OWEN PALLETT is many things - composer, violinist, winner of the inaugural Polaris Music Prize, and co-writer of the string arrangements for the Arcade Fire’s Funeral. However he is best known as Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy plays the Black Box on Saturday May 30 at 8pm as part of the Róisín Dubh’s Once Upon A Time In The West fifth birthday celebrations.
Pallett was born in 1979 in Toronto, Canada. He learned piano and studied composition at the University of Toronto before switching to his now preferred instrument of the violin.
After graduating, he began playing with bands in Toronto and Montreal. When fellow violinist Patrick Wolf made plans to play the Wavelengths Series - a Toronto music night which helped launch Broken Social Scene - Pallett opened for him under the name Final Fantasy.
Pallett took the name from the well known video game. How big a fan he is of the series is open to debate. “The games are ridiculously overwrought and convoluted emotionally,” he told Pitchfork in 2005.
In 2005 Final Fantasy’s debut album Has A Good Home was released. He followed this up in 2006 with He Poos Clouds, which consists of string quartet arrangements. Eight of the 10 songs are about schools of magic as described in the rules to Dungeons & Dragons.
Since then Pallett has contributed remixes for Stars and Bloc Party; written string arrangements for the Immaculate Machine and F***ed Up; and orchestration for The Last Shadow Puppets’ debut album.
Pallett had also worked and toured with Arcade Fire. With Régine Chassagne, he did the orchestral and string arrangements on Funeral and Neon Bible. Last month Pallett collaborated with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste on a cover of Björk’s ‘Possibly Maybe’ as part of Stereogum’s tribute to Björk’s album Post.
In concert Pallett plays the violin into a sampler controlled by foot pedals, which then loops back one or more of the previously played musical phrases as he plays additional parts simultaneously. He has also performed with more traditional string quartets.
Pallett is gay and believes his work is influenced by his sexuality. “As far as whether the music I make is gay or queer, yeah, it comes from the fact that I’m gay,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean I’m making music about the sexuality specifically.”
Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.