Owen Pallett: Wikis


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Owen Pallett
File:Final Fantasy at Hillside, July 26, 2009.jpg
Pallett performing at the 2009 Hillside Festival
Background information
Born September 7, 1979 (1979-09-07) (age 30)
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Experimental music
Indie pop
Baroque pop
Occupations Composer, Violinist
Instruments Violin, Vocals, Piano, Harpsichord
Labels Blocks Recording Club
Domino Records
Associated acts Final Fantasy
Arcade Fire
Les Mouches
The Last Shadow Puppets
Enter the haggis
Hidden Cameras
Patrick Wolf
Website owenpalletteternal.com

Michael James Owen Pallett (born September 7, 1979) is a composer, violinist, and singer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and winner of the inaugural Polaris Music Prize.

Pallett is best known as the principal member of the band Owen Pallett (formerly "Final Fantasy") which is essentially a solo project, although Leon Taheny is also credited as drummer and engineer. More recently, Pallett has toured with guitarist/percussionist Thomas Gill.[1]

The name Final Fantasy was a tribute to the well-known video game series, of which Pallett is a fan.[2] Pallett retired the name Final Fantasy with the release of Heartland.[3]

Pallett has been noted for his live performances, wherein he plays the violin into a loop pedal, a technique also used by musicians such as Andrew Bird and Zoe Keating. Pallett uses Max/MSP to do multi-phonic looping, which sends his violin signal to amplifiers across the stage.


Life and career

Pallett's father is an avid church organist who provided a background in solely classical music until early preteens. From toddler age, he studied classical violin and composed his first piece at age 13. A notable composition includes some of the music for the game Traffic Department 2192, to scoring films, to composing two operas while in university. Apart from the indie music scene, he has had commissions from Bang on a Can, the Vancouver CBC Orchestra, and Fine Young Classicals.

He believes his work is implicitly influenced by his sexuality, saying, "As far as whether the music I make is gay or queer, yeah, it comes from the fact that I'm gay, but that doesn't mean I'm making music about it."[4]

Pallett received an Honours Bachelor of Music for Composition from the University of Toronto in 2002.[5]

Patrick Borjal, Pallett's boyfriend, began working as his manager in 2006, and formed the management company Boyfriend Management.[6]

Final Fantasy

Pallett's debut album, Has a Good Home, was released on February 12, 2005, by the Blocks Recording Club, a cooperative, Toronto-based record label of which he is a founding member. "Adventure.exe" from this album was used in a series of 2006 commercials by Orange in the United Kingdom.[7] Pallett did not intend to sell the song for this purpose, but its use was authorized due to an alleged miscommunication with his record label, Tomlab. All of Pallett's income from this use is donated to Doctors Without Borders.[8]

Pallett's second album, He Poos Clouds, was released in June 2006, though the video,[9] directed by Jesse Ewles, was released on March 1, 2006. The album consists entirely of string quartet arrangements. Eight of the ten songs are about each of the schools of magic as described in the rules to the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. The album was named winner of the 2006 Polaris Music Prize. Uncomfortable with receiving a prize sponsored by a mobile phone conglomerate, Pallett gave the money away to bands he liked who needed financial assistance.

On November 11, 2006, Pallett posted to a fan forum to announce a new album, tentatively titled Heartland.[10] Subsequently on July 9, 2007 on the CBC Radio One program Q, Pallett said that the album would be released no earlier than mid 2008. In the same interview he confirmed that it would be titled Heartland, and that it was an album about nothingness.

In 2007, the song "This Is The Dream Of Win & Regine" was used in a commercial for Wiener Stadtwerke without Pallett's permission. Instead of litigation, Pallett and his booking agent Susanne Herrndorf approached the company for sponsorship for a music festival of their curation. The resultant Maximum Black Festival featured Final Fantasy, The Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof, Frog Eyes, Max Tundra, Six Organs Of Admittance and others. It played Vienna, Berlin and London. In September 2007 they did a Take-Away Show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon.

In October 2007 Final Fantasy released a vinyl 7" on Tomlab's Alphabet Single series ( The Letter "X" ). The two tracks on "X", recorded in Montreal with Zach Condon, of the band Beirut; predate the album He Poos Clouds. The tracks – "Hey Dad" and "What Do You Think Will Happen Next?" are both played regularly at live shows. The song "Hey Dad" contains a melody borrowed from the Nintendo video game "Super Mario Bros. 3"; specifically it is the music from the "Coin Heaven" bonus/hidden stages. Also, the song is quite similar in melody, lyrics and tone to another of Pallett's songs – "→".

