Mixed and matched: Winnipeg electronic musician working with super-producer Daniel Lanois
Venetian Snares and Lanois played surprise show in Winnipeg while working on collaborative album
An internationally recognized Winnipeg electronic musician has teamed up with a Canadian super-producer known for making Grammy Award-winning albums for U2, Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris.
Aaron Funk, who performs under the moniker Venetian Snares, is known for his rapid-fire and off-kilter beats. He played a surprise show with Daniel Lanois on Sunday, one day after Lanois's mainstage performance at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
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Promotions for the show advertised it as only featuring a "surprise guest." When the two walked out on stage at the Good Will shortly after 11 p.m., neither said anything to the crowd.
"I thought it was a good idea to do a low-key thing. Also, he was here for Folk Fest, so I didn't want to advertise his name and take away from people who were going to see him there," Funk said.
Funk sat down behind a table stacked with an array of electronic equipment, while Lanois sat directly across from him behind his pedal-steel guitar.
For the next hour, the two played a (largely improvised) set that blended Funk's loud and skittering rhythms with the sometimes floating, sometimes wailing tones of Lanois's guitar.
"When we're making music together, we're sort of interwoven in this really neat way, whereas I've got a feed of him. So the stuff he's playing, I'm processing him, so he's going through my equipment, as well," said Funk.
Sunday wasn't the first time they appeared on stage together. They played a show in Toronto in May, but the collaboration began with a phone call.
"I guess he was a fan of my music. And I don't know, he just called me up one day a few years ago and he kept calling me a 'brave lion.' I thought that was pretty funny," Funk said.
He met Lanois a few times in Toronto and the pair started recording. Funk said the two have recorded "probably 75 years worth of material."
Before gaining international fame and collaborating with music pioneers like Brian Eno in the 1980s, Lanois produced albums by Canadian artists, including Martha and the Muffins and children's singer Raffi.
"We were going for our sound check in Toronto and there was a guy waiting outside with a Raffi record that he wanted Dan to sign, which I thought was pretty hilarious," said Funk.
During the show in Winnipeg on Sunday, Funk and Lanois rarely looked at each other, save for one moment when Funk dropped an especially loud explosion of bass tones in the middle of a meditative patch of Lanois's clean guitar. Funk looked up at Lanois and they both briefly grinned before resuming focus on their instruments.
CBC reached out to Lanois's record label, Red Floor Records, for comment but did not receive a response.
Lanois spoke about his collaboration with Funk in an interview with the Montreal Gazette that was published June 20.
"He's absolutely the master of what he does," Lanois said. "[His music] is very intense, very powerful rhythmically, with sounds I can't make myself. I get the sense when working with him like when I first worked with Brian Eno. There's no link other than imagination."
Funk also praised Lanois's musical imagination.
"He understands how to build a world up and then erect what may exist within that world. That's something that I've always been into and I see that in him and I really appreciate that," he said.
Funk said he and Lanois are in the process of mixing their first collaborative album, with the aim of releasing it next year.
At the end of the show at the Good Will, neither Funk nor Lanois said anything to the audience. They just waved and walked off.
The crowd got briefly excited when Lanois walked back on stage, but he just quickly grabbed something and walked back off, with no encore.
They left the crowd wanting more.