With a career lasting longer than two decades Montreal based artist All Is Well has seen the lows and highs in life even though he doesn’t measure his own career in terms like this. His second and latest EP ‘Fragments’ certainly belongs to one of the musical highlights of 2018 as ‘Is It (Version 1)’ and ‘Jarry‘ have been heavilysupported by scene’s heavyweights. Nevertheless the Montrealer remains as humble as always, appreciates the moment and focuses on producing new music as he, according to himself, has not produced the best track he could have since music or the profession he choseis a field in which you never ‘arrive’. In an all intimate interview All Is Well tells Torture the Artist far more than just about the basic facts regarding his EP but lets us take part in his chain of thoughts about what characterizes him as an artist and how he perceives music. Furthermore he gives us some insights on how ‘Fragments‘ on Drumpoet came about and what impact living in London as well as Scandinavian-looking song titles like ‘Sajkvighosgo’ have on him.
There is no expectations from myself or others so that leaves more space for a blank canvas.
Torture the Artist: Hello Frederic, tell us something about your day.
All Is Well: Today was the usual day before I leave for the weekend. I was finishing things in the studio, preparing music for the weekend and packing. Now I’m on my flight to Paris for my debut DJ Set as All Is Well with Trentemøllerand I’m excited for that.
Torture the Artist: ‘All Is Well’ is a new moniker of yours, to what extend does it reveal something about your person and how you perceive life/ things in general, or was the name born out of the blue without much of a background story to it?
All Is Well: It was born out of a need to express myself freely with the pre-conceptions of the moniker I’m most known for. There is no expectations from myself or others so that leaves more space for a blank canvas. I’ve been making ambient music for myself since the early 90’s, and it was time to let that side of me speak. A lot of the All Is Well tracks started with no beats.
I make a lot of music that doesn’t fit my other moniker’s ‘agenda‘or style, and it made more sense to create a brand new clean slate with All Is Well.
Torture the Artist: Throughout your career as a DJ, producer and label head you have probably witnessed a lot, meaning positive as well as negative things, and without a doubt your EP, ‘Fragments’, up to date probably belongs to the positive things in your life. What made you decide to release it under All Is Well name in the first place?
All Is Well: As I mentioned before, I wanted to be free from expectations. It not only allows me to create differently but also allows people to listen with a different set of ears. This is actually my second EP under that name but I took a 4 year break in between. I make a lot of music that doesn’t fit my other moniker’s ‘agenda‘or style, and it made more sense to create a brand new clean slate with All Is Well. All the music starts from experimenting with synths and sequences.
Torture the Artist: What’s a memory/ story that immediately pops up in your mind when speaking of a track of yours from the ‘Fragments EP’?
All Is Well: If I think of ‘Jarry’, that was done in collaboration with a friend of mine who came to dinner one night with a pile of new age records. We sampled a bunch of them and I wrote a basic track quickly around it to fit the mood.
Alex and Ron have open ears for this kind of music. They like music that it is personal and honest, without thinking of the commercial success of it.
Torture the Artist: The five tracks were released on Zurich based label Drumpoet Community. What tracks did you send Alex and Ron first and why was the label the right spot for your newly creates musical approach?
All Is Well: I sent them pretty much the whole EP right away. The only track I added last minute was ‘Inertia‘as it was the last one I did and felt it was a good conclusion on the EP. I released two EPs with Drumpoet before and I know that Alex and Ron have open ears for this kind of music. They like music that it is personal and honest, without thinking of the commercial success of it.
It looked like one of those Scandinavian song title I see all the time.
Torture the Artist: ‘Sajkvighosgo’ –is that the result of hitting letters on your keyboard with both hands in a moment of anger as the letters are pretty close to each other, or how did this track-title come about?
All Is Well: You’re the first one to actually figure it out! Although, I wasn’t angry. I had to come up with a name when I saved and I just hit random keys and liked what I saw, so I kept it. It looked like one of those Scandinavian song title I see all the time.
Torture the Artist: What relationship do you have to Scandinavian music as you said that you see those song titles all the time?
All Is Well: I’ve been going to Oslo since the late 90’s and visited all the Scandinavian countries many times since. Canada often gets the easy comparison to Scandinavia because of our climate and social policies. Been a big fan of their twisted disco and sound since the early days. People like Rune Lindbaeck (Those Norwegians), Erot and labels such as Svek were big blueprints for me. I also love what’s going on today with the Todd Terje, Prins Thomas and co.
Torture the Artist: Two of the EP’s tracks, ‘Is It (Version 1)’ and ‘Jarry’, have gained massive support within the scene. With the experience of a more than two decade lasting career in the music business, how surprising has the success of the tracks been to you?
All Is Well: Quite surprising actually, seeing as how it took me a little while to get this project off the ground and actually sent those tracks first to the two main supporters and didn’t receive any feedbacks. It was an immense honour to see all these videos. The first one was from the Innervisions party at Royal Albert Hall in London where Dixon and Amé played two of my tracks in their short 12 tracks set. It gave me pride and confidence in this new venture.
