Joseph Shabason | The Family Interviews

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Meet Joseph Shabason

Do you like texture, ambiance, and new age noise? Of course you do, it’s 2019. We like weird sounds. Thankfully Joseph Shabason does too. This Canadian saxophonist trades in ear worms, friends. But not that sticky sort of gunk that gets stuck-in between your ears and annoys the hell out of you. With synths and woodwinds, Shabason gifts us with atmospheric foggy goodness that will carry your mind, body and soul off into a heady land of haziness.

Fresh off his latest release Anne, we called this ambient master up to discuss everything from capes, genres, and legs.

Ch-ch-check it out below:


Our School:

A MAD-LIB By Joseph Shabason

OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL FLATULENCE is one of America's FUNKIEST institutions of PORTLY learning. The student body is composed of 8 males and 420 SEWERS The SEWERS get the best grades. Students can eat lunch in the TROUBLED cafeteria, which features boiled CHILDREN and VULTURE sandwiches, with all the GACK they can drink, for only 74 cents. The principal of the school, PARIS HILTON, is raising money to build a new TAXI laboratory and a new DEAD DEAR. Any student who goes to this school can consider himself very HORLY.


Would you rather have to wear a very long cape for the rest of your life, or boots and gloves? Please explain why.

Easy and boring answer: Cape because it is easy breezy. I’d be so hot wearing boots and gloves in the summer. A cape is a year round accessory.


What kind of music was playing in your home when you were growing up? Do you think It shaped the kind of music you are making today?

My father is a jazz piano player so I mostly grew up on jazz and afro-cuban jazz. I heard Dreams by Fleetwood Mac for the first time when I was 24 years old…which is to say that I had a pretty atypical musical upbringing. He’d often have rehearsals at our house with his bands so I learned the words to a ton of standards just through osmosis. I 100% feel like it influenced the kinds of harmonic and melodic choices that I find interesting now when I sit down to write music.

Do you have a piece of musical gear that you have been into lately?

YES! I recently got a Waldorf Q and it has been blowing my mind. I feel like every patch is a new song idea. It’s just so cold and digital while still maintaining some kind of weird idiosyncratic warmth. I’ve also been fucking with an Octatrack and for my live show it has been a total gamechanger.


If you could go back and record the score for one motion picture which would it be? Why?

Whoa…big question! TBH I don’t know that I would actually want to rescore anything. All the scores that I dislike are the ones that are really emotionally leading and don’t let you feel things for yourself….like almost all of the scores for the more modern Spielberg movies…but I don’t have the chops to score a movie like that. I just wish they were a bit less emotionally manipulative. I’d love to rescore Deadman just because it’s so beautiful and I think it would be a blast. Neil’s score is perfect so I wouldn’t touch a note of it…but it would be fun to try something totally different.

What do you think about genres? Are they limiting, or do they provide a helpful frame of reference?

Both? I mean they can be great from an exploratory standpoint in that you can use them as a framework to check out other musicians who exist in the same world as what you are listening to. But I do think that a pitfall of genre is that if you start to classify your music as one particular genre you might feel less free to experiment and stray from that genre’s trappings. It’s something that I have definitely fallen prey to over the years and it’s really limited my creative output. I think that that fact that I can’t really describe the genre of the music I make is good thing….it definitely touches on a bunch of different well-defined genres but I kind of think of it as an amalgam of all of them rather than fitting neatly into just one genre classification.

What have been your favorite albums to come out this year?

Jessica Pratt Quiet Signs, Rosalia El Mal Querer, Meitei Komachi, Les Halles Zepher, JAB Erg Herbe,…..Maybe none of those have even come out this year but they are the most modern albums that I’ve been listening to

What is your favorite restaurant to go to? What do you get there?

Peaceful Noodle in Vancouver. I get the Dan Dan Noodles, Garlic Eggplant and fried green beans.


Do you have a favorite chord? If you do, why is it your favorite?

Ha! Probably not…but if I had to pick it would be a Major 7 add 9.

What kind of messages do you try to get across with your sound?

I don’t think I really try and get any particular messages across with my sound but with the music I make I do try and get certain ideas across. Musically I really try and think about patience and repetition and how you can convey so much in small ,subtle changes. With the last two LPs that I’ve made I also try and explore issues that have deep meaning to me…the two big ones are doctor assisted dying and degenerative illness. They aren’t what I’m trying to convey all the time but I‘m stoked that I found a way to express those feelings and concepts in a way that felt meaningful and not overly heavy or dramatic. I think that in exploring such big and heavy concepts there is a real risk of having things come across as heavy handed or corny and as far as I can tell I managed to avoid those pitfalls.

Do you drink coffee or tea? How do you take it?

Coffee. Black.

How many legs are too many legs?

If there are too many legs of a tour your life is gonna be piss for a long time….so I’d say 4 legs is  my max. 

Any final comments? (This is your electronic soapbox for one last answer.)

Caregiver burnout is a very real thing and if anyone out there is experiencing it please find me on facebook or Instagram and I’m always down to talk. Without a support network taking care of someone with an illness can get very overwhelming and talking to someone who can empathize can really change your whole life and make you feel less isolated. XOX

Sean Maldjian