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Posts Tagged ‘Brad Weber

Fractured Air 12: Pick A Wonder (A Mixtape by Pick A Piper & knoWonder)

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To listen on Mixcloud:


01. Kollektiv Turmstrasse – Tristesse
02. Ame – Den Ratta
03. Shawn Snell – Fast Mover
04. Kaan Duzarat – Piece For Bass (Trus’me Remix)
05. Kaiserdisco – Amalfino
06. Soundstream – Makin’ Love
07. Soundstream – Good Soul
08. Curtis Mayfield – Little Bit Of Love (FOC Edits)
09. Shelby Grey – Stateless
10. Nico Stojan – Damm It
11. Acid Pauli – iBang
12. Petter – Some Polyphony
13. Nebraska – This Is The Way
14. Letherette – No Point
15. Tale of Us – Discochord
16. Head High – It’s A Love Thing (Piano Invasion)
17. Jacques Greene – Ready
18. Gary Beck – Before The Crash
19. Mount Kimbie – You Took Your Time (Kyle Hall Remix)
20. Grown Folk – Halfway House
21. Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl
22. Dauwd – What’s There
23. Pick a Piper – Hour Hands (Carrot Green Remix)


“Pick a Wonder” is a special mix made by Toronto-based Pick A Piper’s Brad Weber with KnoWonder (Robin Johnston) as part of a live performance for the Archi-Textures weekly series. Each week has a different curator (who each put on one show a month for the weekly series). The curator that did our night was ‘Knotibel’ and “Bonding Agents” was the name of his night in January.

Brad Weber: selector, decks, effects, roland SPDS
Robin Johnston: kaos pads, effects, loops

Brad Weber — as well as being the leader of collaborative project Pick A Piper — is also the drummer for Caribou. April 2013 saw the release of Pick A Piper’s self-titled debut album on Mint Records, while City Slang issued ‘Pick A Piper’ for European audiences. As Weber told us, “Pick a Piper was originally formed to channel my impression of dance music using organic instrumentation…I’m really interested blurring the lines and leaving the sound source up to the interpretation of the listener.”


‘Pick A Piper’ is available now from Mint Records (North America), AbandonBuilding (USA/Japan) and City Slang (Europe).


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March 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Chosen One: Fresh Snow

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Interview with Fresh Snow.

“Psych/noise/kraut group with one of my best pals Andy Lloyd on bass. Their live shows are insane. Sometimes they play inside of a pod with projections on all sides, sometimes they have a four-piece horn/string section. I actually have no idea what to expect, ever, so I love them.”

—Brad Weber, Pick A Piper/Caribou

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


‘Space Is The Place’ – a Sun Ra album title from many moons ago – is a fitting description of Fresh Snow’s forthcoming debut album, ‘I’. The improvisations comprise of compelling soundscapes that have space, rhythm and dynamics for the pieces of music to escalate into fully expansive walls of sound. The results are staggering. Across five instrumental voyages, a plethora of ideas – encompassing an array of genres – are fully realized by the Toronto-based group. The large sonic canvas draws from noise, psych, krautrock and indie pop, seamlessly crossing boundaries and in turn, pushing the sonic envelope.

Fresh Snow consists of Bradley Davis on guitars, Andy Lloyd (Caribou, Born Ruffians) on bass, Jon Maki (Tropicalia) on drums, and Tim Condon (Mirrored Silver Sea) on laptop/keys. The Toronto-based band started with jams of largely improvised music, before work begun on arrangements of the songs. Stellar guest musicians joined the core four-piece, in the form of Laura C. Bates (Trent Severn, Boxcar Boys) on violin, Aurora Cowie (Triple Gangers) on trumpet and Karl Silveira (trombone) and John David Williams (clarinet). The mixing of the album consisted of a combination of predominately Pro Tools and analog gear. The result is ‘I’, a kaleidoscope of innovative sounds. The album was mastered by James Plotkin, notable for his work with Tim Hecker, OLD and Khanate.

Album Opener ‘Saturation Complete’ was also the band’s debut single, which was released last year. What is so impressive is that this twelve minute journey into the heart of krautrock is in fact a debut single. I feel the diverse musical backgrounds where each member comes from, is responsible for the eclectic nature of their sound. ‘Your Thirst For Magic Has Been Quenched By Death’ is a sprawling instrumental opus of strings, synths, guitars, keys and drums. The use of strings adds a gorgeous dynamic and feel to the guitar-led melody. A state of motion is forever inherent in the sonic creations, especially once the bassline comes to the foreground of the mix.

