Peace on the Rise // Chad VanGaalen

Chad VanGaalen has a contest for this video on his website for the month of May –
check it out here!

Chad VanGaalen on Sub Pop

“Peace On the Rise” from the 5/1711 Chad VanGaalen record Diaper Island

“Growing up in Calgary?” Chad VanGaalen answers my question with a question. “Well, this might be a bit of an impossible question.” VanGaalen’s hesitation casually hints to the care and thoughtfulness he has regarding his personal life and, of course, his music. As Sub Pop (his current label) puts it, “Every so often, Chad VanGaalen emerges from his bunker in Calgary with a batch of songs, giving us a window into the private world of this reclusive and enigmatic songwriter.” With the release of his new album, Diaper Island, VanGaalen has certainly resurfaced from his bunker. “I love Calgary,” VanGaalen continues, “it was a very ‘safe’ city to grow up in. The city itself back when I was growing up was beautiful. Lots of green space and an awesome winding river valley. I was into comics like crazy and skateboarding. I think my exposure to Robert Crumb and Mad Magazine shaped a lot of my brain as a kid. Cold winters were great as well, I really remember loving them. They are wearing on me a bit now, but back then,” he jokes, “I would toboggan the shit out of myself.”

Though his hometown isn’t the only environment that affects his music. VanGaalen discloses, “A lot of my sound is really governed by the spaces I record in.” He has recorded all four of his albums in different spaces, ranging from a basement bedroom to a professional studio. VanGaalen uses the word “machines,” to describe his recording equipment, coming across as rather wary of the equipment. “The machines I use now, I have somewhat mastered. Soft Airplane and Diaper Island were recorded on the same machines.” For Diaper Island however, “I pushed it a bit more for some dirt,” he explains, as “Diaper Island was more or less of a metaphorical title based on the idea that the trash we create over a lifetime disappears when we put it out for the garbage removal,” and as VanGaalen clarifies his amusement, “I like to imagine all of my trash becoming a single entity.”

If possible, VanGaalen’s explanation of the song “Peace on the Rise,” is just about as meditative as the song itself; “Simple things that make me feel at one inside of all this mess,” says VanGaalen, “that’s where I got the inspiration from for ‘Peace on the Rise.’” Also, just in case you thought VanGaalen’s talent begins and ends with songwriting, consider yourself mistaken. VanGaalen happens to be the genius behind all of the animation for the video, which he explains, “was done by myself over a period of about a year, but it was broken up by me having another child and recording records.” Ending our interview with his plans for the imminent year ahead, VanGaalen responds with the same appreciative calm as when the interview began, “My plans are to hang out with my daughters, wife and dog as much as possible… and just breathe.”

—Annick Mayer