'A case of the empties': Former Alvvays drummer explores career in graphic design

P.E.I. native Phil MacIsaac has created the poster for the East Coast Music Awards just five years after he took a break from his own music career.

Phil MacIsaac has played with the Danks and most recently Alvvays

Phil MacIsaac created this poster for the East Coast Music Awards which are being held this year in Charlottetown. (East Coast Music Awards/Facebook )

As Phil MacIsaac flips through his photo albums at home he is reminded of the young kid who held a tennis racket in hand pretending to be a rock and roll star, but that picture has since changed.

MacIsaac, a graphic designer and musician from the Island, said while he still enjoys playing music, the lifestyle that comes with being a musician is a different story.

He was a drummer for the band Alvvays, as well as the Danks, starting in the early 2000s.

It was more like university student to musician, to designer, to musician, then to designer but all the while being all those things together you know what I mean.— Phil MacIsaac

MacIsaac first started playing the drums when he was 12 years old, after learning to play the guitar.

"I just naturally had the co-ordination for it. I could always just kind of do it."

But as the years went on MacIsaac found himself unsettled by touring which led to depression.

"The touring lifestyle, the constant feeling of being unsettled, we refer to it as the empties," he said.

A career in graphic design 

So, with a "serious case of the empties" and wanting better financial security, MacIsaac turned to graphic design.

The transition, he said, wasn't a smooth one.

Phil MacIssac, of Prince Edward Island, has taken a break from his music career and taken up his other passion, graphic design. (Phil MacIsaac/Facebook)

"It was more like university student to musician, to designer, to musician, then to designer but all the while being all those things together you know what I mean." 

MacIsaac said the ability and passion for both was always there.

The passion for graphic design, though, allowed him to create this year's East Coast Music Awards poster which combines the Charlottetown skyline with some psychedelic features.

"I wanted to kind of do something different with the skyline and kind of give it a youthful look," MacIsaac said.

"Something to reflect the youth culture here because P.E.I. isn't known for that."

MacIsaac said he is happy with his choice to focus on graphic design while still remembering the young boy who dreamed of being a rock star.

"I'm quite happy with where I am right now."

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With files from Mainstreet


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