‘To A Sea’ is in a word, lush. The track is a departure from the noise explorations, and remains rooted in gorgeous 60’s pop. A lush pop gem is created, complete with Condon’s vocoder. The use of vocals adds new dimensions to ‘I”s expansive sound, where brighter textures and mood is arrived upon. At the heart of ‘I’is the joyous sound of blissed out jams – ‘Kick Out The Jams’ anyone? – where the creative energies of talented musicians unleash their artistic visions into the world outside.

For fans of Neu! and Can, you have just discovered your favourite new band in Fresh Snow. But to use reference points would do injustice to ‘I”s masterful achievements. Upon endless revisits to this remarkable debut, I feel Chicago’s Tortoise are a great parallel, in terms of dynamics and musicianship. Fresh Snow’s experimentation with sound similarly offers endless possibilities. The band who are renowned for their incendiary live performance – having recently performed Led Zeppelin’s ‘IV’ in its entirety – have distilled their myriad of influences to tape. ‘I’ is just the beginning.


Fresh Snow’s “I” LP will be available on August 13th on Reel Cod Records.



Interview with Tim Condon, Fresh Snow.

I just love Fresh Snow’s compelling sound. It is large and expansive, yet always, organic and personal. I would love to gain an insight into the formation of the band and the inception of Fresh Snow?

Thanks! Fresh Snow came about after Brad was offered a solo show. He drafted in Andy (Caribou, Born Ruffians) on bass, Jon (Tropicalia) on drums and myself (Mirrored Silver Sea) on laptop/ keys. We played an improvised show one night in July 2010. It was a really hot humid Toronto night, so our decision to call ourselves “Fresh Snow” (after a Neu! song) was wishful thinking, if nothing else. It was the first time I met Jon and Andy, just as we went onto stage. It was all improvised and people seemed to like it. The next stage was reconvening in February 2011 at a friend’s basement and we recorded improvised music, slowly working out what the hell we were doing. We walked away with a 7 hour Pro Tools session for Brad and I to work on. By November 2012, after almost two years of work, the album is finished. It is sent off for mastering by James Plotkin (Tim Hecker, Khanate,). By this point we had played many shows and had cohesive intentions to what we do. In hindsight, if we’d written, rehearsed, and then recorded the songs the inception of the band and the record would have been a much easier/ faster route. But I don’t believe the album could have turned out the same way if this had been the case – the benefit of spending almost two years on arrangements took us in a direction that would have been difficult to have come across in a rehearsal space, and allowed us the opportunity of trial and error with “I”.


Congratulations on the debut full-length album, ‘I’. A sonic marvel is created, where krautrock, ambient, psychedelic and pop are effortlessly fused together. Please tell me about ‘I’ and the recording/mixing of this set of songs? Upon listening to ‘I’, it is clear how the magical spark of creativity and flowing energy is captured wonderfully from start to finish.

The initial recording came about during the aforementioned basement recording session – 7 hours of sound to then be chipped away into just under an hour’s worth of music. Brad and I spent the next 9 months or so editing this into arrangements that we could work with. Some of the initial structure for the pieces was similar to what the four of us had played on the day. Much of it wasn’t though – we took snippets of performance (often as short as 3 seconds) and then edited/ treated/ manipulated and arranged them into new pieces. Once we had basic arrangements of pieces we re-recorded the majority of the album with the band, using these edited arrangements as templates. With the re-recording, we were able to re-introduce aspects of improvisation and non-linear performance, now that we had arrangements and pieces as a structure to work within.

Brad and I spent a further six months overdubbing guitars, keyboards and processing sound ourselves. We then brought in some exceptional guest musicians – Laura C. Bates (Trent Severn, Boxcar Boys) on violin, Aurora Cowie (Triple Gangers) on trumpet and Karl Silveira and John David Williams – trombone and clarinet respectively (from the Boxcar Boys as well). Laura played a huge role in the arrangement of the string sections, as did Aurora with the coda of “BMX Based Tactics”. This coda features 55 tracks of trumpet (primarily for the purpose of producing the drones that are heard throughout this section) and we were concerned that upon each request for another take from Aurora that we may have been looking at a manslaughter charge – with her face becoming redder and redder as the piece went on, losing all remaining breath…Through the writing process and mixing process we were keen to have a balance between arrangement/ structure and ambient sound as texture, which hopefully comes across throughout.I then mixed the album with a combination of digital gear (Pro Tools primarily) and outboard analog gear.


