Olivier Clements blasts jazz with a dissonant twist at Hermann's March 5.

Olivier Clements blasts jazz with a dissonant twist at Hermann's March 5.

The dissonant history behind a new octet in town

Jazz with a hip hop esthetic through an indie-folk lens

Olivier Clements remembers well the last moment of May 27, 2013, as it slipped away from him and seven of his friends. They had been holed up in Revolution Recording studios in Toronto during Clements’ only evening off on a tour with Aidan Knight. The six feverish hours that ended the day – a collision of sweat and swearing, of Clements’ hip-hop, indie and classically-influenced compositions with his jazz school friends – yielded the richly-layered, engulfing flow of Olivier Clements & Dissonant Histories.

“Literally at 12:01, the engineer’s like: ‘Time’s up. We’re done.’ That was that,” says Clements, back at home in Victoria after one frenetic recording session and six months of post-production.

The categorically-challenging six-track disc is a project that wouldn’t have happened had one of his friends in the studio that night not pushed him to record. Colin Nealis, Knight bandmate and assumably the namesake of Histories’ “Colin’s Always Better Than Me” had seen Clements’ previous attempt to record his octet-backed flugelhorn tracks off the floor at Hermann’s last April. The plan was simple enough: do show, make recording, land grants, live dream. Yet this strategy didn’t account for variables. Equipment malfunction meant not one note recorded.

“What am I going to do? I can’t get press; I can’t do anything without recordings. I might as well get everyone from that show together, have a little Zoom mike, record it and go from there,” says Clements, who was about to leave on an Eastern Canadian tour with Knight at the time.

The new plan, though not terribly different from its predecessor, suddenly appeared too rushed for Clements. He called Nealis.

Nealis made a strong argument: Instead of getting a mediocre rushed recording, they would use their extra day on tour to assemble their friends, established musicians in Toronto, and make something good. They would invest some money and do it the right way.

“He really convinced me that if I half ass it, I won’t be happy with it and it’ll be useless. Then I said I don’t have any money.”

So with a $1,000 loan from Nealis – credited with upright bass and executive production of the record – and the studio time booked, it wasn’t long before Clements, a 2010 graduate of Humber College’s jazz program, handed over to his former classmates the result of nine months alone at a piano with his very black coffee.

“Every note was written out top to bottom in a giant stack of paper. I dropped it on the table and said: ‘Go nuts.’”

Three hours of sound checking and three hours of recording formed the basis of what Clements hears now as a stepping stone, a launching point.

“There was a week when I liked it,” he says. “It’s hard for me to listen to the record without feeling a little nauseous, but at the same time, I’m really proud for that to have been my first swing at the recording thing.”

The guiding principal behind his music, he says, is a desire to reconcile his influences.

“I play almost exclusively with indie-folk bands and that have a very specific feel. My roll in those bands and the way the music is created is unique, but I also love hip hop. I adore that kind of music and it’s a completely different set of musical values and esthetic. And I went to school for jazz, so I have that whole baggage with me. It’s not trying to mash all those things together, but say where do I fit in all of this? And then create music that doesn’t suck.”

And trumping all other influences, is the one closest to home – as in, within his own.

Clements’ father, Gordon Clements is the former head of Jazz Studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, multi instrumental classical and jazz performer and festival adjudicator. Add to that resumé bass clarinetist for Dissonant Histories – including when they take on Mad Villain, Q-Tip and perhaps some Portishead at the CD release show March 5.

“I grew up watching him perform, in his footsteps, if you will. He taught me everything I know, so for me to be able to write music and say: ‘Play it like this,’ is awesome. … “It brings a completely different energy to the stage when there’s this weird father-son thing going on.”

While Clements writes with his dad’s sound in mind for bass clarinet, his compositions are very much his own creation – a solitary endeavour that, thanks to painting houses and backing other musicians, he has just finished paying to have produced. Including that $1,000 from Nealis.

Olivier Clements & Dissonant Histories play Hermann’s (753 View) March 5 at 8pm. Tickets, $15, available at Larsen Music and online at olivierclements.com, where you can also purchase the record.

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

Donna Jones, who was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, is the executive director of the documentary ‘Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence’. (Submitted)
Islander produces documentary offering hope to those with addictions

Donna Jones and husband Brent just released Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley led the effort to create a Vancouver Island poetry booklet in recognition of National Poetry Month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library publishes booklet for National Poetry Month

Collection features winners of ‘Poem in your Pocket’ contest

SENCOTEN language revitalizationist and filmmaker Renee Sampson’s short film, Bringing Our Language Back to LIfe, shows online during the Reel 2 Real International Youth Film Festival, April 14-23. (Photo courtesy Wapikoni)
SENCOTEN language featured in short film created on Saanich Peninsula

Renee Sampson film highlights importance of passing on traditional languages to youth

The area surrounding the Chemainus Rotary Club’s bunker door is one of the new surfaces that will feature a mural. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Up to three new murals coming to Chemainus

Project will be coordinated between the Rotary Club and Festival of Murals Society

Jules Sherred, photographer and owner of Polaris Creative, is putting together an exhibit that combines two of his greatest passions: food and advocacy for those with disabilities. (Polaris Creative photo)
Kickstarter launches for fully accessible exhibit focused on food

Raising awareness has been Sherred’s life’s work.

Sooke artist Jessica Ruth Freedman is one of nine virtual in-residence artists who share the creative process, conduct webinars, write and offer sage advice with artsUNITE, a free online wayfinding platform for artists. (Contributed - Jessica Ruth Freedman)
Sooke artist joins artsUNITE, getting creative through pandemic

National program brings much-needed support to arts community

Most Read