Music Video

Listen Up! 5 Questions for Chad VanGaalen

O Canada, we’re on our way! On September 19, we’ll open our first-ever Canadian location just east of the Rocky Mountains, in the stunning city of Calgary.

As we eagerly anticipate that day, we’ve been checking out all kinds of things that make Calgary cool. Take, for instance, singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen. The Calgary native is a creative juggernaut; not only does he have several mind-expanding albums to his credit—the latest, Shrink Dust, was released on Seattle’s very own Sub Pop Records—he’s also an illustrator, filmmaker and producer. (His home studio is brilliantly named “Yoko Eno.”) Oh, AND he directed a video for label-mates The Head and the Heart earlier this year. So, yeah… NBD.

Read on for our concise yet illuminating interview with the hyper-productive VanGaalen.

THE THREAD: We love that people from Calgary are called Calgarians. It sounds like you guys are all envoys at an intergalactic summit. What do you love about living in Calgary?

CHAD VANGAALEN: I love that my body is perfectly adjusted to living in this climate; the barometric pressure keeps my molecules contained.

Do you think being from Calgary has shaped your sound and, if so, in which ways?

The landscape and especially the mountains and vast amount of space that the Rocky Mountains contain have shaped my songs. Exposure to the wild is a necessary element in the development of my ideas. Calgary is very close to the wild that I love.

You’ve got such a beautiful and distinctive voice. Have you always sung this way, or was it something that developed over time?

When I was a teen, I really wanted a voice like Kurt Cobain, but instead, I had a voice like an old lady.

Translated Log of Inhabitants is the name of an animated sci-fi cartoon you’ve been working on. Can you tell us a little about it? And do you have a release date yet?

When it will be done, I cannot say—I’m hoping in the fall. But I feel like it is growing so slowly that it is impossible to say. I also have a hard time knowing what it’s about anymore.

You’ve referenced the Flying Burrito Brothers as an influence for Shrink Dust. Would you ever wear a Nudie suit?

I would wear a Nudie suit if I got to design it, yes.

Chad VanGaalen’s second record, Shrink Dust, is out now on Sub Pop Records.

—Jenny Yule