One conclusion can be drawn from this weekend’s performance art festival Les Escales Improbables: a warehouse does not make an ideal venue.
The night, made up of various acts mixing improvised dance, performance pieces, and music, was plagued by technical issues.
In terms of musical acts, the sound echoed in the large empty hanger at the edge of the old port.
The festivals headliners, The National Parcs, were left hanging at the start of their set because of dead monitors. Even after a member of the technical staff checked the stage set up, problems persisted.
The turn out was also less then ideal. A small group of 100 people were scattered around the warehouse, the majority of them falling into an older age range.
Still, The National Parcs turned in an impressive performance given the number of handicaps.
Stings of light flashed along with the catchy beats being played on stage. The accompanying videos made it difficult to look away.
Given the right set up, The National Parcs could be an unforgettable experience. Les Escales Improbables failed to provide.
With shotgun boom microphone and video camera in hand, The National Parcs wandered into the wilderness of northern Quebec with a concept in mind, an audio visual project centred around nature. Born from the countless samples of banging logs, dropped stones, gushing water, and an all terrain vehicle motor, Timbervision has a one of a kind character.
Paired with each track is an accompanying video. The highly stylized videos feature picturesque forests, samples in the process of being recorded, or playful stop motion animation that match the beat of the song.
While performing live, the National Parcs mix both songs and the recorded videos. The result is a unique blend of lighting, enjoyable cinema, and danceable music.
Ian Cameron, visual director and member of the National Parcs talks about the process of making music out of nature and the future of the Parcs.
Q: It’s been two years since the release of Timbervision, how have different audiences reacted to your performances?
A: We played M for Montreal last year and there were a group of British journalists watching. They all wrote the same thing, “what is this shit?” I think they had trouble classifying us and were just frustrated that they couldn’t fit us into a genre.
Q: The National Parcs have a strong relationship between visuals and music, why?
A: We really wanted to make the visuals an integral part of the creative process. I was frustrated as a VJ and video director. I felt restricted by having the music given to me; the visuals were always an afterthought.
Q: Could you describe the process behind Timbervision?
A: It took us two years to put together Timbervision. For the first summer we shot samples out in the forest. We began to build beats with our samples and by winter we would be editing. The next summer we went back out to record some of the instruments and all of the vocals. Then another winter of editing.
Q: When you head out to gather samples would they be pre-planned and thought out or were they improvised on the spot?
A: It’s a bit of both, but our process is not set in stone. The idea behind Timbervision was an album set in an environment. We were up at five or six in the morning every day, out in the forest recording samples. In nature you have to deal with weather conditions, which can lead to problems. I remember we waited four days to get a particular sample.
Q: How do you feel about being known as the “nature” band?
A: It’s interesting to see people give us that tag. We chose nature as the environment for Timbervision, but not all our albums will be done in the forest. We’ve got other ideas.
Q: Would you say that the National Parcs are headed in a new direction, maybe away from the nature tag?
A: I think we’re at an interesting point in our careers. We’re in between the art world, the music world, and cinema. I don’t think we’re sure at this point. We like making things difficult for ourselves [laughs]. In terms of the next piece we’re looking for something feature length but we have a few ideas to work out.