From works for symphony and wind orchestras to folk pop chamber weirdness and experimental electronic music, multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and recording artist Chris Carlier has spent the last 20-odd years exploring new sounds.
Starting mainly as a bandleader and sideman in various jazz and rock combos, Chris began performing in the late ’90s. It wasn’t until 2003 that he released his first solo album under the first of what would become dozens of monikers.
That solo album was called Lucky, recorded under the name cloudy, with occasional rain, featuring entirely electronic compositions, ranging from fun, dark, dancy stuff to bizarre, distorted, melodic experimentations.
From there, he attended university for music performance, and went on to gain the opportunity to work with a variety of talented, creative people, playing in, and writing for professional jazz big bands, concert wind bands, small ensembles, and writing for symphony orchestra and chamber ensembles.
Having quit the live jazz and rock scenes around 2010, Chris’ work has focused mainly on composition and solo and small folk/pop ensemble performance.
Chris Carlier & The Scarletts became a regular 5-piece act in his hometown in Regina, SK, Canada, playing imaginative, mellow music that paired well with a nice merlot, featuring compositions by Chris and an uncommon instrumentation (with Chris playing clarinets, saxophones, guitar, and singing, and some pals covering euphonium, keys, electric bass, and percussion).
Like all good things, The Scarletts eventually parted ways, while Chris and one if the members of that band formed an elecro-acoustic thing called Cured By Fire. Performing at festivals and music venues, they specialized in folk pop with a synthy flare.
Aside from solo performance projects, Chris has been composing for film and game projects since 2014, including some works still in progress.
Chris’ most recent project is a massive undertaking, where he serves as every member of 20 completely different musical acts and ensembles, ranging from Icelandic drone metal brothers to an international men’s choir; from Canadian solo chiptune artist to Japanese hip hop. Yes, really. This has been an extremely challenging and time-consuming endeavor which involves creating backstories, visual artwork, individual websites, bandcamp/soundcloud accounts, social media personas, individual band member identities, and more, when it’s really all just him. This insane project, while not yet complete, and not entirely public, can be followed in a weekly video series, where Chris explains where he’s at and what he’s doing with the project. (Check out the videos right here).
When not focusing on a very busy solo career, Chris has performed at annual charity events like Band Swap (where the band members and songs are drawn from a hat and given 24 hours to rehearse and perform, proceeds to charity), and Playing For Change (the international non-profit org benefiting music education), as well as speaking at conferences about music and technology in music, and teaching music in public schools to beginning young musicians.
On top of it all, he co-hosts a weekly radio program on CJTR, Regina Community Radio, exploring new and fun music, and extensive music blogging, with show posts, and an annual music prize for best release of the year. Check it out on 91.3 FM in Regina, and on the CJTR app for Android and iOS. Also check out the website at operationmanatee.ninja.
Here’s what some people are saying about Chris’ works:
“Tunes that at first you think are familiar, an advant garde take on what would normally be orchestral music. Almost soothing music but with an edge.”
“I closed my eyes for this one cause I wasn’t sure what I felt, and I saw bugs and butterflies and flowers and rain and clouds and animals, all doing their thing, but in really fast motion. Do you know what I mean? The vocals make you feel that whatever you are witnessing it’s really special and you’ll only experience it like that once, so pay attention!”
“It’s atmospheric and moody; a lot of people just don’t like that kind of thing, but if you enjoy peeling apart the layers within music, you will find a lot of expression in a piece like this. Taken individually, each track might seem disparate but everything meshes in a way that makes me feel like there is a faint glimmer of hope within a dystopia.”