Eras II, or making music with friends

TL;DR – it’s the best

I was taught piano starting from before I could remember. I’m not a supremely talented pianist but I can get by. I think I lost a few years not understanding why I would bother playing dumb études and shit like that. And then one day I started playing with friends and all that changed. One was Pat Placzek, who I played with for decades. His last project was Zac Fanta, which is really incredible: Chris von Szombathy (check him out on instagram at @yupzone) is a powerhouse bass player and among the world’s most interesting artistic minds. Paul Banwatt was my battle partner in Woodhands for years. Drew Smith/Bunny ( is one of the purest songwriters I know. The list goes on…

I guess the point with all of this, along with the brief nostalgia trip that this has led me down, is that there’s nothing quite like music to connect you with people. What’s also fascinating is tracking how relationships predicated on music either whither or blossom even when you’re not making music together. And while making music and inserting yourself into the music industry includes all the predictable drama – angry blowups on tour, brief love affairs, “creative differences” and all of that stuff – sometimes it’s just the case that the only way you can connect with someone is by being in the same room as them and making music together. Sometimes that’s all you will ever be equipped to give or receive. And that’s a beautiful and bittersweet thing.

One of the brief but memorable projects I worked on was Ark Analog, which was made up of Maylee Todd, undefinable and incredible artist (IG: @mayleetodd). This video was the brainchild of another friend, the director Matt Swanson, who had a high-concept vision for this song which it took us an ungodly amount of time to actually shoot. But dude is a perfectionist. So of course it had to involve a set of twins, fully synchronized choreography, and capturing the perfect outdoor light. We got there, eventually, though Maylee looked pretty cold by the end of it.

Eras I.

Or, starting a catalogue of music projects.

The first album I ever bought was the Wayne’s World soundtrack on CD, mostly because my adolescent mind could not compute Tia Carrere. Her version of Ballroom Blitz was what I thought all music should aspire to. It was only many many years later that I actually started getting some taste. Not quickly enough to stop me from starting an acid jazz band in Montreal when everyone else was starting Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade, but hey. I wore it with (very funky white boy) pride.

I’ve been in a fair share of bands, some of which have brought me around the world. It’s great. Music is just the best.

Here’s one of my favorite songs and videos from my band Woodhands. The band was made up of me and Paul Banwatt; he drummed and I played synths and sang. Maylee Todd, who is a real star, was a frequent collaborator with the band and sings on this song. It’s called Dissembler and the video is a time capsule of a time in the Toronto music scene in the early 2010s when lots of bands were exploding. Check the video, directed by the extremely multitalented José Lourenço, for some fun cameos.