by Will Yannacoulias
One of the ways modern popular music has evolved has been the increased accessibility of the means of producing music. The advent of affordable electric instruments meant three or four friends could perform and record, marking the decline of big bands and orchestras. The rise of small clubs and festivals increasingly put performances in the control of fans and fellow musicians. The proliferation of independent record labels and radio stations meant that artists could produce, promote and manage themselves, weakening the grip of major record labels and allowing alternative, experimental music to flourish outside of commercial restraints. The latest chapter in this story is the ongoing digital music revolution. Armed with as little as a smartphone and an internet connection, artists are now able to produce high quality music through various studio software programs, distribute their work through myriad streaming music platforms, and promote themselves globally on social media. Label executives, talent scouts and commercial distributors, the long established gatekeepers of the music industry, have been circumvented and ignored as the link between artists and audiences has become increasingly direct. That modern spirit of digital DIY is perfectly embodied in Prince Albert musician, songwriter & producer Patrick Moon Bird.
Bird’s music has been described as LoFi, Chillwave or Downtempo. Hip hop drum loops, lush jazz guitar and warm bass lines are embellished with keyboards and samples. Many of the songs are instrumental arrangements, but when Bird sings his sleepy, subdued vocals are mesmerizing. Songs build slowly, never cresting or climaxing, just grooving along at their own measured, relaxed pace. No one element is forced to the forefront; each instrument, each part is deftly mixed to support the restrained, patient vibe characteristic of Bird’s style. The result is soft, sweet and dreamy, sparse, chill and very, very cool.
Now 26 years old, Bird began playing the guitar at the age of nine, coming from a musical family. His creative start was playing with Prince Albert metal band Dreadship from 2012-2014. “After a few years I just got sick of the whole band life” disclosed Bird, “living out of a car, drugs, alcohol”. A move to Cumberland House in 2014 saw him invest his energy into a solo metal project, Red Clay Earth, and coincided with his first foray away from conventional guitar driven rock & metal and into jazz and LoFi sounds. A project with his sister Demetria Bird, The Dead Talk, began in 2016 and garnered airtime on MBC Radio. In 2018 Bird entered his song “Streetlights” into the CBC Searchlight competition, after which he began to reinvent his sound. “I started mixing electronic music with my rock music, which followed into learning to play jazz guitar instead of rock guitar, which was a big transition for me. After that I started getting heavy into the LoFi, started writing and producing on my own.”
The result of that musical growth can be heard on Bird’s two full length albums, 2019’s Useless and 2020’s Useful. Useless garnered critical recognition, earning nominations at the Saskatchewan Music Awards for Best Electronic Album and Best Indigenous Album, as well as making the long list for 2019 Best Saskatchewan Album. With over forty tracks between the two releases, and at least as many singles, collaborations and side projects on various streaming services, Bird’s catalogue is impressive.
Bird has taken an unorthodox approach to promoting his music and carving out his place in the larger music scene. Without the option of touring and live performance, social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a big part of how he connects with his audience. Lo Fi バイブ , an important Facebook page for the LoFi music community, brings a lot of listeners to Bird. “I have a couple buddies that run it, the page has something like 200,000 people that like it. Whenever I release a track I’ll share it onto that page.” Instagram is another platform that has brought Bird’s work a lot of recognition. Well known makeup artist & influencer Michelle Phan, who boasts an audience of over 9 million subscribers, used one of Bird’s tracks in an Instagram video in August 2019. That track, a remix of “Midnight Densetsu”, has combined for over half a million plays on Spotify and Youtube and brought him a number of new listeners.
Another important aspect of Bird’s wide appeal is the many artists he works alongside. The far-flung roster of his collaborators includes Illinois- based Tatl Tael, Florida’s Subsolar, California’s Stux.io and producer cursedearvy.jpeg & rapper Clue, both Australian. These collaborations came about when Bird was invited to join the prestigious Dreamscape Lofi Collective. “Dreamscape LoFi is a collective of artists from around the world. We’re trying to get together, produce together, collab together. After the ‘Moonlight Densetsu’ remix blew up, Tatl Tael asked if I’d like to join the crew, introduced me to the other artists. We started a group chat on Facebook and just talk to each other all the time.”
Closer to home, a collaboration with fellow Prince Albert singer-songwriter LJ Tyson is on the horizon. “I’m very excited to work with Patrick” Tyson told NSMZ. “He has a very interesting outlook on how he produces music. The potential track we are doing is very much in his style, and I’m excited to bring my songwriting and vocals to that!”
Patrick Moon Bird’s unique, brilliant style, extensive network of collaborators and prolific output ensure that his diverse, expanding audience will always be rewarded with fresh and innovative music. Armed with seemingly unlimited creativity, talent and resourcefulness, there’s no limit to what Bird can achieve, and no question that he will achieve it on his own terms.
Patrick Moon Bird’s recommended artists:
City Girl Joji Idealism Tatl Tael Mounika
- All photos by Deann Roos of Contingent Colours Photography