“A writer – and, I believe, generally all persons – must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”
It is telling that Nanaimo, BC, musician SEAN PATTON once posted the above quote from Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) on his Facebook page. A purveyor of deeply personal material, Patton mirrors Borges’ creative philosophy by mining his life experiences, fears and insecurities to deliver emotional songs of visceral intensity.
Born and raised in the coastal Vancouver Island city he still calls home, Patton’s musical education began as a child with classical piano, particularly the works of Frédéric Chopin, continuing with jazz in high school. At the age of thirteen Patton was gifted an acoustic guitar by his parents, but at that time a committed fan of such as Nirvana and Outkast the teenager felt compelled to make a greater noise, finding a suitable vent by playing in a high school ‘screamo’/hardcore punk outfit.
Later realizing the potential impact of acoustic instrumentation, Patton’s own songs began to develop in earnest in 2011. By now his writing was heavily influenced by more introspective, folk-oriented artists such as Nick Drake, Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley, all of whom Patton has been compared to in recent years, and inspirational in shaping the material of his forthcoming full-length release, Things You Didn’t Want to Hear, for Mighty Speck Records.
Currently also playing bass guitar in Nanaimo’s up-and-coming psychedelic dreamers Wide Eyed, Patton cites Julia Holter, Stars of the Lid and Unwound as current obsessions as he prepares to reveal his powerful new 9-song album. The follow-up to 2014’s 5-song debut Scatterbrain CD EP, Things You Didn’t Want to Hear is totally unadorned, stripped back to acoustic guitar and vocals to reveal the raw emotions of its lyrical content. Recorded live off the floor at Nanaimo musician/producer Ed Lee’s Broken Spiral Studios, the album was approached as if it was to be Patton’s last recording, and the consequent urgency crackles through every intense vocal performance.
A driven musician resisting convenient pigeonholing with all his might, Patton is a fresh and fascinating new artist in the acoustic arena. Although sonically far removed from them, his modus operandi shares much with the organic, unshackled spirit of Daniel Johnston, Willis Earl Beal or Jandek, also bearing echoes of early Conor Oberst. A unique songwriter of rare emotional impact, Sean Patton appears to be an understated presence onstage, but from beneath the quiet exterior come extraordinary songs of deep-seated universal connection.
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