In March 2008, Owen Pallett under the alias Final Fantasy, collaborated with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste on a cover of Björk's "Possibly Maybe" as part of Stereogum's tribute to Björk's album, Post.[11]

In Fall 2008, Pallett released two EPs. The first one, Spectrum, 14th Century, was a collaboration with Beirut. The second EP, Plays To Please, found Pallett paying homage to fellow Torontonian Alex Lukashevsky, his group Deep Dark United, and his unique personality. On it, six Lukashevsky originals were reconfigured for a 35-piece big band, the Toronto-based St. Kitts Orchestra (which includes Drumheller's Nick Fraser, Paul Mathew of the Hidden Cameras, and a whistling Andrew Bird, among others).[12]

On December 18, 2009, Pallett announced "I am voluntarily retiring my band name" and that Heartland "will be issued under my own name, Owen Pallett" to "definitively distinguish my music from Square/Enix's games".[3] The album was released on Domino Records on January 12, 2010. It was mixed by New York producer Rusty Santos.[13]

Other contributions

Final Fantasy performing in 2005.

Pallett's previous projects included a 3-piece Toronto-based band, Les Mouches, now defunct. He was once the violinist of another Toronto band called Picastro, and briefly played keyboard in SS Cardiacs (with Leon Taheny, Jessie Stein and Michael Small in 2005). Pallett has also recorded and toured with Jim Guthrie, The Hidden Cameras, Royal City, The Vinyl Cafe, Gentleman Reg, and Arcade Fire (he co-wrote the strings arrangement for their albums Funeral and Neon Bible).[14] One of his songs, "This Is the Dream of Win & Regine", was inspired by the principal members of the latter group, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne,[14] and is a play on a Dntel song called, "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan."

Pallett contributed remixes for the bands Stars ("Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," for the remix album Do You Trust Your Friends?), Grizzly Bear and Death from Above 1979. He also wrote string arrangements for the Canadian bands Immaculate Machine, on their 2007 album, Fables, and Fucked Up, on their 2006 album Hidden World. He also wrote the string arrangements for the Beirut album The Flying Club Cup, as well as providing guest vocals on some tracks.[15] Most recently, he provided orchestration for the solo debut of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner (with Miles Kane, as The Last Shadow Puppets), entitled The Age of the Understatement. Pallett also conducted the London Metropolitan Orchestra in the recording of this project.

In June 2009 at Luminato, Toronto's annual festival of arts and creativity, Pallett provided part of the live soundtrack for the outdoor screening (at Yonge-Dundas Square) of the 1919 silent German horror film Tales Of The Uncanny (Unheimliche Geschichten), alongside Canadian instrumental band Do Make Say Think and electronica music artist Robert Lippok from Berlin, Germany.

On October 17, Pallett posted on his Twitter page that he had just completed "10 days on the best album I've ever had the pleasure of working on".[16]. This was ten days after a previous comment suggesting he was in the studio with Arcade Fire[17], who are reportedly at work on their third album. [1]

In 2009, Pallett worked with Win Butler and Régine Chassagne on the score for Richard Kelly's film The Box.[18] Pallett also scored Rabbit Hole, an upcoming film by John Cameron Mitchell, although it was later revealed that the film would be scored by Abel Korzeniowski.[19]


With Les Mouches

Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy)

Studio albums

EPs and singles

Various songs

  • "Joys" – appears on Worried Noodles (2007), a compilation of David Shrigley's lyrics set to music.
  • "Flare Gun" – appears on #8: SPAM (2007), a compilation released by Esopus.
  • "Possibly Maybe" – duet with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear. Appears on the Stereogum compilation Enjoyed (2008), a tribute to Björk's Post.
  • "The Donor" – appears on Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill (2009).
  • "Red Sun (demo version)" – appears on Friends in Bellwoods II (2009).

