Interview: Eric Chenaux

The Brief


Eric Chenaux is a vocalist and guitarist whose wide-ranging influences include jazz, folk, and the avant-garde. He has been closely associated with Toronto’s DIY music scene since the 1990s, and is also the cofounder of the experimental label Rat-Drifting. Chenaux has released six solo albums since 2006, receiving acclaim from publications including Exclaim!, The Guardian, and Tiny Mix Tapes. His most recent record, Slowly Paradise, was released in March 2018 on Constellation.

Which visual artwork would you recommend?
Hum by Marla Hlady. Small speakers playing melodies are attached to ceiling fans. As the fans start or stop, or spin slowly or more quickly, we are left listening aberrantly.

Which film would you recommend?
Café Lumière, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. A homage to Yasujirô Ozu that has one of the most stunning silent-love-gaze-montage scenes in cinema since the final scene of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights.

Which book about books would you recommend?
The Arachnean and Other Texts by Fernand Deligny: ‘These are not photos of an experience but rather a certain experience of photography.’ Concerned with what books do rather than what they are about.

Which choreographical work would you recommend?
Locus Focus by Min Tanaka dances in the margins between the comic, the deformed, and the beyond beautiful. ‘The body repeats promises carefully in order to break them.’

Can lighting design tell us as much as a thousand words?
In Pillars (for David Moodey), Robert Ashley relates, in I don’t know how many words, an imaginary piece for lighting with his singularly psychedelic use of human voice.

Can the search for meaning in art lead us to dead ends?
Given the choice? I will always prefer an encounter with Miss Experimentation to Miss Interpretation. She’s a much better dancer.

How does an artist's anonymity affect their artwork?
I have always chosen to use my given name over a moniker for the simple fact that it was given to me and seems to ‘say’ less about me than any name I would invent.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Aquatic’ would you recommend?
‘There Once Was a Sky’ by Ryan Driver, which includes the line: ‘Once there was an ocean of water.’ Music that illuminates new densities, movements, and intensities in the world of song.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Floating’ would you recommend?
‘They Call This Everything’, another song by Ryan Driver: ‘We’ll just float away. Nothing is sacred and nothing is profane.’ Its psych-sobriety renders the world more ambulant, quiet, wild.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Bonus’ would you recommend?
And a bonus: Ryan Driver’s bass piano songs. Stunning ballads: human voice, spread-out synth and bass piano improvisations.

Which Thai films would you recommend?
Three films directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The opening credits of Blissfully Yours come in at over 43 minutes, and it is a film to which I wish the world bore a greater resemblance.

Tropical Malady is a reverie. The film itself dreams and is an elegant and reflective fugitive from cinema’s dependence on conflict and resolution.

In Syndromes and a Century, everyone is warm to each other, allowing us to better hear and see the environments from which these warmths cannot be extricated.

Which artist or artwork do you most want others to discove?
Canadian composer and musician Martin Arnold’s melodic polyphonic psychedelic lounge consort music can be heard on the CD The Spit Veleta (released on Another Timbre).

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
Materials – in motion – emerge before any question is asked, enabling us to remain calm and quiet while we improvise with language and movement. Funny question.

More to discover

Eric Chenaux: Visit Eric Chenaux’s website here and his page on Constellation Records here. Listen to There's Our Love’, ‘Wild Moon’, ‘Amazing Backgrounds’, ‘Lavallière’, ‘Put In Music’, and ‘Warm Charleston’.

Today’s recommendations: Hum (information), Café Lumière (trailer), The Arachnean and Other Texts (excerpt), Locus Focus (excerpt), Pillars (for David Moodey) (information), There Once Was a Sky (song), They Call This Everything (song), Ryan Driver’s bass piano songs (Bandcamp page), Blissfully Yours (trailer), Tropical Malady (trailer), Syndromes and a Century (trailer), Slip Minuet (excerpt from The Spit Veleta).

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