Photo Credit: Tyler Blackwood Photography
Recently I had the opportunity to send Letters From Pluto questions discussing her recent Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) nomination for “Pop Song of the Year”, the inspiration behind the video “Cold Right Now”, and her place in the sci-fi universe. Enjoy her thought-provoking, thoroughly-honest answers!
First off, congratulations on your first nomination for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) for “Pop Song of the Year” for your current single “Cold Right Now.” How does it feel to be in the same company as past high-profile HHMA winners, such as “City of Stars” from La LaLand, that have gone on to win Golden Globe and Oscar awards?
Thank you so much! It feels kind of surreal actually. When I first got word that my song was nominated, I stared at my laptop with my mouth agape for about 30 seconds, then I continued to scream and dance around my room for the next 10 minutes. It’ll be my first experience at a fancy Hollywood awards show, so I’m just praying that I don’t trip on the red carpet! Haha
This year you are one of six Canadian HHMA nominees and the only artist nominee from Alberta. What type of exposure do you think these nominations have for the Canadian music scene and, specifically, the Alberta music scene? Are these high profile nominations a good way to expose other markets to the Great White North of music?
I think this would be a really good opportunity for the Alberta music scene to be more recognized! I feel that generally when people think of music from Alberta, they think folk and country, but Alberta is incredibly diverse in music and I’m hoping that this will help people realize that we have many acts and genres here worth celebrating!
As an independent Canadian artist, what has been your biggest professional / industry struggle, considering the major label dominance in the Pop/Rock/Electronic genre(s)?
Ready for a bad analogy? I’m essentially trying to play in the same sandbox as kids that are much bigger than me, and that have much larger shovels than me. And here I am, the smaller, younger kid with a spoon, asking to play with them. Kind of a tall order, but I just decided to jump in and go for it! Haha. It’s definitely not easy, as I’m trying to play in the same airwave space with people like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, which is insane to even think about, but also really fun.
With your obsession of music and space as a child, leading to your professional moniker Letters From Pluto, and the popularity of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield sending his musical messages from space, any thought of a Letters From Pluto / Chis Hadfield collaboration such as song co-writing, a duet, or public performance?
If I had the opportunity to meet Chris Hadfield, I’d completely fangirl and lose the ability to speak in his presence. haha. Honestly though, performing with him would be absolutely incredible. And what an idea! I think I’ll have to borrow that one from you if you don’t mind. “Astronaut, Chris Hadfield performing with Letters From Pluto” —I can hear it now.
If one of your songs was asked to be played in astronaut’s headsets as they were being launched into space, which song would you pick and why?
Wow, this is honestly the best interview I’ve ever had. How did you come up with these incredible questions??
I think my song “On Fire” would make the most sense while launching —cause ya know, rocket fuel haha.
And because the wording couldn’t be more perfect, I’d say one of my other songs, “Another World Away” once they’ve left the atmosphere and are floating above the world. How fitting would that be?!?
Was the planet Pluto chosen to receive letters from, or be a pen-pal with, since it has been reduced to a dwarf plant and may need comfort, or because it is the furthest away and the most likely to be lonely? By extension, if Pluto had an eHarmony account, to widen its social circle, what do you think it might say?
This continues to be the best interview ever!
I have to say, you really hit the nail on the head with this question, and you’re the first one to make that connection. It’s actually a mixture of both. When I knew I wanted to have a space themed moniker, I really started thinking about the planets. And during that time, I had just written most of my EP that discusses topics of strength, determination, and to not let life get us down. But I also wanted my name to mean something. Sometimes during times of difficulty, you can feel extremely alone and disconnected from society, so the more I thought about it, the more it felt like that was Pluto. Almost everyone I know has a deep affection for this dwarf planet that we barely know anything about, but just like people, when we’re in a bad place and separated and disconnected from others, we never really notice the love they’re trying to give us. We’re usually more loved and respected than we realize since the view of ourselves is usually quite skewed. So in a really long answer, that’s the story of where my name originates from.
In terms of an eHarmony account: I feel that if Pluto were a person, he would be an angsty young adult just looking for some love and acceptance. I mean, the planet has a heart shape on it! I can’t really give an intelligent answer as to why, but I feel he would probably be into Shakespeare, or Greek mythology or something niche and artsy.
Pluto’s eHarmany might say something along the lines of: “Love long walks on the beach and discussions of the implications of King Lear’s actions….”,
“Cat lovers only, as their dexterity makes them the far superior animal (kidding, I love all animals and I want them to love me back. Seriously, I’ll take any animal)”.
“Must love (insert super underground indie rock band that no one has ever heard of)”.
