For those unfamiliar, Liquid Canoe is the project of Wolfgang Matthes, a “lost Angelino” who traded the freeways and palm trees of the US entertainment mecca for the natural landscape of the Pacific North West. Created in an ensemble style collaboration with a slew of instrumentalist friends in a converted stable on Galiano Island (with roots in Los Angeles), the self-titled Liquid Canoe LP is an exercise in rhythmic ambience. Vintage synths and drum machine boogie grooves moving in tandem with ‘70s Germany-inspired space rock, dub, and psych-funk instrumentation. Fittingly, it’s been released through Basso’s Growing Bin Records in LP format. Below, Wolfgang tells us about a day in the life.
If you are at home, what time do you wake up?
I’m usually up by eight, but it’s variable depending on the night before. After 20 years of California living, in the dark BC winters I got tricked a couple of times into thinking it’s too early to get up, while in reality, it was already past 10 am.
Do you have any family, kids or pets that wake you up?
I have a very polite dog who for the most part, is exceptionally patient with her parents, the occasional close-up morning stare snout under the blanket scheme followed by a single bark not included. As we are about to adopt three young kittens, our mornings could look quite different soon.
What is the first thing you look at on your phone? Email? Instagram? The news?
Probably text messages, mail; and then Instagram.
How long do you wait after waking up before you do this?
I try to avoid looking at my phone for at least an hour in the morning and before going to bed as well. Next step is to get a clock instead of using the phone to check the time. I have to admit, however, that I wasn’t too successful yet, haha. A good friend said “I like my world to be big, not small” in reference to looking at a small screen at all times vs noticing the whole world around you. I’ll try and live by that.
What do you have for breakfast?
Steel-cut oats, yogurt and fruit, is my go-to choice, with the occasional breakfast eggs in between.
How long do you generally sleep for?
Where is home for you? What is the area? What’s the space like?
My wife and I live on Galiano Island, British Columbia, in the Pacific North West, a 55min ferry ride away from Vancouver. Our house was built from trees growing and milled on-site before building regulations put a damper on creative home building. If you are familiar with Lloyd Kahn and his books Shelter and Builders Of The PNW, our home falls into that category. Rustic with some funk tossed in. It’s rural living in the temperate rainforest surrounded by the Salish Sea. The house came with 2 barns, one of which is now my studio, aka the Wunderbarn.
Once you are up and about, how do you usually spend your day?
An ideal day for me starts with a cup of coffee and some time on the piano or sound explorations with synths or my MPC. Mornings tend to hold that unspoiled magic which gets easily lost over the course of the day with our, sometimes endless seeming, daily duties.
After 2-3 hours of playing music, it’s time for a stroll with our dog to the local beach. At times I love going for long 3-4 hour walks exploring the island. It’s still pretty wild and untouched here, walking for hours without running into anyone is common. There’s a shift in your sensory awareness that happens after a prolonged walk in nature, all parts of your body start to tune into the frequencies of the natural world; I enjoy that a lot. It helps to know that there are no top predators on the island, although there’s talk of a visiting mountain lion, haha! Maybe I should have some Metallica on my phone just in case I need to scare it away.
There’s a shift in your sensory awareness that happens after a prolonged walk in nature, all parts of your body start to tune into the frequencies of the natural world; I enjoy that a lot.
Vancouver has an inspiring, tight-knit, electronic music scene; if I have a severe case of island fever, I can always hop on the ferry and see some DJ’s or live acts.
When do you get to lunch?
Around 2-3 pm. Lunch is low on my list of priorities, though. A good breakfast keeps me going all day.
How do you usually find new synthesisers, drum machines and the like? Do you buy new gear regularly, or have you just got enough stuff that you’re happy?
It’s mainly online these days. My wife would definitely say I have enough, and I try to convince myself as well. However, if something comes along that’s innovative with a creative, tactile, approach to expression, it’s hard not to get excited. Mantra to OCD self: If I can’t create music with what I already have, a new piece of equipment will not magically solve that. Not so sure if it works.
Have you got many local musical instruments or music gear shops you can get to?
As I’m in an isolated setting, not so much. I did manage to buy a pair of Tannoy SRM10’s off Craigslist that someone had on his boat that was anchored at a neighbouring island. The seller picked me up at 8 am at the marina with his aluminium dingy. Floating back over the water from his boat with a pair of Tannoy’s on my lap was pretty exotic. There’s a cool store in Vancouver called Nightlife Electronics that does repairs and retails new synths.
Do you have many friends living nearby who you can have come over to jam or play on your songs? How hard is it to get people around?
I had a fair amount of people visiting me from LA. One of my friends liked it so much he came three times. Some great musicians are living on the island, and there’s always an opportunity to play with someone if that’s what you are after. Vancouver has an inspiring, tight-knit, electronic music scene; if I have a severe case of island fever, I can always hop on the ferry and see some DJ’s or live acts. There’s plenty of activity on Galiano as well with a newly formed electronic ambient festival that’s happening in August.
Is there anything you’ve watched recently that you are enjoying? Netflix series, films or documentaries?
I loved 'Lovers Of The Arctic Circle' with a beautiful score by Alberto Iglesias. Also, Luchino Visconti’s 'Conversation Piece' on the Criterion Channel.
Liquid Canoe is out now through Growing Bin Records in LP format (order here)
Photography supplied by Wolfgang Matthes.