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Chad VanGaalen donates proceeds from compiliation to musician relief fund

0428 arboretum Chad Vangaalen
0428 arboretum Chad Vangaalen

Chad VanGaalen is known as a bit of a wizard in the studio.

But even by his standards, the speed in which he cobbled together Odds and Sods 2 was impressive. An eight-track compilation of B-sides, rarities and outtakes from recording sessions of the past decade, the collection is meant as an impromptu gift to fans and a way for the Calgary singer-songwriter, animator and filmmaker to quickly raise funds for fellow musicians suffering financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only available on Bandcamp, the idea was to get something up by March 20. That was the day when the American online company was waiving its sales fees so all proceeds would go directly to the artists that use the service. All proceeds from the sale of Odds and Sods 2 from that day, and moving forward, will be donated to Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund, a long-standing charity that provides financial assistance to career musicians and industry workers.

“We had 24 hours to put it together,” says VanGaalen, in an interview from his Calgary home. “Nothing is mastered. It sounds horrible. But we wanted to raise some money and awareness.”

VanGaalen is being typically humble. Odds and Sods 2 does not sound horrible. Granted, the fact that he sifted through 10 years of material from his over-stuffed vaults gives the project a cheerfully haphazard feel and the musician’s sound has often relied on a home studio, lo-fi inventiveness. But the eight tracks actually provide a nice overview of the vast terrain the Juno-nominated artist covers as a musician.

The songs range from the defiantly noisy, seven-minute-plus experimentation of The Last Starfighter’s Last Napkin to the primitive-pop and garage rock of Space Dreaming and the ramshackle folk of live favourite Liquid Expansion.

It wasn’t long after the COVID-19 cancellations began rolling in that it became clear the pandemic was going to have a devastating impact on musicians, particularly those that rely on tours and gigs to make a living. Vangaalen contacted Tony Kiewell at Sup Pop Records, his American label, and asked what he could do. That was on March 19.

“He said ‘If we can put together something in the next couple of hours we could have it out by tomorrow,” VanGaalen says. “So I just went through a pile of songs and sent them a dropbox folder. We picked eight tracks and that was it.”

He says he hopes to continue raiding the vaults for more releases that he will put on Bandcamp to raise funds for fellow musicians.

“I feel like we’ll probably do a bunch more of these things and I’ll probably end up releasing cassette records on Bandcamp eventually once I have time to compile those,” he says. “There’s definitely a few records that are just sitting around doing nothing. It’s better that they do something than just sit on a shelf in a box. That was more the reasoning behind it. I was feeling a little bit helpless. What can I do? It just so happened Bandcamp was offering that free day so it was good timing.”

Meanwhile, VanGaalen continues to work on a new record, a full-length followup to 2017’s Light Information. He has kept busy with other creative activities as well. He directed recent videos for the Sun Ra Arkestra, Montreal’s Corridor and Wolf Parade and co-produced Edmonton singer-songwriter Marlaena Moore’s latest record, Pay Attention, Be Amazed! He also just finished working on Season 3 of the live-action/animated Adult Swim comedy Dream Corp LLC, a show for which he provides music and character design.

“It’s been a dream come true,” VanGaalen says. “Because I get to hang out in my studio. I’ve kind of been self-isolating for the last five years anyway.”

To purchase Odds and Sods 2 visit chadvangaalen.bandcamp.com

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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