Noble Oak is the musical moniker of local musician Patrick Fiore who produces electronic music through an almost minimalist approachÂ to create light and dreamy atmospheres with a sharp emphasis on diverse beatwork, warm bass, and the manipulation of vocal samples. Here’s an interview we conducted with Noble Oak to find out more about his project.
Could you tell us something about yourself and how Noble Oak started?
“Iâ€™ve been doing music things for a while. When I was 5 I saw a piano for the first time and didnâ€™t shut up till I got one. By the time I was 16 Iâ€™d finished a bunch of lessons and stuff and started teaching piano, which was okay but the hours werenâ€™t great. So I started working at the airport and met Thom, who eventually invited me into his band 41st and Home after we had a ton of sexually charged musical bromance. Then after we did a bunch of shows and the Peak Project, we took a break and I managed to start my own thing.”
Where do you find inspiration for the type of songs you make under Noble Oak? What genre would you personally label your sound? If you were to describe your music in terms of ice cream flavours, what would it be?
“There are so many labels that exist for music these days, many which are made up to suit the sound that the artist createsâ€¦I feel like Iâ€™ve hopped onto that boat since Iâ€™ve been calling my music â€œdreamwaveâ€ or â€œdream â€˜nâ€™ bassâ€. Genre labels are silly anyway; I know Dan Deacon gets away with branding his music â€œbaltimore schlubâ€! Iâ€™d like to think my music takes on a rainbow sorbet flavour when it hits the frozen foods section. Iâ€™m something of a lactard so I canâ€™t always have ice cream. As for the primary source of inspiration: free time.”
What type of equipment do you usually use for your project and whatâ€™s your favourite recording program to use?
“Somehow Iâ€™ve managed to borrow nearly everything I needed to create music as Noble Oak. One friend didnâ€™t have enough room in his house for his Rhodes so Iâ€™ve been taking care of it, and another friend was kind enough to lend me his Fender strat. Another friendâ€™s dad has a super cool SM7 mic that Iâ€™ve recently acquired to escape using my laptopâ€™s. Other than that, I use synths that Iâ€™ve had from years past plus a bunch of sounds inside Live, which is where the recording and mixing gets done. I often feel limited by my equipment though, since the internal power of oneâ€™s DAW has an influence on the outcome. I feel like if I had FL studio in front of me I could make electro-house and get rich that way.”
How long does it usually take you to produce a song? It seems like you roll them out pretty quickly without breaking a sweat.
“At first I was convinced I needed to crank them out quickly so that I didnâ€™t over-analyze them to death, but I feel like that was just the sheer excitement of having sweet musical equipment in my tiny apartment for the first time. The No Bloke EP was conceived and recorded/produced more or less on the fly, from start to finish in 8 days. Since then Iâ€™ve found myself taking my time a bit more, but I still like some of the songs I made hastily. It still varies though, depending on what else I need to get done (homework). “Skyrunner” was the song that took the longest (about 6 days), but I managed to get “Fast Summer” done in 6 hours. Thereâ€™s also a hundred unfinished ones that Iâ€™ll hopefully finish one day.”
When was your first live debut as Noble Oak and whatâ€™s your live performance setup like?
“My first live show was on home turf at the UBC Pit Pub to an audience of mostly friends. I was extremely nervous about the whole thing and my setup definitely didnâ€™t make life easier. I have my songs divided into their main components and triggered with an APC40 Live controller. To add effects, my iPad runs the Lemur program (Daft Punk, Amon Tobin, etc.) that is mapped to wirelessly control effects inside Live. All this (laptop, controller, iPad, mixer) perches atop my large keyboard, which is running into Reason on my laptop. Since I have about 4 USB slots needed, I also have a little USB hub that sits next to the controller and has prevented more than a few headaches.”
What are your thoughts on Vancouverâ€™s music scene in general?
“I think there are tons and tons of untapped potential here, but many people are starting to notice the flair of places like Brooklyn and Montreal and fleeing to them immediately. Iâ€™ve lived in greater Vancouver my entire life and would definitely have a different perspective if I hadnâ€™t, but thereâ€™s something very enticing to me about this place and Iâ€™m really hoping some kind of massive music-scene revitalization brings the focus back here. People like Blood Diamonds, Teen Daze and Babe Rainbow are certainly making a splash when it comes to the electronica component of Vancouverâ€™s scene and I, for one, am not beginning to lose faith in it just yet.”
Whatâ€™s your favourite type of music to listen to and what were the last 3 albums that youâ€™ve bought or acquired?
“The people who know me will tell you how random my music taste is, but I guess since beginning my own electronic dream pop productions Iâ€™ve had more of a love for that side. I lose my brains to Born Gold (formerly Gobble Gobble) and Aphex Twin quite regularly, but lose my brains in a very different but equally intense way to Fleet Foxes and Oscar Peterson. Last 3 albums Iâ€™ve bought: Fleet Foxes â€“ Helplessness Blues, Braids â€“ Native Speaker (whose title makes me think of my linguist life) and Com Truise” â€“ Galactic Melt (to whom I attribute much of the inspiration for my earlier frantic, yet 85-bpm drum lines).
What are some Vancouver acts that youâ€™re really into at the moment and who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
“If Blood Diamonds were to agree to a collab, Iâ€™d probably end up knocking over most things in my apartment celebrating. His productions are, to me, the spotless gold standard that I strive for. Someone commented on his Soundcloud that â€œeverything [he makes] is like a sunset in a bubbleâ€, and thatâ€™s basically it. I also would certainly love to work with Teen Daze, having met him a few times through shows with my other band 41st and Home, heâ€™s a terrific dude. I clean my house to Oh No! Yoko because itâ€™s intense and extreme and I feel like a 13 year-old killing stuff.”
Do you have any upcoming or future plans for Noble Oak? More live shows, an album, or a tour?
“I have some things planned, but I like to keep quiet till theyâ€™re ready. Iâ€™ve been offered to play a few shows down in the US, and Iâ€™d really like to pursue that in the summer. Not to mention just doing a bunch of shows around Vancouver and hopefully the island.”
What do you like to do when youâ€™re not making music under Noble Oak?
“When Iâ€™m not doing that and when Iâ€™m not doing school stuff (UBC likes play around with the emotions of its linguistics students) or bussing tables at a restaurant Iâ€™m probably chillin’ with my cat or skiing or driving somewhere to be with friends.”