Halifax-based electronic indie dance pop wonderkid, Rich Aucoin, has a nickname here in Nelson, and you probably wouldn’t guess what it is.
Four years ago, as part of an ambitious solo tour to promote his first EP Public Publication, and raise funds for Childhood Cancer Canada, Aucoin biked all the way across Canada, somehow still bringing his ridiculously high-energy show to the places he stopped. One of those places was Nelson’s Hume Hotel.
“They were letting me eat for free and because I was biking so much I had this, like, tripled appetite,” Aucoin says. “I wasn’t putting on any weight. So the waitresses at the restaurant were nicknaming me Tapeworm, because they couldn’t figure out what I was doing with all the food.” Yup, Tapeworm.
And now Aucoin is coming back to town. Except this time he has traded in his bicycle for the internationally acclaimed Canadian rapper, k-os. The two are embarking on a cross-Canada tour, which is an exciting prospect for anybody following Aucoin’s career. If there’s one thing that distinguishes him from other recording artists in Canada today, it’s his ability to draw energy and inspiration from the people around him.
“With the last record, the idea was to make it with a bunch of people,” Aucoin says of his 2011 release We’re All Dying to Live. It’s an endearing understatement. He recorded the album while on tour, enlisting the help of around 550 friends and fellow musicians. The result was a sprawling, anthemic, 22-track revelation. Imagine if Pink Floyd (circa The Wall), the Flaming Lips and The Beach Boys all collided on a dance floor, decided that they were the three best friends that anybody could have, and then cut a record together. It’s that good.
In the years since then Rich Aucoin has been gaining recognition. Last month, his music video for the song “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E” won the inaugural Prism Prize for best Canadian music video, beating out other heavyweights such as Arcade Fire, Grimes, and Mother Mother. When asked about the effects of the win and its $5,000 prize Aucoin laughs and says, “I guess maybe now Drake’s heard of me.”
He’s also recording a new album: the tentatively-titled Ephemeral, a “short, fast-paced record that is more in gear with the live show.” For example, for this new LP, Aucoin has been recording his festival audiences singing the chorus to a new song a-capella, with the goal of eventually adding all the recordings into the finished product. “In the long run, I probably have at max 30,000 people singing,” he says. “It sounds really cool.”
If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that Rich Aucoin brings the best, most musical elements out of the people around him, and then distills that into his own music. If you’re lucky enough to see him and k-os at Spiritbar on Monday, April 15, you’ll likely feel like you’re becoming part of it too. Tickets are $25. Doors open at 8 p.m.