Rich Aucoin's concerts are a flurry of glowing neon, flashing videos, positive vibes and, starting this summer, a 35-pound parachute.
"It can fit 1,000 people (under it)," Aucoin says over the phone from outside a museum in Winnipeg during a tour stop.
This multi-coloured monstrosity is just one of the visual props the Haligonian electro-pop musician incorporates into his set. Another favourite addition: carefully curated YouTube videos that play throughout. Aucoin's next goal, he says earnestly, is to "add a clip from everything I've seen before. It's crazy how long a second is in film. You can say a lot of things. There's some things you only have to show for two seconds and it registers in people's brains."
Case in point: the string of movie clips featuring people's heads exploding synced up to the refrain "We won't leave it all in our heads" in his jubilant pop hit "It" from We're All Dying to Live.
"My mission statement is anyone who sees me (a second) time will see something different," he says. "It's not just the same show over again."
As he continues to work on tracks for his next record, the show will increasingly include new songs too. Aucoin released his debut full length back in 2011, earning a spot on the Polaris Prize longlist for 2012. More recently he won the inaugural Prism Prize, which honours the best Canadian music video for his "Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E." clip. The video, directed by Noah Pink, features Aucoin acting out the life of the famed Beach Boy's singer from the band's beginnings through Wilson's mental illness to his comeback. The clip beat out hugely popular finalists, including Grimes' "Oblivion," Metz's "Wet Blanket" and Arcade Fire's "Sprawl II."
"I was very surprised," Aucoin says. "The competition was amazing."
After finishing up a cross-Canada tour with hip-hop-rock hybrid k-os, which includes a stop at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival main stage, he will head back into the studio. "I'm constantly writing new stuff," he says. "I'm just finishing the next record. I'll be recording in June in Toronto and Halifax with a couple different producers. All the songs are written. I'll be playing a bunch of them at the show."
When he released his last record, Aucoin only had one EP to his name and no idea that it would go on to make its mark on the Canadian indie music scene. With each release, the pressure increases, he says. "When I made my first EP I was thinking about myself and a few of my friends hearing it," he says. "I didn't expect all the people who heard that EP to hear it. Then with We're All Dying to Live, I knew more people were going to hear it. That factors in a bit more."