My personal favourite is ‘Your Thirst For Magic Has Been Quenched By Death’. A great title and an awesome interstellar journey. A sacred dimension is tapped into here, where guitars, violin, synthesizer and drums build slowly into a magical realm of achingly beautiful sound. Please discuss the construction of this song? Was the violin melody the pre-cursor to the song?

Thanks again! The pre-cursor to “Thirst…” initially came about by a loop of Jon’s drumming – a beat that was fragmented, heavy and pretty propulsive. I looped this, then Brad sequenced some analog synthesizers to form the arpeggio that runs throughout. He then accompanied this with the guitar line. I edited this into sections to create the intro (and added the introductory guitar), verse (where I added the strings and synths), “chorus” and outro. We then brought Laura in to further strengthen my string/ synth parts with her violin. Jon then overdubbed drums, and finally Andy added his bass. As bass is so central to our sound it was unusual to leave it to be introduced so late in the piece, but for this we were very much favouring space, rhythm and increasing dynamics to lead to the introduction of the bass. Hopefully when Andy’s bass finally enters it is significantly propulsive.


‘To A Sea’ is the gorgeous opening track to Part B of the record. A guitar rock rhythm has timeless shades of Velvet Underground and Neu! I love how the instrumentation of voice, glockenspiel and shaker adds new textures to the record’s sonic canvas. The brass section is utterly compelling amidst the soaring synths. Please tell me about the instrumentation used here, and the different sections inherent in ‘To A Sea’?

This song started with Brad’s guitar throughout. Brad has a background of guitar-based pop (amongst others) and at around the 6th hour of the initial recording session this song came about – I think we were all worn down by a lot of noise so we opted for something quieter! The body of the piece is pretty much as is from the initial session, however has been further augmented with pretty much whatever Brad and I could throw at/ make work with it. We wanted it to be as lush as possible, so we went with glockenspiel, analog string machine (Roland RS202), drum machines, trumpets and trombones (played again by Aurora and Karl), synths (Roland Jupiter) and finally my vocodered voice. The lyrics are naive and sentimental and only my wife knows the lyrics – I’d be too embarrassed for them to be intelligible, thus the vocoder!

The second section/ outro is totally Brad’s love of classic guitar pop coming through again! We liked the idea of something sparse, with lead guitar lines sounding like they were from a Easybeats/ Yardbirds album. The rest of the accompaniment is all rooted in 1960’s sounds, so doesn’t sound too innovative, but it is a nice change in the context of the album! It’s also nice to have at least one song on the album that we can play to our family members that does not come across as awful noise.


What are the defining records for you?

Personally those that influence my decisions with music making and mixing are in particular: The Black Heart Procession – 1, Mercury Rev – Deserter’s Songs, Labradford – Mi Media Naranja, Portishead – Third, The Necks – Drive By, Low – Songs For A Dead Pilot, Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver, Rosy Parlane – Iris.


‘Helix Pass’ is sublime. The gorgeous use of instrumentation is breathtaking – the brass and strings meld together so perfectly with the transcendent guitars and synths. How was this song put together?

Helix Pass came about by a 3 second loop of Jon’s drumming that we liked from the initial recording session. I then arranged this into 7 minutes of drums. Brad then wrote the main keyboard line throughout and I wrote the acoustic guitar chorus hook, Andy wrote his bass part which gave it the definition that it needed and then Jon overdubbed drums onto it. I then augmented this with layers of keyboards and granular synthesis. By this point it was shaping up pretty well so we brought Laura and Aurora (Laurora?) in to further define the sections with their respective violin and trumpet. Karl also played trombone on it. We had around 15 different endings to this piece at various points, but after playing it more and more live we moved towards the heavy “doom” piano, violin, guitar sustain ending, as performed live this normally feeds into “Thirst” and works really well. This ending worked well for the album version, so we re-recorded this and finally committed to it. This track, alongside cassette only track “French Horse Hall Of Fame”, was by far the most intensively worked piece on the album.


Do you plan to tour Europe? I hope so.

