By Shayla Friesen
CALGARY — Halifax-born Rich Aucoin is a colourful chameleon. To place a genre on the man would almost be insulting, as his style is distinct: self-proclaimed as a “collage.” The term “Motivational Crowd Karaoke” has been used, encompassing positive pop and upbeat rhythms. Aucoin’s latest album Ephemeral touches on the importance of relationships in this one swift life we have. An avid tourer, the man’s spent most of the last four years on the road.
“(I have) a fear of missing out of having all these friends in different places, and constantly missing people and home while touring,” he begins.
“Four More Years,” a track off the new album speaks to this folly: “I, I’m alone so much. What good are friends you cannot touch?”
Although he misses his pals, his vigorous live shows channel positivity with uplifting messages throughout, providing energy that could sustain the entire population of New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
“I always say it’s like a great karaoke night with your friends singing songs you don’t know covered in each other’s sweat and blanketed in confetti and parachutes and mass collective movement.”
Live, most songs are paired with videos, inspirational quotes from the likes of Alan Watts and other famous philosophers. The current tour will feature a Claymation video of the 1943 world-famous children’s novel The Little Prince, whose storyline echoes the common theme of Ephemeral – our short but sweet existence. Karaoke crowd members can anticipate much excitement, yet every show is unique and unpredictable.
“I think trying to do something you haven’t seen done before is a good goal for any artist; in the end you’ll always spin something in a new way even if you’re attempting to be a revival or throw-back band but the more you can push yourself to try new things, I think the more your audience will applaud your artistic merit and their connection to your output.
“I’m always remixing my show and changing the way I perform the songs to keep it fresh for both myself and the audience. I recently went down to Brooklyn and remixed the whole show with a friend, co-musical conspirator and brilliant producer Chrome Sparks at his studio. The result is moving the show into a more electronic type of show. We’ve replaced almost all the stringed instrument samples with vintage analog synths like Moogs and Junos.”
Besides the ever-evolving audio aspects of the show, the stage itself has a revolving door.
“I have a fun open-relationship style band. I think there are around 30 people who currently know the set and can come play with me who live in different cities so the ‘band’ is always changing and morphing depending on the logistical circumstances of the performance. I’ve never gotten into a ‘fight’ over music which I love. Everyone is cool to just play when they can and there’s never any pressure on anyone to make a gig because I can always do it solo too. So I’m constantly going back and forth between bands and solo performances.”
Aucoin will continue to change his colours post tour, with his music updates and new material.
“I’m currently arranging my songs to be performed by a symphony at the Halifax Pop Explosion as well as writing new music and re-updating the live show and trying to live and explore and have fun at the same time.”
Few current artists emulate Aucoin’s sui generis; his raw energy and positivity. You could arrive at the venue, as grumpy as Gram on a bad hot flash day and you’ll leave feeling the best you’ve felt in ages.
Catch Rich Aucoin on Saturday, July 4th at Local 510.AB, Alberta, Local 510, Rich Aucoin