Confetti pop

Rich Aucoin’s dance electro shows feature confetti guns and musical guests

Rich Aucoin says he tries to “sleep in as long as possible to be ready for staying up until 3 or 4 a.m.” in preparation for a show.
Rich Aucoin says he tries to “sleep in as long as possible to be ready for staying up until 3 or 4 a.m.” in preparation for a show.

Rich Aucoin wants to make you sweat.

Fresh from the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Texas, the Halifax native is gearing up for an appearance at the Grad Club tonight. The last time Aucoin brought his explosive live set to Kingston in August, Wolfe Island Music Festival attendees left euphoric — he’s one of the few indie-electro artists who can add confetti gun prep to his list of pre-gig rituals.

“[It was] amazing. Wolfe Island was one of my favourite festival experiences,” Aucoin told the Journal via email.

Since his 2007 debut EP Public Publication, Aucoin’s project has been growing exponentially. He has garnered attention by bicycling and running from show to show to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society.

In the same vein Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon acts as an alternative soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz, Public Publication was composed to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His impressive video projections that accompany each set have become highly anticipated. When asked about the significance of the multimedia visual aspects to his art, he explained he’s “always syncing movies and music, film soundtracks … they’re the inspiration.”

Experiencing Aucoin’s show is just that — an experience. It’s bewildering to imagine breaking down aspects of his writing process when faced with the full live set, but he explained it starts with the simple act of popping a movie in.

“[I] put the movie up on a monitor and play chord progressions to its visuals and see what starts to happen,” he said. He then records the song “to the beats of the visuals and its tempo.”

With 2011 came Aucoin’s latest endeavor, his first full-length album We’re All Dying to Live. While touring and travelling, he recorded material with over 500 different artists including Becky Ninkovic of You Say Party, Rae Spoon, Jenn Grant and Sloan’s Jay Ferguson.

A seeming logistical nightmare, he started by making a version of the record as a working blueprint.

“I had people play over what I made,” he said. “Then let changes, and feel change, based on what I was given to work with.”

With raw synth-pop and dripping dance electro calling to Daft Punk and The Flaming Lips, the album’s release party at the 2011 Halifax Pop Explosion is that of legend. Aucoin brought over 80 musicians onstage — a uniquely fitting production for someone who said he sees his role as an artist as offering “new views on the world.”

Given the rambunctious nature of his shows, it’s surprising Aucoin said he rarely takes the live setting into account when writing. Often sporting all white, he displays an organic ease on stage, constantly calling to attendees for interaction. One doesn’t watch Aucoin perform, as much as become a performer oneself.

The bridge of his track “Are You Experiencing?” invites audience members to chant along, “when you give it all up, you get it back.”

“I wrote it specifically to be referring to the little prince’s relationship to the rose in The Little Prince,” he said. “Those lines can mean a lot of things but basically, you get what you give.”

Speaking with Aucoin solidifies him as more than a feel-good party partner. Hoping folks will leave his show tonight with “smiles, sweat and confetti in their hair,” his work speaks to the cathartic powers of camaraderie through music.

Rich Aucoin plays the Grad Club tonight with Writer’s Strike at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15.

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