POP Montréal | Bell Orchestre in your face, without symphonic complement

Interview by Alain Brunet

Additional Information

After seducing major orchestra audiences with a symphonic version of its recent repertoire, notably at the OSM in autumn 2021, Montreal ensemble Bell Orchestre returns to its original formula, without orchestral additions. Presented this Thursday at Pop Montréal, this instrumental music singularly embraces indie pop, but also post-minimalism, jazz, prog and electronica. Richard Reed Parry won’t be talking about Arcade Fire in this case, but rather about this increasingly less parallel flagship project, which has been his passion for many years.

PAN M 360 : How are you Richard?

Richard Reed Parry : Alright, just recovering from having COVID for the second time.

PAN M 360 :  Yeah I remember that you had the long COVID during the pandemic . So you’re recovering?

Richard Reed Parry : Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay. Just kind of low energy, but okay. It wasn’t too bad.  

PAN M 360 : So you’re actually rehearsing. What material exactly?

Richard Reed Parry : We only we only performed this once in Montreal with MSO, 2 years ago. So we’re just doing it this time with our ensemble, just us. We’ll also play some other old school pieces, too. And we’re in the middle of writing a bunch of new stuff, but we’re not, we’re not going to play any new stuff this time.

PAN M 360 : Without the symphonic arrangements, did you perform this material yet? 

Richard Reed Parry: Not here, we played a few shows in Europe. So we can do it both ways now. And it’s, it’s cool. It’s very different both ways. 

PAN M 360 : What are the main differences?

Richard Reed Parry : We can be sure a little looser, in a good way, we don’t have to worry about the orchestra getting lost. It’s such a bizarre way to have conceived the record. And then because it’s like the most loose way to write and record music, and then you go to the absolute tightest way of performing, which is with an orchestra where everything has to be measured. So musically there are so many little weird details then length of phrases and other things you have to replicate every time. But these are also kind of improvisational accidents in some parts, and okay, we’re taking this part longer, shorter, whatever. So it’s nice to be able to be back in that mindset and  not have to be super uptight about where we are at every single bar.

PAN M 360 : Yeah this music process is as its own specificity so it has to be considered in the interpretation.

Richard Reed Parry: Yeah, absolutely. With the orchestra,  we really have to be, say, more uptight, but we really must stay tuned in to exactly where we are rather than be close to the improvisational moments. So basically, the form of the whole thing is close to the recordings. And it’s still like the long arc during a live concert, but we can run with things for longer periods of time, if we’re really feeling something. Okay, we stay in the zone and we wait, okay, someone will give a signal and we move on to the next part, rather than we have to be watching the conductor when we play with a symphony orchestra. In another way, we must stay super aware all the time. In the context of the only band, our drummer is really juggling things, for example electronic percussive loops and other things that has to be really lined up for him. And then he’s cueing everybody and taking cues and a lot more of a wrestling match for the orchestra. Anyways, in the context of the only ensemble, it’s to be a little more relaxed.

PAN M 360 : So what is the line-up?

Richard Reed Parry : This is the same line-up we have for  Pietro Amato ( french horn, keyboards, electronics), Michael Feuerstack (pedal steel guitar, keyboards, vocals), Kaveh Nabatian (trumpet, gongoma, keyboards, vocals), Sarah Neufeld (violin, vocals), Stefan Schneider (drums) and myself  (bass, vocals).

PAN M 360 : Then after,  you are about to create a new corpus of pieces.

Richard Reed Parry : We’re kind of in mid mid stream with a lot of a lot of new material. But we’re  developing everything a little bit all the time, so nothing is close to being finished. But we will all be working  together in November, we’re gonna be doing some work on this one new stuff.  So it’ll be an album within a year. A few members are now parents, it’s our biggest challenge to make it happen.

PAN M 360 : Other projects?

Richard Reed Parry : I’m doing I’ve been really doing a lot of that I’ve got like, two, two features, kind of big, big features that are both coming out in the winter in December, and then scoring another documentary. Right now. I have two more River of Dust volumes that are almost done. I have this string trio (with Sarah Neufeld on violin, Rebecca Foon on cello, me on upright bass) that I made two years ago during the pandemic that’s finally going to come out sometime this winter. It’s going to be one little independent, is going to put it out. Also there will be this project I started with my friend Dallas Good of the Sadies. When he died (winter ot 2022), I tried to finish it with close friends and artists like the great Buffy Sainte Marie. So yeah, like my hands are very, very full. A lot of music.

BELL ORCHESTRE SE PRODUIT CE JEUDI, 19H, ENTREPÔT 77, DANS LE CADRE DE POP MONTRÉAL

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