We hope to, and are certainly open to offers! I lived in London for almost three years and was fortunate to visit much of Europe, and would really love the opportunity for Fresh Snow to play in Europe. Berlin, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Paris and Stockholm in particular are cities I really love. I feel a great affinity for many European labels (Kompakt, Editions Mego, Bedroom Community, Touch & Mille Plateaux in particular) so would love to play on the same soil that has produced so many important records and artists.
I’d/ we’d love to play the UK as well. The music scene in London and Dublin was very inspirational, and I very much enjoyed being home from shows by 11.30pm! That’s much more manageable than finishing shows here in Toronto at 2am, as the -15C weather settles in.


What are you listening to most lately?

Since finishing the album and not being employed I’ve had a lot more time to listen to music! El-P & Killer Mike’s most recent albums, Radian – Juxtaposition, Ben Frost – By The Teeth (his music is probably what makes me most patriotic to be an Australian!), Hildur Guðnadóttir – Without Sinking, Motobeacon – Alt’s Garage (fantastic Toronto duo), Dusted – Total Dust (the new duo by Brian Borcherdt, my favourite artist from Toronto), Iderdown – A Semb (wow….), Fire! (with Jim O’Rourke) – Unreleased?, Unseen Machine – The Devil’s Hard Drive (wow x2…..) & Koen Holtkamp – Gravity/Bees. There has been so much exceptional work put out in the last few years – this is a really great time for music lovers.



Fresh Snow’s “I” LP will be available on August 13th. The tape version is available now which contains an extra track. A special Reel Cod Records release show for Fresh Snow-I will take place on August 8th at the Boat in Kensington Market, Toronto.


Whatever You Love You Are: Pick A Piper

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Brad Weber – drummer to Dan Snaith’s Caribou – has this year released one of the defining records of the year in the form of his self-titled LP by his collaborative project Pick A Piper. The debut album wonderfully covers a myriad of sounds and influences (dance, soul, jazz, pop, electronica, afrobeat) creating a vivid sonic palette while revealing music’s endless possibilities. The following are, in Brad Weber’s own words, “some songs that have been really inspiring me lately…”

Words: Brad Weber, Illustration: Craig Carry


Kelan Philip Cohran and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – “Cuernavaca”

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble don’t need much introduction, one of my favourite groups of the last 5 years easily. Well the 8 brothers took their infectiously funky skills and applied them to their dad’s (a Chicago jazz legend) compositions. This track has a bit of a eastern european vibe. Can’t get enough of it.


Chancha Via Circuito – “hipopotamo”

This Argentinian producer seems pretty well known to me, but then again I’m always surprised how few people actually seem to know his music. The genre is called “cumbia digital” but I don’t feel like that description does his music any justice compared to the rest of the new cumbia artists out there. Again, someone else’s write-up seems to explain it well: “dreamy, neo-primitive mix of chopped-up pan flutes, folk guitar, Coke-bottle percussion, and booming, electronically treated drums– an almost shamanistic sound that carries its own landscape: underbrush, riverbanks, campfires.” His arrangements are incredibly sparse for the most part, but you never feel like anything is missing. It feels like each element is very carefully crafted to it’s fullest extent. This isn’t necessarily my favourite track, it’s hard to choose. So I’d recommend listening to this entire EP (all on soundcloud) to get a better idea.


Floating Points – “wires”

Just heard this epic new Floating Points production featuring a huge ensemble of musicians. Wow!


Rocketnumbernine – “rotunda”

RNN are releasing their new record on May 21st on Smalltown Supersound. This track is a huge leap forward for the synth and drums brother duo, taking their sounds to places I never imagined!


Jonas Rathsman – “Tobago (Original Mix)”

Killer feel-good housey track that lifts me out of my seat every time I throw it on.


Mpese Mpese Band – Mpese Mpese Theme (Drumtalk Remix)

Their description works best! “London-based producer DrumTalk flips the Asiko rhythms of Ghana’s Mpese Mpese Band – bridging the gap between Hackney and Accra. The original track came out in Nigeria in 1986.”
From the incredible Sofrito label.


Xavier Leon – “entrenched”

Xavier is a dude from Montreal who writes pretty manic, left-field type tracks. They can be pretty dark but some have a lot of brightness to them as well. This one I feel like meets halfway in the middle.


Jeri-Jeri (with Mbene Diatta Seck) – “Xale”

Super hot Sengalese jam. Check out their track “Mbeuguel Dafa Nekh” as well!


The self-titled debut album by Pick A Piper is out now on Mint Records.

