Expressing Fear Differently: An Interview with Output 1:1:1

by - September 12, 2023

Photo courtesy of Green Yang

It was a major step for Danny Janvier to turn his solo project, Output 1:1:1, into a trio.

Alongside Gene Converse and Victor O, they played their first show together at the end of 2019. More shows were lined up for the beginning of 2020, which ended up never happening as Canada and much of the world faced a global pandemic. For a few weeks, it was an occasional phone call or text message, checking in that everyone was safe and healthy. Fear changed Janvier’s perspective, and he couldn’t begin to consider writing new music because what about the music he was previously working on? Was it never going to be completed?

It became clear that this virus was not calming down any time soon, and he needed to find a form of escapism. Writing was his chance to free himself from the constant state of worry he seemed to have found himself in.

“It was a chance to not be in the mind of isolation, where you’re worried about where you’re going and what you’re doing,” he said. “I remember having [that worry] throughout that period and being able to write music was a way to express that fear differently and in a bit more of a healthy way.”

The lengthy lockdown periods in Canada gave the trio a lot of time to not only create complete pieces but also deconstruct them. It ultimately became the premise of their podcast, Cold Waves Of Comfort, where they build songs and discuss them with guests. It was unlike anything they had done before, and the end result, their album Rolling Corpse Pathetique, was unlike any other pandemic record.

“Each song was, for lack of a better term, created in its own isolation over a series of months to a year and a half,” Janvier said. “I spoke to my bandmates about digging each song off that album and building music around it; whether it’s deconstructed bits of that song, pieces of other songs that we’re currently working on, or we had tried and did not think we could take it any further like rejected ideas.”

The podcast stems from his love for demo records that he collected when he was younger. Recontextualizing music ideas was something that fascinated him from an early age and was something he easily incorporated into the podcast. What he found out that he also loved was having conversations with others and getting their reactions to the same piece of music.

“Hearing how folks describe what I’ve done puts into words what I cannot figure out myself,” Janvier said. “I could just say it’s depressing punk and leave it in a joking tone that’s diminishing to the work, but somebody else could have a sense of a more expressive way of describing the music.”

How his process worked for this batch of songs was if a song was initially written on a certain instrument, that is the one he would predominantly use. If he started on a synth, he would focus less on melody. If he started on bass, he would focus more on rhythm. At times he admitted that he focused on one sound in particular or edited something well beyond needing to be edited, but with the help of his bandmates he found a way that worked best for all of them.

The most rewarding part of this album was the song “Howl”, which was the first song he wrote on his Behringer Neutron synthesizer. He confessed that it may not have been his wisest purchase, but he wanted to learn how to use it and what better time than the present.

The song was inspired after a recent Thom Yorke live performance he saw, but every time he tried to replicate that feeling he had during the performance it felt forced. Instead he went for a beat that was more expansive, which gave way to the band improvising a few guitar lines. A multi-track guitar solo was the finishing touch that made it the final version.

“I couldn’t stop listening to it,” Janvier said. “It’s among the proudest I’ve been out of something I had written at that time.”

The album title was influenced by their song “Man Godiva and the Rolling Corpse”, where Janvier said the accusatory and depressing lyrics gave him this idea of French singer and lyricist Charles Aznavour not becoming the success that he was. What if he kept trying and failing? What if he lost everything?

With that perspective in mind, the rolling corpse became this cynical image of an Aznavour-like figure repeatedly rolling down a hill, lifeless and ceasing to exist. To add to this image, they stylized the word ‘pathetic’ to ‘pathetique’ to complete the album title.

Output 1:1:1 spent countless hours creating Rolling Corpse Pathetique. The environment they designed to seek out a new creative outlet gave them the opportunity to write music beyond their comfort zone. By sharing their process on the Cold Waves Of Comfort podcast, this is an album of endless discussions and distinctive sounds.

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