Other contributions

Year Artist Album Description
2002 Jim Guthrie Morning Noon Night
2003 Jim Guthrie Now, More Than Ever violins, viola, string arrangements
The Hidden Cameras The Smell of Our Own violin, viola
2004 The Hidden Cameras The Arms of His 'Ill' viola on "Builds the Bone"
The Hidden Cameras Mississauga Goddam violin, piano, celeste
Arcade Fire Funeral violin, string arrangements
Gentleman Reg Darby & Joan string arrangements
Dan Goldman Through A Revolution
Royal City Little Heart's Ease
Death from Above 1979 Romance Bloody Romance: Remixes & B-Sides violin on "Black History Month"
2005 Picastro Metal Cares
Grizzly Bear Horn of Plenty (The Remixes) "Don't Ask" – Remix
2006 Grizzly Bear Yellow House string arrangements
Fucked Up Hidden World string arrangements
2007 Arcade Fire Neon Bible orchestral arrangements, violin
C'mon Bottled Lightning (of an All Time High) string arrangements
Great Lake Swimmers Ongiara string arrangements
Beirut The Flying Club Cup violin, organ, backup vocals, string arrangements
Immaculate Machine Immaculate Machine's Fables violin
Montag Going Places vocals on "Softness, I Forgot Your Name"
Picastro Whore's Luck
Holy Fuck LP violin on "Lovely Allen"[21]
Stars Do You Trust Your Friends? "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" – Remix
2008 Dan Goldman Luxury Pond string quartet arrangements
The Last Shadow Puppets The Age of the Understatement arranged and conducted orchestrations
2009 The Rumble Strips Welcome to the Walk Alone violin, string arrangements
Pet Shop Boys Yes orchestra arrangement
The Mountain Goats The Life of the World to Come violin, string arrangements
Mika The Boy Who Knew Too Much violin, string arrangements


  1. ^ Ben Rayner (January 10, 2010). "Owen Pallett says farewell to Final Fantasy". thestar.com. http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/cdreview/article/748614--owen-pallett-says-farewell-to-final-fantasy. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  2. ^ http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/10301-profile-final-fantasy
  3. ^ a b http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/news/18-12-09/final-fantasy-name-change-to-owen-pallett/
  4. ^ Liss, Sarah (2005-06-23). "Final Fantasy". NOW Magazine. http://www.nowtoronto.com/art/story.cfm?content=147978&archive=24,43,2005. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  5. ^ "Experiments with Violin". University of Toronto Magazine. Summer 2006. http://www.magazine.utoronto.ca/06summer/alumninotes.asp. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  6. ^ "Toronto musician embarks on cross-country tour". Capital Xtra!. June 29, 2007. http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?AFF_TYPE=2&STORY_ID=3247&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=2. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  7. ^ YouTube – Orange Animals Big Idea 30 second – panther
  8. ^ "When Final Fantasy Sells Out". SHZine posting board. 2006-08-01. http://shzine.proboards10.com/index.cgi?board=fantasy&action=display&thread=1154462172&page=1. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  9. ^ "He Poos Clouds Video". http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=1549158669315142277&q=he+poos+clouds. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  10. ^ "Heartland". SHZine posting board. 2006-11-11. http://shzine.proboards10.com/index.cgi?board=fantasy&action=display&thread=1163299438. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  11. ^ "Enjoyed: A Tribute To Bjork's Post". http://stereogum.com/bjork/. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  12. ^ brandon (August 26, 2008). "New Final Fantasy – "The Butcher" & "Ultimatum" (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum. http://stereogum.com/archives/mp3/new-final-fantasy-ultimatum-the-butcher_017131.html. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  13. ^ "Heartland". Domino. http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/albums/30-11-09/heartland/. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  14. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen M. (2005-03-09). "Profile: Final Fantasy". Pitchfork Media. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/10301-profile-final-fantasy. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  15. ^ Solarski, Matthew (2007-06-21). "Beirut Announce Album Release Date, Tracklist, Tour". Pitchfork Media. http://pitchforkmedia.com/article/news/43770-beirut-announce-album-release-date-tracklist-tour. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  16. ^ "Twitter / Owen Pallett". Twitter. 2009-10-17. http://twitter.com/owenpallett/status/4974426935. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  17. ^ "Twitter / Owen Pallett". Twitter. 2009-10-07. http://twitter.com/owenpallett/status/4694804215. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  18. ^ "From Arcade Fire to Mika, Owen Pallett is the industry's go-to guy for a lavish orchestral arrangement". guardian.co.uk. January 16, 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jan/16/owen-pallett-interview-heartland. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  19. ^ "Korzeniowski to score ‘Rabbit Hole’". MovieScore Magazine. 3 March 2010. http://moviescoremagazine.com/2010/03/korzeniowski-to-score-rabbit-hole/. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  20. ^ Dombal, Ryan (2009-09-30). "Final Fantasy Reveals Heartland Details: It's a Concept Album". Pitchfork Media. http://pitchfork.com/news/36644-final-fantasy-reveals-iheartlandi-details-its-a-concept-album/. Retrieved 2009-09-30. 
  21. ^ What's in a name? The Holy Fuck story

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