Peace Chord is the new project from Daniel Robertson, a Canadian musician and core member of Vancouver-based Crack Cloud. His eponymous debut album is a deeply personal, ethereal collection of songs in which he reflects on the worlds he has been immersed in. From minimalist explorations of gentle voice, upright piano, and vintage synthesizers, vulnerable meditations emerge. Through these spacious compositions, Robertson makes room for ideas to take hold and evolve gradually, drawing the listener into his world.
‘Empty In This House’ is the second single to be released from the Peace Chord debut. This single stems from Robertson’s experiences working in harm reduction in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for a number of years: “On my way home from the shelter, I would write words on my phone. This song grew as I was recollecting the imprints of witnessed trauma, the dissociation from a name, returning to myself to trace the changes”.
1: Goldfish can tell the difference between Bach and Stravinsky.
2: Gorgone macarea moths drink the tears of sleeping birds.
3: Groups of goats develop distinct accents.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
I’m inspired by the perseverance and creativity of the people around me, the spirituality of my upbringing, a pervasive feeling of restlessness, dogs, and synthesizers (old and new).
2. How and when did you get into making music?
My family is very musical; my mom would play piano in church and my dad would play guitar in our living room, singing Bruce Cockburn songs. I started learning piano very young, maybe 7 or 8, but always wanted to play guitar. When I was 13 my parents rented an electric guitar for me and I began writing music and playing in bands with classmates.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Choosing favourites of all time is very difficult – here are my favourite albums recently:
Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru – S/T
Suzanne Ciani – Buchla Concerts 1975
Tim Hecker – Konoyo
Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil
The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
My friend Sylvie’s apartment, rain, many wonderful paintings, watching ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ for the first time, the heaviest sub-bass I’ve ever experienced, and being in a tiny hostel room with the rest of Crack Cloud.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
It’s so difficult to choose – one of my favourites is Crab Park. For a long time I would walk to Crab Park every day to write. It’s sort of hidden away, between the water, the downtown eastside and the shipping port.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I think I would certainly still be involved in harm reduction work in my city, and I would probably be more deeply into sculpture and puppet making.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
It was ‘Multivocal’ by Jessica Ekomane (which I absolutely love). I think she is from Berlin.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I don’t often think about collaboration, aside from with those who organically come into my life. It’s inspiring to work with the people around me – the other members of Crack Cloud, people in my community. Of course there are artists and directors whose work I admire so much, but collaboration is such a personal process – I would have to get to know them first.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Playing with Crack Cloud in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for Overdose Awareness Day was a special moment.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I enjoy the instability of outdated technology, and building things by hand. Every aspect of my life is integrated seamlessly with some form of technology, so there is a certain satisfaction that comes from the unpredictability of less reliable technology and having to fight to make it work (ie tape machines, hand-built synthesizers, a loom).
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a younger brother and a younger sister – they are both very talented creatively and musically, and they encourage me a lot. My brother and I have recently been recording long, distorted beats together.
And the Downtown Eastside for Overdose Awareness Day performance mentioned:
Photo © Theo Lekan