There is little music out there that reaches more deeply on a personal level than that of Montreal singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Krief.
His new project, Automanic, has been described as ‘epic’ and it’s a fitting word to use. Local fans will hear the stellar collection of tunes when Krief plays Bo’s on Nov. 3rd.
The project is actually made up of two distinct parts – as pointed out in a release, Automanic Red and Automanic Blue are two autonomous records, “Bound by bad times – the project was inspired by the heartbreak, grief, despair and fear that followed a devastating string of deaths in Krief’s life.
“I feel inspired by love and happiness and all of those things,” he elaborated during a recent chat. “When I feel good, I want to sit at a piano or a guitar and the music will just flow out of me.
“But lyrically, it’s always a great journal to tap into the darkness and use it as a form of catharsis,” he added. “But what those dark times bring for me personally, and I think a lot of other artists, is that your life sucks in those moments so you really need to get away from that – and music is a great way to do it.
“I compare it to working in the winter. When you have a job in the winter, you probably perform better because you aren’t looking out the window going, ‘I’d love to be out there right now’!
Recorded between Montreal and Kelowna, B.C., Krief played nearly all the instruments on Automanic alongside longtime collaborator Roberto Piccioni.
The two records, according to Krief, are, “Autonomous in their flow and not meant to be listened to in one sitting.” And yet, he continues, “Releasing one without the other simply wouldn’t make any sense — the plot truly exists within the invisible line that bonds them.”
Krief recalled an early introduction to music via primarily his grandmother.
“I was there two or three days a week, and she was a piano player and a music teacher,” he recalls. “And her son, my uncle, was a flutist, piano player, guitar player and a fantastic singer. So this whole music thing was all around me.
“Also, everyone in my family that was into music also played several instruments. I never thought about it as the kind of thing where you had to choose one, and that’s going to be it. Even though I was completely drawn to the guitar, I still had this idea that I could learn all of these instruments.”
He also developed his skills on a range of instruments as a means of accompanying himself when he would record a piece of music. “I also got really, really interested in the drums and the bass – I had a bass pretty much from day one.
“For me, music was going to be a vehicle for creation. That was part of the appeal for learning music.
“For years, before I even had my own guitar, I also envisioned a career in music. Before I even started playing, I just thought how much I wanted to be onstage in front of people.”
Over the years, he did decide to go to university after high school, but he just wan’t happy on that particular path.
“I did start getting a little dose of how hard it might be to attain a career (in music),” he explained. “I thought that I had better go back to school and get a solid back up plan.
“But I couldn’t focus on school – I was always thinking about music. I just thought what am I doing here? I hate this.”
Meanwhile, the opening sounds of Automanic Red are immediately alluring thanks to the stunning All is Lost.
Darkometro continues the powerful run, with it’s comparably lighter, pop-styled touch. The title track is also compelling, as is the utterly unique and remarkably crafted Mississippi. Krief is clearly a musician who isn’t wary of treading fresh sonic territory – there truly isn’t very much out there like what he has created, and it’s refreshing to say the least.
“For me as a songwriter, it’s very important for a song to stand alone,” he said. A teacher once told him that a song has to stand the ‘campfire test’. “Can somebody play your song at a campfire? He said that if the answer is no, then your song sucks,” he added with a chuckle. “I thought, yes, that’s great.
“So I think that the part of the album that I’m most proud is really giving that attention to the songs on their own, and making sure that they can hold up without any bells and whistles.”