Article by: Laura Eley
Exploration is an important thing in general, but it's especially true if you’re a musician. And who better to attest to that than Patrick Krief, a member of critically acclaimed bands The Dears and Black Diamond Bay, as well as a music producer and a pursuer of his own solo projects.
Growing up and tweaking his musical prowess in Montreal, Krief is a sound chameleon, consistently changing roles and seeking out new avenues for expression. Now, with the release of his latest self-recorded and produced album Hundred Thousand Pieces, we are given a gateway into his personal triumphs and struggles, about which Krief is heartbreakingly honest.
Joining us for a chat, Sticky sat down to pick his brain and discuss juggling these multiple pursuits while still keeping sane. Or something close to it.
Sticky: When did you know that you wanted to make music your career?
Patrick: I always knew. I just kind of always pictured myself performing in front of people. I think I had a moment of doubt in my early twenties just thinking, “Oh, maybe I should go to school or get a real job.” But that was short lived.
Sticky: You’re a member of both The Dears and Black Diamond Bay, now Krief, and have contributed to a bunch of albums as a musician and producer. How has this been beneficial?
Patrick: You can come in just as a guitar player or as a producer or a writer; it’s just always a new perspective. And sometimes it’s not songs I had anything to do with - like I just mixed somebody’s record, and I wasn’t there for the recording of it or any of that stuff, so it’s completely like hearing a bunch of tracks and turning it into a mix, which was really fun. As long as there’s room for creativity, I’m interested in it.
Sticky: Is it difficult to balance each pursuit?
Patrick: I’ve been kind of lucky in my timing, but I foresee in my future a big scheduling disaster. As things are slowly starting to show up at the same time, I’m like “Uh oh, I don’t know how this is going to work.” But I’d much rather be busy than waiting for something to do.
Sticky: Speaking of being busy, you self-produced your latest album Hundred Thousand Pieces at home, and have produced for other bands. What have you taken from each experience?
Patrick: It’s less personal [to produce for others]. So when I’m working on someone else’s music, I’m able to be just a bit more objective because I’m not afraid of any particular vulnerability. Like, I can be like, “That’s great where you hit that wrong note because it’s got character”, whereas if were my thing, I’d be like “I’m not sure if that wrong note is cool or if it sucks.” And it’s not because I don’t care as much, it’s because there are no irrelevant neuroses based elements coming into the path of the right decision. When you’re putting stuff out in your name, you’ll overthink it. But nothing a little bit of Jameson can’t take care of, just to shut it down.
Sticky: While writing Hundred Thousand Pieces, you’ve talked about being in a dark emotional space. Was it cathartic to write the album, and is it difficult to listen to now?
Patrick: No, I love it. I haven’t listened to it in a long time, but when I play those songs, or I think about how they were written, there’s nothing dark about it to me now. Some songs have lyrically taken on new meanings to what I’m going through now in my life, and then I think “Wow, that’s so crazy how this still applies.” I’ll be on stage singing it, and I’ll think about this new way the song makes sense.
Sticky: I guess sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.
Patrick: It’s more like a “Holy shit, I don’t want to examine that too much because I can’t believe how weird that period of time was.”
Sticky: Are you in a different headspace now from when you were writing it?
Patrick: I am in a different headspace, but it’s a different manifestation of… Life is very different for me now than it was then, just life in general. I wasn’t very busy then, I was completely consumed by it, and now I have a million and one things to do. But I’m slowly approaching the reality of making another record and so hopefully it doesn’t take me into a dark place again. It usually does.
Sticky: You’ve done both EPs and full length albums. How do you know if something is meant to be an EP vs. album?
Patrick: Honestly, I’ve never set out to make an EP. The first Krief EP was the only EP I really made, and it wasn’t because I thought I should make one. When I went in to record that, in my mind it was album, and then the people I was working with kind of said “I don’t think you have an album here, I think you have an EP.” In retrospect, I wish I had made that an album because the songs that didn’t make it are great songs, and I wish I’d put them on there.