Unless you've lived under a rock for the past eighteen months, we wouldn't need to spell out to you that everything suddenly changed in March 2020, as 'lockdown' very suddenly became part of our collective vernacular. It was a time of unprecedented change for all of us and 'stress' could almost be the sole descriptor of our then continual adaptation to the moving markers of a new normal.
For music producer and composer, Factor Chandelier, the lockdown of last spring was just the beginning; as things worsened for the Saskatoon artist, when his recording studio suffered a flood at the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, compounding the stressors of an already difficult to navigate period of time.
But, navigate he did, using this calamity as a catalyst for creating "Eastlake", an album that would go on to win the Hip Hop Artist of the Year 2020 award from SaskMusic; a huge vindication for something that began as a creation of catharsis to relieve the stress of it all.
Eastlake was one of two solo project albums that FC released in 2020, the other title being First Storm.
Eastlake album artwork
To find out more about the creation of Eastlake, navigating that tough time, and what makes him tick, I caught up with Factor Chandelier. See our chat below:
MARK: Factor Chandelier, thanks for joining us. 2020 was a big year for you, aside from your role as a producer, you wrote, recorded and published two solo albums of your own. What was that experience like?
FACTOR CHANDELIER: 2020 has 100% been one of the most bizarre, interesting, and unorthodox years for releasing and making new music. With First Storm I recorded it pre-pandemic and I can't say I did it all myself, I have a very supportive label (Fake Four Inc. / Side Road Records) and amazing collaborators on that album. Eastlake was a whole different vibe, locked in the basement in the middle of winter and a pandemic lol. I would say the hardest part was not being able to do any shows/tours or events to promote the records and connect with fans. I am really looking forward to doing a big combination show for all the latest music ASAP, I just got my second vax shot today, hopefully soon enough we will be in venues digesting art again.
M: I understand that the album Eastlake was somewhat a cathartic experience for you, a way to creatively vent the feelings - and move on - from a flood that damaged your studio during Saskatchewan's lockdown at the onset of the pandemic. What was it like to produce an album under such a stressful set of circumstances?
FC: Eastlake is a record and sound that I will never be able to recreate again, it was such a weird uncertain time. So many things happened all at one, release shows cancelled, tours cancelled, world locked down, studio flood. I had to swing it into something and that something is Eastlake. I am proud of this record and it really shaped the direction for some of the newer material I am working on now. It really did feel like I needed to flush it out of my system to move forward. I think being able to work on something helped with the stress and was an artistic distraction if nothing else, some real emotions went into that one. Don't get me wrong I am very proud of that record and it has some jams on it, I'm curious where it will take me when I hear it after all this shit is over.
Studio flood damage
M: The reaction to both of your 2020 albums has been great, including winning the SaskMusic Award for Hip Hop Artist of the Year 2020. After having gone through what you went through to create Eastlake, how does the award win make you feel?
FC: Thanks! Getting the recognition during these times was a surprise and a very nice surprise. It has been really hard to gauge how the music is going and what is even happening in my world let alone my life or anyone else's so the fact people are digging it gets me hyped to perform and take the show on the road.
M: First and foremost you're a producer, helping other artists sculpt their records in the studio, but what can we expect from Factor Chandelier as his own solo act in the future?
FC: I am very excited for my new solo show, I have tons of new material to choose from and work with that no one has seen or heard live. I think it will bring some new listeners to First Storm and Eastlake and hopefully bring some listeners back to those albums for another check once they've experienced the music live. My main goal is to get on the road with someone I work with and can be the main support for/introduce our collaboration set. I will continue to do my dj/production show.
M: As a producer, you've helped nurture upcoming talent. That leads me to ask: What's the most valuable piece of advice you'd give to an upcoming musician reading this on how to advance their career?
FC: Something you can do as an upcoming artist is go to as many different shows and events in different genres and venues as you can to see how everyone gets down. It will give news ideas of things you maybe want to try or stay far away from.
Signed copies of Eastlake and First Storm can be found, on Vinyl, at Saskatoon's Collector's Edge Comics and Games. Alternatively, you can support Factor Chandelier directly through his Bandcamp.
Thank you to Factor Chandelier.