stressed out about one's place in the world and about whether one fits in with what others expect of them.
Jill Krajewski knows everything, everything will be just fine. Everything, everything will be alright. Follow her on Twitter .