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April 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Step Right Up: Fresh Snow

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Fresh Snow are a four-piece based in Toronto, Ontario. Their debut single “Saturation Complete” is an amazing 12 minute journey into the heart of Krautrock, touching bases with Can, Kraftwerk, Spacemen 3 and Ennio Morricone along the way. A debut full length album should see the light of day this year which will propel this Canadian band to the big time with great things in-store for a bright future.

Words & Illustration: Craig Carry


In our recent interview with Pick A Piper/Caribou’s Brad Weber, we asked him to tell us his current favourite bands from the Toronto music scene. The three bands he recommended (as well as the DJ collective Invisible City DJs and the fifteen-piece folk ensemble The Lemon Bucket Orkestra) included this Toronto, Ontario four-piece Fresh Snow. The following is what Brad had to say about them:

“Psych/noise/kraut group with one of my best pals Andy Lloyd on bass. Their live shows are insane. Sometimes they play inside of a pod with projections on all sides, sometimes they have a 4-piece horn/string section. I actually have no idea what to expect, ever, so I love them.”

We were intrigued, to put it mildly. So, exploring further, we soon discovered their debut single entitled “Saturation Complete” (the 3″ CD is unfortunately sold out, but it is available as a download). What an incredible song it is! At 12 minutes in length it infuses the sounds of Can, Kraftwerk, Spacemen 3 and Ennio Morricone (no less) into a twelve-minute musical treasure. Fresh Snow themselves feature Bradley Davis (guitars), Andy Lloyd (bass), Jon Maki (drums) and Tim Condon. This is what Fresh Snow say about their sound: “…“We play small amounts of notes for long amounts of time!”

Prior to ‘Saturation Complete’ came a split 7” record with METZ, another mighty Toronto band. Interestingly, the Metz contribution was in fact their wonderful cover of “Pig” by Sparklehorse (the opener to 1998’s “Good Morning Spider”). The record was a limited edition release by the Sonic Boom Recording Company. Fresh Snow’s website features the review done at the time of the release, by

“…A thunderstorm of mind-fucking psych rock from Fresh Snow, embellished with trumpets, noise, and trumpet noise. After three minutes, the insanity gives way and we’re left to shrivel in the darkness as the hurricane recedes into the distance.”

As of December last year, the band announced that their debut album was being mastered by James Plotkin (OLD, Khanate). If “Saturation Complete” is anything to go by, expect Fresh Snow’s debut full-length to be an essential album providing for a very special occasion indeed.


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March 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

Chosen One: Pick A Piper

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Interview with Brad Weber, Pick A Piper.

“I’m really interested in blurring the lines and leaving the sound source up to the interpretation of the listener. I like that people have no idea which beats I played and which ones I programmed and if a sound is a flute or a moog patch.”

Brad Weber, Pick A Piper

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


Pick A Piper is a collaborative project by Caribou drummer Brad Weber. The Toronto band comprises of friends Clint Scrivener, Angus Fraser, Dan Roberts and others. Pick A Piper began as a side-project back in 2009 where songs were penned by Weber in between Caribou’s shape shifting tours-crossing continents and blurring boundaries of sound. Similar to Dan Snaith’s Caribou, Weber combines organic and synthetic elements forming a unique blend of organic dance music. A spectrum of sound is effortlessly created, where psych, dream pop, electronica, afrobeat, and dance are joyously fused together. Pick A Piper’s debut album represents an eclectic, vibrant sound collage, which serves as Weber’s own personal creative outlet as he soaks up the inspiration that surrounds him.

Pick A Piper combines dance music structures, poly rhythmic percussion, atmospheric sound design, loopy melodies and a focus on electronics and production technique to create a sound poised between the organic and the synthetic. My first taste of Pick A Piper came upon last year’s arrival of the infectious single ‘Lucid In Fjords’. The song is a swirling psych pop odyssey and features Ryan McPhun, of Ruby Suns fame, on lead vocals. This track is the opener to Pick A Piper’s debut self-titled record, and what a stunning opener it is. An irresistible dream pop feel flows throughout: the electric guitars echo Link Wray, the beats and samples is a distillation of an indispensable record collection, pop hooks that are utterly infectious and a bassline groove straight from Studio One. ‘Lucid In Fjords’ invites you to “dream out loud”. To coin a Beach Boys song, ‘Feel Flows’ as the sonic canvas envelopes you in.

