Chris Carlier takes the little that he knows about his favourite artists and, inspired by them, splashes blotches of ink onto paper using magic and a pencil. He then hires as many great musicians as he can to back him up in a weird little thrown-together chamber-sort-of setting and shouts at them, forcing them to run around the room screaming like insane persons until music comes out.
Ever exploring sound, Chris started back in the ’90s on saxophone, playing his first paid gig at age 13 at a local seniors centre. Now with 17 years in the business, whether on trusty tenor sax, guitar, piano, percussion, bass clarinet, didgeridoo or whatever else he can get his hands on, he keeps pretty busy. Outside of regular jazz performances for private events like fundraisers and weddings, he’s been recording and performing electronic music since 2003 and completed his first symphony in 2008 for the a competition put on by Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. After being re-written for wind band in 2010, the piece was added to a 2011 spring concert by the University of Regina Wind Ensemble.
Over the years, Chris has had the privilege to play across Canada and locally with members of countless local ensembles including the Regina Symphony Orchestra, the Bob Moyer Big Band, The University of Regina Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, Skavenjah and so on, but it hasn’t been until the past couple of years that he’s focused his energy on his own music.
In recent months, he contacted some friends about playing in a “chamber pop music” ensemble. This new group, consists of a music teacher on percussion (Jen Yim), a pop performer/composer on piano (Zach Appleton), another music teacher on euphonium (Mandy McArthur), a first-call, a heavily performing and recording artist on electric bass (Rob D) and Chris playing clarinets, saxophones, auxiliary percussion and singing. The sound builds on ideas from Frank Zappa, Beirut, Bela Fleck and other innovators, evolving into a creative sound certainly not being heard already in Regina. Being a new ensemble, they’ve only been able to play a small number of times, but so far reviews have been positive and their ambition is boundless. Chris has been working tirelessly to get his foot in the door and it’s finally starting to pay off with performances. For the next step, Chris intends to secure a grant to record the ensemble with additional players on strings and other instruments that aren’t normally found in this setting.
Here’s what some people are saying about Chris’ music:
“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.”