Megaphono and Michael John Dubue Prepare a Chamber Feast

Michael John Dubue is one of those artists dipped so deep in his versatility that if it were a pool you’d usually only get to see the top of his head and maybe a bit of his nifty black specs.  Juggling a touring schedule, recording sessions, performing and writing for one band might be like attempting to balance a chainsaw on your nose for many of us but Dubue seems to like stacking his commitments taller than the Burj Khalifa!

Along with the HILOTRONS, Dubue is part of Scattered Clouds and Little Scream, finds the time to join Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry’s Heart & Breath Ensemble, and role warps between arranger, composer, producer, sound tech and musician. Wedged in between all that are pages upon pages of compositions that include six feature film scores.

When looking at Dubue’s workload it’s easy to picture a hoarder’s apartment packed with boxes, crates and magazines you haven’t seen since the mid-70s. It may look like clutter but the one who resides within knows exactly where everything is.

“Music is gigantic and incredible and demands an obsessive, workaholic and unhealthy approach to creating art and living life,” says Dubue, nakedly honest about the lifestyle such a rapid output creates.

Being experimental himself, Dubue has found inspiration in artists that don’t just create outside the box, they build their own boxes. Why compose within a square when you can work within polygons or transformative shapes and patterns not explored within the mainstream?

Dubue uses a visual approach to his music. He explains how, as a filmmaker may need to plot their movie out on a storyboard or picture it in their heads before the first take, he needs to the see the entire story of his compositions before he starts to write them. It beings in the mindscape and moves towards the piano where those images surface as sounds.

“Having a strong sense of the narrative helps me shape the music and focus on simple motifs,” Dubue says, adding that he’s exceptionally critical of his own work during all stages of the process. If you’re hearing it during a performance you can bet it has been scrutinized and agonized before fully realized.

His latest project for the Megaphono festival will combine both music and visuals in sensory soup aptly named Chamber Feast! Knowing of his past film scores, including a haunting soundtrack to the classic 1922 silent film Nosferatu, fest founder Jon Bartlett  approached the musician about doing something similar.

“It started there, but logistics were challenging to make it happen,” Dubue says. “I had a barely written string quartet and decided to finish it and present at the festival.”

The resulting composition, Dubue says, is about “meditating on a past life, listening for an echo to interpret and imagine that life.” The show will be ethereal, sad but also peaceful with moments of chaos and violence. It’s the type of multi-layered performance that merges nicely into the unpredictable avenues you can explore at a festival like Megaphono not inclined to anchor itself in safe, big name acts.

The evening will also include Thomas Annand on solo harpsichord performing avant-garde composer  György Ligeti's “Continuum” and  Pemi Paull on viola for Ligeti’s “Sonata For Solo Viola, VI: Chaconne Cromatique”. The two will come together to play Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegle” before Montreal’s the Warhol Dervish string quartet takes the stage for the second half of the evening where two of Dubue’s compositions will be featured.  Pianist, accordionist, producer, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, magician, cartoonist, puppet maker and the Madman of Klezmer hip ho, Josh “Socalled” Dolgin is also on the program.

Michael John Dubue's
Chamber Feast

Friday, February 3 – 7:30PM

St. Alban’s