Next up is current single, ‘All Her Colours’. Yet again, the organic and synthetic are fused together. A seamless array of intricate arrangements are masterfully crafted. The rise on this song is sunshine pop circa ‘Odyssey And Oracle’ by The Zombies, before beats and menacing synths return on the verse. In fact, the song reminds me of The Postal Service where Tamberello’s electronic wizardry combines with Gibbard’s uncanny pop sensibilities. ‘All Her Colours’ effectively blurs the lines and leaves the listener wondering, how and just what is that sound? ‘Cinders And Dust’ contains a slow, deep groove that floats in the air’s atmosphere. Glorious harmonies, electronic glitches, are interwoven between the track’s delicate pop structure. ‘Cinders And Dust’ is somewhere between Dan Snaith’s Caribou and Junior Boys.

‘Once Were Leaves’ is one of the album’s centerpieces. A hidden dimension is tapped into here with the ethereal vocals by Raphaelle Standell-Preston (Braids). This song is reworked here and it is the utterly transcendent vocals by Preston that stops you immediately in your tracks. A whirlwind of percussion, synths, brass and a myriad of other sounds, form the sound clouds for the Cocteau Twins-esque dreamy pop creation. A new path is ventured on with ‘South To Polynesia’ – a drum and bass tour de force infused indie-pop anthem. The song has got rhythm aplenty as a free-jazz world of Sun Ra is conjured up. Flutes and woodwind, percussion, beats, bass, harmonies and brass are just some of the elements present in the mix of genre bending sound. The best arrives four and a half minutes in, as the song evolves into a trance-dance opus where a ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ odyssey is created before your very ears.

‘Zenaida’ is an indietronic-pop gem. Think Lali Puna, Clue To Kalo or Broadcast. The production is immaculate. Album closer ‘Dinghy In A Quiet Cove’ is my new favourite and brings this stunning debut to a fitting close. The dreamy electronic loops and compelling beats transports you to new horizons. I am reminded of UK’s Bibio upon listening to this breathtaking space-age ballad. The intro is reminiscent of Schenider TM’s mythical Smiths rework, ‘Light 3000’. A ballad steeped in a cinematic atmosphere that immerses you in, deep and far. The opening lyrics beautifully encapsulates the warmth of nostalgia and charming innocence, bringing the album to a gorgeous close:

“As I walked home tonight
My foot slipped through the melting ice
I never knew it wasn’t summer
But I fell into a rivulet
It took me for a long ride
I said goodbye to Toronto”

Pick A Piper’s stunning self-titled debut is an album that reveals more and more upon every listen while endlessly revealing music’s limitless possibilities.

The self-titled debut album by Pick A Piper will be available 2 April 2013 on Mint Records.



Brad Weber Interview.

Congratulations first of all, on the incredible debut album from Pick A Piper. You must feel very proud. The sound you create is effortlessly placed somewhere between the synthetic and organic, with an array of found sound samples, synths, electronic percussion, reverb, and atmospheric soundscapes. Please discuss this blend of organic dance music Pick A Piper tap into so well.

Thanks so much! Pick a Piper was originally formed to channel my impression of dance music using organic instrumentation. We had loads of drums & percussion, acoustic guitar, glock, turkish saz, flutes and a ton of other sounds and samples to create something funky and dancey with. The structures and feel were very much alike with dance music, but the sounds weren’t. As I’ve continue to listen to a lot of contemporary electronic music and DJ mixes, our sound has slowly evolved into something more electronic while still maintaining a lot of the organic roots. I’m really interested blurring the lines and leaving the sound source up to the interpretation of the listener. I like that people have no idea which beats I played and which ones I programmed and if a sound is a flute or a moog patch.


As the drummer in Caribou’s live incarnation, you are immersed in one of the most compelling bands making music today. Please explain how this part of your life in working with Dan Snaith, feeds into your own musical entity of Pick A Piper, and how it developed from a side-project into a fully bloomed sonic venture?

Dan Snaith has certainly been my biggest musical influence of the last 6 years. He’s an encyclopedia for all the music that I’ve always wanted to hear but never known of its existence. These mind-blowing, game-changing records have forever changed the way I write, perform and work. All the same, it’s always been a natural extension of where I was already heading. Pick a Piper has been around since 2009, but it’s always been a project I worked on in off periods of Caribou touring. I wouldn’t even call it a side project as much as it’s my personal creative outlet to periodically pour ideas into that I’ve been pondering for an entire tour or whatever.


I would love to gain an insight please into the recording of the self titled debut, and what vision you had for the sound you wanted to create?

