Joseph Shabason: The ‘Monday Is Okay’ Mix


Today's Monday mix comes courtesy of Canadian saxophonist Joseph Shabason, a longtime member of Dan Bejar's Destroyer outfit and founding member of electronic pop band DIANA. Out 25th August on Western Vinyl, Shabason's debut album Aytche explores the fertile ground at the intersection of minimalism and jazz, making detours into ambient, new age and even a glimpse of the pop sphere.

The healing properties of this mix should be much appreciated by those of you who are recovering from a heavy weekend or, like Shabason, a stressful three week tour. From Gigi Masin and Alice Coltrane to Midori Takada and Roberto Cacciapaglia, dive in below:

Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you, what are you?

Hi. My name is Joseph Shabason. I’m a musician from Toronto, Ontario, Canada… I play sax/flute/clarinet and love to mess around with synths, samples and FX.

Tell us about the Monday mix you’ve put together for us.

I just got back from a pretty grueling three week tour that basically did a loop around North America. There was so much driving and sitting in a cramped van that after a while I think we all started to lose our minds a bit… So I made a mix that serves two purposes:

1) Healing. All the music that I chose feels gentle and soothing and is what I want to listen to as I sit and drink a coffee in the morning in my garden.

2) This mix is also made up of songs that couldn’t be heard properly over the noise of the van’s engine. During a lot of those 8 hour drives all I wanted was to listen to some music that would put me at ease… but every time we put on anything that was even slightly ambient it got lost over the noise of the van and the highway. This mix is made up up of all the songs that got swallowed up by the din of tour.

Where was it recorded?

In my home studio in a neighbourhood called The Junction Triangle.

Can you draw what you think it sounds like?

No… but here is a picture of how it makes me feel…

If it were a food what would it be?

It’s a healthy breakfast after three weeks of eating like shit.

What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?

Listen with headphones on a walk by yourself somewhere that has some greenery.

What should we be wearing?

Whatever makes you feel most like yourself… or Adidas running shorts.

Are you on the same wavelength as the Boomtown Rats or do you actually like Mondays?

I have nothing against Mondays.

Who got you hooked on electronic music?

I’m not sure if any one person got me hooked on electronic music… I think my love of electronic music came out of DJing dance parties and really digging for good mainstream pop music. It took me a few years to branch out from straight up synth-pop and '80s pop but after a while I fell in love with synthesizers and just wanted to listen to anything that sounded weird and challenging. Once I discovered Eno in my mid 20s it was game over tho… so maybe he got me hooked on electronic music. My final answer is Brian Eno.

What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?

If you wanna get real about this my answer is gonna be deeply uncool. I think that the first electronic music I listened to was The Postal Service’s album back in 2003. I’d like to think that my tastes have matured since then but before 2003 all I listened to was punk, emo, hardcore and jazz. My dad only listened to jazz, my mom hated listening to music and I was really into punk/heavier-music so I never got exposed to electronic music or really any mainstream pop music until way later in life. I heard the song 'Dreams' by Fleetwood Mac for the first time when I was 25.

What were the first and last records you bought?

First: La Bamba Soundtrack

Last: Arve Hendriksen

If you were trapped on a desert island with one other person, who would you choose? How long would it be before you ate them?

I’d choose my wife Kate because I love her more than anyone else… and anyone who knows us knows that Kate would be the one who survives the longest. I’ve got a lot of fight in me… but Kate’s willpower and ingenuity will win out every time.

How does your brain work when you're making music? How does it work when you aren’t?

Whoa! Good question.

Let’s start with when I’m not making music:

I have really bad ADHD. That means that in general my mind is always moving a mile a minute. I am thinking about a million things at once. My leg is shaking constantly. My focus is being split and pulled in many different directions. I constantly get distracted… sometimes in the middle of conversations. I’m very high functioning with my ADHD… but fuck a duck would I ever like to be able to just chill out.

When I am making music:

I can focus for longer periods of time which is a huge plus. Instead of constantly being distracted by what’s around me I am content to just sit and focus in on one thing for a long period of time. I also use music to force me to be patient… without a doubt, impatience is my worst quality so with the more minimal ambient music I make I really try and see how sparse and repetitive I can make things before I feel the need to add another sonic texture. The need to constantly add new elements to songs/work/life/friendships in order for things to feel vital has been a huge hurdle to get over (still not over) and music gives me a zone to really force myself to try and be patient and embrace minimalism.

What are you obsessed with at the moment?

Chapo Trap House

What's your answer to everything?

President’s Choice Low Sodium Club Soda

Anything else we need to discuss?

I have nothing of any real importance to say but I think that this is worth discussing and reading:

Aytche is out 25th August on Western Vinyl, pre-order it here.

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