The wacky world of VanGaalen

Chad VanGaalen discusses his various projects and upcoming Prairie tour starting in Winnipeg on Jan. 19

Multi-faceted artist Chad VanGaalen is starting a nine-day Prairie-province-tour starting in Winnipeg on Friday, Jan. 19, at The Good Will Social Club.

VanGaalen recently released Light Information in September, and has since toured parts of Europe, the U.S., and Canada.

Known for more than just his music, VanGaalen also animates and produces videos, produces music, and writes soundtracks. Currently, he is scoring a TV show on Adult Swim called Dream Corp LLC.

“My favourite thing to do in the world is to make soundtracks for this super weird show,” Van Gaalen said. “They never think my songs are weird.”

To write an album, VanGaalen said he simply shares his music often, until feedback says it is listenable. Using unconventional instruments, like a box of insects used on a score for Dream Corp LLC, makes it difficult to have songs that sound like they belong together on a record.

“I’ll just keep sending out songs till people are like ‘This is like a record of songs[…] where you are singing and playing instruments that are actual instruments and not just pieces of driftwood you’re throwing into the corner,’” VanGaalen said.

VanGaalen said this album was hard to write songs for Light Information because he tends to not give himself boundaries, which can result in unusable material. Van Gaalen ended up going back to music he wrote six years ago, before his fifth full-length album Shrink Dust, which was released in 2014.

“I had to start with songs written before my last album, and people forgot about those songs, and then everyone was like ‘This is great!’” VanGaalen said.

Light Information includes some of the old tracks all the way up to songs written as recently as the day the album was being pressed. Van Gaalen’s daughters Esme and Pip were playing in the backyard during one of his recording sessions and he asked them to come in and sing on one of his tracks last minute. “I called [record label] Sub Pop and said ‘You have to phone the record plant and tell them not to print the record,’ because I had a song that my daughters sing on, ‘Static Shape’, and that literally happened in the moment,” VanGaalen said.

“And I was like ‘oh, they’re going to lose their minds if I put them on a record,’ and Sub Pop was willing to do it.”

The new album offers a few glimpses into VanGaalen’s love for sound and soundtrack. Most clearly, “Prep Piano and 770” demonstrates the weight and sensation of clear sound, before growing into a slightly disturbing, short procession of phrases.

“I’ve been putting that stuff out for years on cassette as [alias] Black Mold and nobody cares,” he said.

“It’s definitely what I’m most proud of.”

VanGaalen said “Prep Piano and 770” was the only song, of five, previously released as Black Mold that made it onto the album.

Winnipeg musician, and fan of VanGaalen Daniel Guezen will be attending the show on Jan. 19.

“For me, Chad Vangaalen represents what you can do when you don’t place many limitations on your creativity. His work is boundless, and the subject matter often disturbing yet engaging,” Guezen said. “The perfect DIY musician on such a large scale,” he added.

VanGaalen will be releasing another video shortly, and is heading off to Germany in April for an animation festival.

“I’ve never sat on a panel before but I’m excited about taking my visual art a little more seriously these days,” VanGaalen said. “I like the idea of hanging drawings on the wall and not having to perform the drawings.”

VanGaalen is stopping in Saskatoon, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton after Winnipeg. While he said he looks forward to performing and seeing loved ones, he is not excited to be touring the Prairies in mid-winter.

“I have kids, so I’m always worried when I’m on the road that I’m going to die on the road,” he said.


Chad VanGaalen will perform with Mauno at The Good Will Social Club on Jan. 19. Tickets are sold out online but will be available at the door.