One the highlights of NXNE and calming gifted pleasures in general seeps from one name – Mr. Chad VanGaalen. Appearing on Canada’s Q TV, a booked European tour and landing top status on the learshot charts—the west-coast troboudour’s stunning artistic ability is one that stretches beyond just the mic.

VanGaalen is also a celebrated visual artist, renowned for his illustration and animation work. Take Diaper Island for example, all the artwork (just like with previous albums) was illustrated by Chad himself.

Skelliconnection Album Artwork

Soft Airplane Album Artwork

Oh, and he just so happens to have an exhibit occurring right now in Amsterdam. Check out some of the work here.

Key to note is CVG has already animated music videos for the likes of J Mascis, Guster and Holy Fuck with a collective view count of over a million looks on YouTube.

Two times shortlisted for the Polaris Prize (Skelliconnection [2007], Soft Airplane [2009]), the basement dweller continues to summon celebratory praise through his gorgeous sincerity and cautious simplicity.

Diaper Island is the latest album from VanGaalen and has already received 4-star notoriety from UNCUT and The Daily Telegraph.

So, what exactly is a Diaper Island?

“It’s a metaphor for how much trash you produce over your lifetime – everyone has their own sort of island,” VanGaalen states.

A self-proclaimed recluse, VanGaalen feeds wholesome spoonfuls of music joy, even if he claims he’s a “terrible” performer.

Speaking with CVG is one of those experiences where even your speech becomes slower and all you want to do is listen. Here’s a recap of some of the good stuff the Calgarian is doing – from his life as a dad to his obsession with gardening. Read on.

Let’s first talk about Calgary – what is the scene like there – what has it been like being a musician in Calgary?
Well, it’s getting better, it’s somewhat of a black hole in a way. It has a lot of good people and good artists, but they tend to move away so there really isn’t that safety net. I feel like as soon as a band gets signed then they tend to move on and rightfully so, it’s not really a good or a bad thing. Then again I don’t get out much so I hear about it vicariously through others.

You’re someone who is into art and drawing as well as music – can you explain these facets of your life?
Ya, I went through printmaking – I really wanted to take drawing, but my grades weren’t high enough. I just like to draw stuff. I’m self-taught and hopefully my next project is a screenplay with an animated full-length feature or something. It will probably take 15 years.

You like to do things on your own, eh?
I just don’t like battling with people, and I think people are lazy and at the end of the day I just want it done.

Do you think it is important for artists to branch out and not get ‘pigeon holed’ in certain genres / fields?
Sometimes it’s hard for me to be an illustrator – animator – producer – and a dad, I’m slowly bringing it all together. It’s cool though, modern storytelling is very visual and everyone can relate to that art.

How do you think your creativity translates on stage?
I’m a horrible performer – I’m fucking terrible (laughing). It’s like oh ya right it’s time for me to be good at something. I mean when I’m drawing it’s not like oh ya it’s ten o’clock, I’m supposed to be good at drawing now. It’s a weird thing.

So this is all a fluke?
Well I wasn’t writing songs to be a musician – I was more about forming a sound collage and drones and then Ian (Chad’s manager) kinda compiled the songs onto the first record. I had never played live or anything, I started busking the street, did that for about a year – there was so much pressure to be good.

How long ago was that?
About 6 years ago.

So, is it worth it for you?
No, most of the time no, just in the sense that I don’t think it is the most effective way to get the story out there. It just seems weird to me (but then again I get weirded out pretty easily ha). Sometimes I just have to say “ok man just calm down.” I think now that I have kids I am WAY more sensitive to those things you take for granted.

Do you enjoy writing?
I am a pretty bad writer. I have a real problem reading in general because I fall asleep really really easily. Someone told me it’s the ambient light off the page, I dunno – it’s actually quite frustrating to be honest because I want to read stuff. My wife reads to me, which is good, but can be difficult cause you are bound to that person who is reading, but anywaaayyyys. I’ve made kids books and illustrated so that’s good.

What would make YOU happy for the next 5 years?
I want to hang out with my kids. My big thing for the winter is getting this gardening thing going – I want to get this solarium up and going before it gets cold. I’ve gotten really into gardening and I want my kids to have that experience, growing their own food and all. I’m working on this solarium so I can grow vegetables all winter. If I can get that going then I can be more sustainable. It seems so messed you know, it’s work, but it’s just about being smarter about living and all.

I feel like we are in this comfort zone in that we are living in this weird kind of luxury (see I sound like a dad). I just want to pass on real information to my kids, especially because I have two girls and I really want to relay the right information to them especially with how messed up popular culture is now.

Chad VanGaalen’s sensual stories strike an inner chord not often grazed, one that is exposed on those special occasions. In this case those occasions can be daily.

What Others Are Saying:

“… like heaven with clouds, Chad VanGaalen’s folk is dark and heavy as the promise of saving a storm that never comes to Diaper Island.”
20 Minutes (France)

“Beguiling, and destined to grow in stature with every listen”
– The Skinny (UK)

“women the world over will surely be swoonin’.”
THE HOUR (4/5)

“a fully focused (and fantastic) collection of tone-questing guitar rock, borne upon love songs, squealy jams and lighters-raised ballads.”

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