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From his days growing up in the small fishing village of Wedgeport, Nova Scotia, to his days fronting Halifax indie-rock outfit Sleepless Nights, AA Wallace has always been an outlier, carving out his own musical niche that was often in stark contrast to what was going on around him.
His debut album (disambiguation) was a solitary endeavour, with the artist writing, producing and recording the songs himself in his bedroom in Halifax. Created with samples from broken toys and dollar-bin records and released on small East Coast indie label Acadian Embassy in May 2013, the album was a critical success, being called “both melancholic and philosophical” (Earshot) and“the most insidiously catchy bedroom pop we’ve heard all year” (Toronto Star). The following year found Wallace developing a live band and bringing his brand of cerebral grim-pop to festivals such as NXNE, Halifax Pop Explosion, Evolve, and Great Escape UK.
In 2015 Wallace relocated to Toronto and signed with label Culvert Music (Saukrates, Ben Stevenson) to release the follow-up to(disambiguation) titled In Alpha Zones. Often spoken of as being ahead of his time, In Alpha Zones plays out like a man from the future trying to match up with the present by exploring his past, taking classic pop production elements and drenching them with vintage synth and drum machine sounds akin to 80s VHS scores.
With tracks relating to his experiences touring with his old band (“We Just Stopped”), the sudden death of his father (“The Woodsman”) and a fully re-vamped live version of the first track he ever released (“Shake it Out 2.0”), the album finds Wallace at his most reflective. Each track on the album occupies it’s own small musical universe, from the funk-infused “Harlequin”, the reverb-drenched “Secret Name” and the driving synth-pop of “VLT Girls (We Win Again)”, Wallace’s influences are plentiful and wide reaching.
Much like the revolving door policy of his previous group, the album also finds Wallace kicking open the entrance to his bedroom studio, inviting his peers to perform. The full list of collaborators consists of Paul Saulnier (PS I Love You), Babette Hayward (Vogue Dots), Keith Hamilton and Heather Mahzar (Beams), the entirety of Tupperware Remix Party, Josh Pothier (Kuato), string arranger Drew Jurecka (Bahamas, Great Lake Swimmers) and Horn player/arranger Bryden Baird (Feist, Zeus, Broken Social Scene).
Having spent most of his life on the fringes of the Canadian scene, In Alpha Zones is Wallace’s report from the sidelines – sometimes exploratory and other times warm and familiar, a self-reflecting piece of art that allows new audiences to discover him while he’s simultaneously discovering himself.