It’s a rollercoaster. But I’m a lifer.
Torture the Artist: After so many years in the business have you realized a fade of joy or a more routined dealing with positive reactions or feedback to your music?
All Is Well: It’s a rollercoaster. But I’m a lifer. This is what I chose to do and I take responsibility in that, enjoying the highs and weathering the lows. The important thing is to keep busy and creative and also have a fulfilling personal life.
Torture the Artist: Would you say that the All Is Well project is a new high in your career? Also what would you say was a low and how did you overcome it.
All Is Well: While I’m happy with the initial reaction, I don’t really consider it as a new high. I don’t really measure things that way. I’m not interested in lows and highs. What interests me is longevity.
Whatever you do, you ain’t sh*t.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of a long lasting career, in which year of your artistic creativity could you imagine to live again, and why?
All Is Well: I wouldn’t want to go back, I’m happy where I am and look to the future. But I have fond memories of the late 90’s when my career started. I spent a lot of time in London, and that was a real teacher for me.
Torture the Artist: What did London teach you that you had not known before?
All Is Well: That whatever you do, you ain’t sh*t. Getting to hang with such wonderfully talented people and seeing how humble they were really taught me a lot. I also learned so much about music in general. Great general culture of music of all kinds there.
I’m convinced that I haven’t done my best work yet, and this is also what drives me to push forward.
Torture the Artist: What kind of track do you want to produce that you have not done yet?
All Is Well: The best ones. I’m convinced that I haven’t done my best work yet, and this is also what drives me to push forward. I’m lucky to be versatile so who knows what the future holds.
Torture the Artist: Besides producing the best tracks possible, are there any genres or influences you would like to focus on with new productions?
All Is Well: I want to continue exploring with ambient music and integrate more acoustic instruments in the equation.
Torture the Artist: You recently moved into a new home and studio in your hometown Montreal. Moves present the opportunity to tidy out. What items did not make it to your new studio, which ones would you never want to sort out and lastly what hidden treasures did you find in your old studio after cleaning?
All Is Well: I keep a fairly tight set up, although I always feel like I have too much. I moved back to Montreal after eight years living in San Francisco eight years ago, so I didn’t really have time to hoard much. Mostly it’s based around a few choice Mono and Poly synths and drum machines.
Torture the Artist: What made you move to San Francisco in the first place and how did the city as well as the subcultural scene shape you personally and musically?
All Is Well: A need for change and expansion, both personal and professional. I already had great links and friendship there, so it was an easy decision. San Francisco is a very magical place on so many level and It will stay with me forever.
Torture the Artist: What’s a sound/instrument you could always use in one of your tracks, because you never get bored of it?
All Is Well: I think there’s always an instance of Moog, either the Model D, Voyager or Minitaur and also something from the Prophet 6 or OB6.
Torture the Artist: Let’s speak about your hometown, what role does electronic music play in Montreal’s nightlife and do you hold the part of a pioneer?
All Is Well: I’ve been away for almost a decade and I haven’t totally reconnected with the local scene. I only DJ here a few times a year. I hope this can change next year. Hoping to get a live set for All Is Well going and would definitely want to present it in my home town first.
Torture the Artist: What’s a club/location in Montreal that every electronic music enthusiast should visit at least once, and why?
All Is Well: It’s fair to say that Stereo had been the longest lasting institution in Montreal, that also cares a lot about great sound. Salon Daomé would be a close second for a bar destination.
Torture the Artist: You are currently touring Europe for two weeks, what besides the memories do you take back home and what regarding the nightlife and music do you wish could be adapted in your hometown and vice versa?
All Is Well: No matter how long I’ve been doing this, I take every gig or travel as a brand new experience and don’t take anything for granted or expect anything. It’s hard for me to compare as I don’t get to play locally much.
Torture the Artist: What items do you always have to have in your hand-luggage?
All Is Well: I never check in luggage, so everything is hand luggage for me. As for my back pack, there’s always a book, an iPod Classic 160gb full, iPad with magazines, movies and podcasts, my computer/hard drives and some healthy bars to snack on when I don’t have time to have breakfast. I often get the first flight home in the morning.
It’s a lifelong process, and you never fully ‘arrive’.
Torture the Artist: What’s the thing most people think they understand about being an artist but don’t?
All Is Well: It’s a lifelong process, and you never fully ‘arrive’. This could be discouraging for some, but for people who are in there for the right reason, it’s encouraging. It means that there is always hope.
Torture the Artist: Why are you crossing borders?
All Is Well: On the literal term: to meet people and experience other cultures and other points of view. Speaking metaphorically, to extend my own creativity.
Torture the Artist: Thanks for the chat.
Interview by Holger Breuer