Introducing Graham Van Pelt’s new project

The Montreal singer and musician best known for Miracle Fortress makes his live debut with Inside Touch at the Passovah music fest tonight.

Inside Touch
Inside Touch art work. NBA player portraits by Sophia Burke
Though he’s in the midst of wrapping up the recording of the long-awaited next Miracle Fortress album (expect two new singles in September), Graham Van Pelt has found time to launch a new project, Inside Touch. It’s been a studio endeavour till now, but tonight Inside Touch is happening live, headlining the Passovah music festival show at the Rialto Piccolo.

I spoke to Van Pelt about where this electronic afterhours tangent came from.

Lorraine Carpenter: So how did this project get started?
Graham Van Pelt: I’ve been listening to lots and lots of dance music. I’ve always listened to it on the periphery and gotten into the odd single or album here and there. Then I started to notice the make-up of some of the tracks I really like and instead of seeking out more tracks to put a mix together, I thought I might just try filling in the gaps with some tracks of my own.

I had some studio time at the Pines in Griffintown, which is traditionally a place to produce rock music and guitar music. It’s got a lot of interesting-sounding equipment and a lot of interesting ways to make atmospheric and reverby sounds. I just started experimenting down there and came up with some stuff I really liked, and I decided to try my hand at starting to release it, to push myself to make more of it and stick with it.

LC: Was this material always clearly distinct from Miracle Fortress?
GVP: Right, yeah, I mean over the years I’ve been figuring out how to produce different kinds of tracks and a lot of it finds its way into Miracle Fortress, but to do a really clubby dance track doesn’t fit in with the rest of the stuff that that project’s doing. Often I’ll create beats or drum tracks and then not really have any place to put them or use them, especially if it’s a really insistent drum track that doesn’t leave room to write a song on top of it. Maybe in the past that would’ve gotten filed away on a hard drive somewhere but now I just decided to take up the challenge of making it into a project.

Graham Van Pelt
Graham Van Pelt

LC: How are you going to play it live?
GVP: The tracks are made through jamming — I get a bunch of synths and effects hooked up and just sort of let an idea go along for a few minutes and start adding and subtracting things. I’m gonna try to do that on stage in its raw form.

After doing Miracle Fortress for a long time, what I really don’t want this project to be is very serious, with a long-term trajectory planned for it. I wanna keep it off-the-cuff and fresh, and I’m gonna try to do that with the live show as well.

LC: There are no vocals in this project, right?
GVP: No.

LC: What about samples?
GVP: I found some spoken word stuff at the Pines, on a hard drive that didn’t belong to me (laughs). I sort of mutated and warped it until it was unrecognizable, ’cause the track really needed a kind of creepy voice happening and I didn’t want to try and do that myself. But it’s not sample-based, really, it’s kind of programmed on the fly.

LC: Do you have more shows booked after the Passovah show?
GVP: Not yet but I am gonna try and do a couple more parties before the end of the year. I’ve talked to some people about different venues around town that seem appropriate for it. I’d like to just do some small parties in intimate settings for friends for a while first. Any of that’ll get announced on the Facebook.

LC: Can we expect to see Inside Touch playing a 4 a.m. set in a sketchy Mile End loft?
GVP: (laughs) The project is kind of influenced by that environment a lot, so I would imagine that’s hopefully where it’s headed. ■
Inside Touch headlines the Passovah music festival showcase (feat. eight other bands) at Cabaret Piccolo Rialto (5723 Parc) tonight, Friday, Aug. 22, 8 p.m., $5 to $25 suggested donation, all ages