I wanted to blur the lines between organic and electronic and bring my current sense/excitement of electronic music production to create something that sat in the middle. A lot of the songs on this record started out as little loops that I created in the back of the tour van or on a cramped airplane. Then when I had time off, I’d come home and flesh these ideas out into complete songs. The overall process I would describe as “sampling my friends”. I recruited lots of pals whose musicianship I trust to come in and record various ideas/loops/bits along to tracks that I had already started. Often two or more people would record along to the same base tracks without hearing the other person’s ideas. I did this with both my main bandmates (Angus Fraser & Dan Roberts) as well as a bunch of other good pals. I choose what I liked and then cut up and manipulated what they had given me and made full tracks of it. In the end I had a few good folks re-record our vocal ideas with their voice, or in some cases (like “All Her Colours” for instance) give me entirely new vocal ideas (that ended up being amazing!) I believe a lot in collaboration – you’ll find a lot of that on this record while tricking the listener into thinking it’s the ideas of just one or two people.


My first introduction to Pick A Piper was last year’s single, ‘Lucid In Fjords’. I love the title! The song is a psych pop odyssey-electric guitars a la Link Wray, a hypnotic bassline, divine synths and a plethora of organic/synthetic sounds. Discuss the importance of this song please and talk me through please the construction of ‘Lucid In Fjords’.

This one had lots of different input and was a lot of fun to write. I started it with a bassline, beat & simple synth arpeggio and just couldn’t get it to work. The track was super boring with an uninspired structure, so I threw it away. It wasn’t until half a year later that I came back to it and completely re-structured the track (no idea why I bothered trying again) that everything came into place. Angus’ original vocal melody suddenly made so much more sense and the track went from a total clunker to one of my favourites. My flatmate Jared added some guitar and I recruited my good pal Ryan McPhun from The Ruby Suns to re-record Angus’ vocals with his voice. Ryan did just that, but also gave me another melody that was absolutely incredible, so I used both!


What are the defining records for you, firstly in terms of production, and secondly, in terms of songwriting?

For production, I love Can records, My Bloody Valentine: “Loveless”, newer stuff like Clams Casino, Chancha Via Circuito, Junior Boys.
Songwriting, Zombies: “Odyssey and Oracle”, Smashing Pumpkins: “Siamese Dream”, A.C. Newman “The Slow Wonder”, Beach Boys: “Pet Sounds”.
I dunno, I’m terrible at these types of questions. These are just a few that popped into my head.


Pick A Piper is a collaboration between you and your friends, Clint Scrivener, Angus Fraser and Dan Roberts. I would love to know how you guys met and the origin of Pick A Piper?

Pick a Piper was formed in 2009 after I did my first stint for a couple years with Caribou. I needed a new outlet to get my own ideas out of my system. I recruited two very dear childhood friends (Dan and Angus) and Clint (who I had met in college) and was amazed how the project came to life. I guess the best way to describe it is “collaboration with central guidance (sorry, that sounds like something from a board room meeting!). I’m basically guiding/producing/arranging the whole process myself, but I certainly couldn’t do it on my own. Angus, Dan and Clint brought a ton of incredible ideas to the table and were key to making my visions come to life! Our live shows used to be insane double or triple (sometimes quadriple!) drum jams with a bit of singing and other instrumentation thrown in (or at least that’s how I felt). The band went on hiatus for a year or two while I was touring “Swim” and we’ve come back as a 3-piece with a tighter sound and a better balance between drum freakouts and sparse bits with careful vocal nuances. We’re still solid pals with Clint, but he left to become a daddy and is focusing on family now.


Discuss the music scene in Toronto? What are your favourite bands at the moment?

Here are 3 of come off the top of my head. There’s so much more incredible music happening though.

Fresh Snow

Psych/noise/kraut group with one of my best pals Andy Lloyd on bass. Their live shows are insane. Sometimes they play inside of a pod with projections on all sides, sometimes they have a 4-piece horn/string section. I actually have no idea what to expect, ever, so I love them.

Invisible City DJs

Invisible City Sound System is a collective of DJs that explore the history of dance music from around the world. They seem to focus on disco, boogie, early house, techno, and obscure funk. I’ve never once recognized a track and I’ve loved every single one I’ve ever heard. They recently even went to Trinidad and hand picked a pile of records from some vault there and made an incredible mix with it.

Lemon Bucket Orchestra

I know a lot of bands are trying their hands at the gypsy/klezmer thing these days, but these guys just do it better than almost anyone. They are probably one of the hardest working bands I’ve ever seen and their shows generally spill out into the streets and parade around town. They even organized a flash mob that in one night took over 2 intersections, a subway car and the main hall of Union Station. They also entertained people on board an Air Canada flight to Romania when the flight was delayed on the runway. But it’s less about antics and more that they just put on a killer performance.


My favourite song on the album is ‘Once Were Leaves’. It has this irresistibly seductive slow-tempo groove. The female vocals are gorgeous. Again, with all of Pick A Piper songs, there is a kaleidoscope of sounds that form into one cohesive whole. There are so many beautiful moments on this song that are utterly transcendent-the female vocals (who is singing there?), the looping harmonies, the brass, drums/percussion, dreamy synths. Sublime! Please talk me through the creation of this song?

This one is by far the oldest of the bunch! Look online for a song called “Yellowknife” from our self-released EP in 2009 (green cover with tambourines). We still loved this song so much and decided it was worth completely re-envisioning it for the record. We went up to a snowy cottage in the middle of winter last year and fleshed out the new version in a single weekend. We made it much more spacious and atmospheric than the original, which was full of chugging acoustic guitars and overpowering horns. I fell in love with Raphaelle’s voice a couple years ago and had met her a few times at various shows. I thought she’d be perfect for the track and got in touch to see if she would be interested in singing on this track. I gave her the original vocal part and said “you can can sing this if you want, or whatever else you’d like”. She proceeded to take our original melody and flip it on it’s head, chopped and diced and completely re-imagined it to a place I never would have thought of. I got an ableton session back from her with probably over 100 little edits and splices and tons of interesting effects. Her part completely blew me away and was exactly where I was hoping the track would go, but didn’t know it! I love collaboration for that reason.


Your record collection must be vast and diverse. When listening to Pick A Piper, worlds of psychedelia, dance, pop, electronica, ambient, jazz, dub and more, penetrates the head-space. On this album, when writing a song, do the words form the song or could it be a single sound that triggers a song’s creation?

Usually it starts with a beat! That is what so often determines the overall feel of the song. It’s my first instrument and kinda always what I fall back on.


‘South To Polynesia’ is incredible. I love the vocals. A compelling free-jazz intro before layers of woodwind, drums, bass and harmonies enter the mix. The moment, perhaps four minutes in, when the song evolves into a beautiful frenzy of trance-dance is utterly transcendent. The brass enters shortly, and a vibe of ‘Dark Side Of the Moon’ is formed. Discuss please the sequencing and production to ‘South To Polynesia’?

South To Polynesia was originally two separate tracks. The first loop that starts the song and the chord progression at the end. Clint wrote the ending progression and gave me a big ableton session with a song that included it. I cut the rest out and tried so hard to find a song that his bit would fit into. It just wasn’t happening for the longest time though. It was that same snowy cottage weekend where we re-recorded Once Were Leaves that I finally married it to a new-ish loop of mine that would go on to start the track and become the backbone for most of the song. Dan filled in the gaps with loads of automated drones and my friend Colin Fisher eventually laid down a ridiculous sax part! I love having such talented friends!


Take me back please to the Caribou/Radiohead tour last year where you toured big stadiums across the world. Listening to Pick A Piper I hear the influence of live performance, as the songs have this fluid feel, the sonic layers in constant motion.

It was an incredible experience for sure. I think probably the most inspiring aspect of the whole tour was how real they were as people. Everyone, both band and crew, were really warm, down to earth and incredibly welcoming. It’s nice that musicians at that level can be such sincere and genuinely grounded people.
With Pick a Piper I hope to continue to spread this type warmth and compassion to all the people we meet along the way.
Musically our live show has always been really important to us. We have 3 drum setups of various sizes on stage as well as a slew of midi controllers and samplers to re-create our sonic world live. Dan and Angus are constantly triggering hits, loops and effecting and manipulating them on the fly. Same goes with their vocals. I’m really proud of our live show and have certainly been influenced by Caribou and Radiohead along the way!


Do you plan to tour Europe? I hope I can help bring Pick A Piper to Cork, Ireland–my hometown:)

I’d love to. We’ll see how it goes at home first! I’ve played Cork a couple times in the past and the crowds were manic. Such a fun city!


The self-titled debut album by Pick A Piper will be available 2 April 2013 on Mint Records.