As a science enthusiast are you also a sci-fi enthusiast? If so, are you more of a Star Trek or Star Wars person? What type of character would you be in your respective sci-fi universe?
I’m a HUGE Sci-Fi enthusiast. I feel like with a moniker of Letters From Pluto, if I wasn’t a fan of Sci-Fi I would be a total fraud! And 100% Star Wars all the way and I would totally be a Jedi. Not even a question in my mind. Did I mention I also wanted to be a Jedi when I was a kid? Heck, I still do. Letters From Pluto—Artist/Singer/Songwriter/Jedi
Are there any favourite sci-fi books, series, of movies Letters From Pluto indulges in when not busy with music?
One of my favourite movies is The Martian. (Have you seen it? If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and watch it ASAP). Matt Damon is an astronaut that gets stuck on Mars as his entire team, thinking he’s dead, leave him behind. Spoiler alert, he’s not, and he has to stay alive long enough to get rescued. Not so spoiler alert: Mars will try to kill you. Over and over again. It’s a smart sci-fi movie with a lot of heart. The book is incredible too.
I love other Sci-Fi shows and movies, especially anything Marvel related. And Stranger Things. Just watched Season 2 and I don’t even have words for how much I love that show.
The Golden Record was famously launched on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 containing images and music depicting life and culture on Earth to extra-terrestrials. If a new Golden Record was being launched into space today, what music would you include as exemplars of Earth culture?
Now THAT is a tough question haha. So much incredible music, it would be extremely difficult to sum up Earth’s depth as a society with only a few songs. I’ll try my best, obviously, this is quite personal and I feel like this is a question that I’ll never quite finish answering as I’ll always think of another song to add to the list.
Definitely some David Bowie as I think it would be next to impossible to not include him on the list. I’d add at least 3, and in no particular order: Starman, Space Oddity and Life on Mars. (I just noticed a trend there :P). Definitely some older Coldplay, like “Don’t Panic”, “Clocks”, and “Paradise”. Some MUSE as well, “Supermassive Black Hole” for starters. Some Beatles in there as well. This is where it gets difficult…how many genres are we talking about here? This list could go on for pages…..
And funny enough you asked me this question because there’s a song by M83 called “Outro”, and when I describe that song, I always say ‘if you could put the Universe into a song, it would be Outro’. I’m not exactly sure why, but it affects me so deeply whenever I hear it. My recommendation: turn it up loud, close your eyes and don’t open them again till the song is complete. It’ll move you.
If Pluto the dog became Pluto the god, how would the underworld look different?
Wow, interesting question! I imagine the underworld would look significantly brighter, with happy, goofy (see what I did there?) music. I need to think on that one…
The video for “Cold Right Now” is visually impressive merging the music with a nature-meets-technology-meets-magik aesthetic. Discuss the process of making the video and its inspiration.
Thank you! Going into the video, I had quite a significant idea of what I wanted to happen. I wanted it to play out almost as a short fantasy/action/adventure film, and be placed somewhere that’s not our reality. With the mash of aesthetics, I wanted the viewer to get a ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’ vibe, which I feel like we achieved. The video was shot over a 2-day period, two REALLY long days —I gained so much respect for anyone in film, because the hours are insane, but it was a complete blast filming! There are hours of footage that ended up on the cutting room floor. My main intention of the video though was to introduce the all-in-black, helmeted character. What is it? What does it want? You may see it again in future…so keep your eyes peeled.
How did Brandon Fletcher, of Vancouver based production company Faked Potatoes, become involved in the “Cold Right Now” video project?
I sought him out! I had done a lot of research on videographers across Western Canada and found that I really enjoyed the vibe and aesthetic of many of his videos and decided I really wanted to work with him. So I contacted him, we chatted a lot about the project, and the rest is history!
Besides the prestigious HMMA nomination, what has been a personal career highlight thus far?
The HMMA nomination is a huge one. I honestly can’t wait to walk the red carpet and sit at the awards gala amongst massive names and industry professionals! If I see Justin Timberlake, I’ll definitely pass out. Also winning iHeartRadio Future Star was a really big deal! Funny story — I got word that I won as I was in Ontario during my radio tour. I was between radio stations when I received the call and I started freaking out on the phone. My guitar player was driving, wondering what the heck was wrong with me.
Charging up your Flux Capacitor, what does the future entail for Letters From Pluto?
All your nerdy references give me life :P. Lots of plans for 2018! I’ll be rolling out 3 new singles throughout the year! And the plan is to release to radio in Canada and Europe and promote the singles across different countries! Also working hard towards setting up a European tour sometime next Spring/Summer, and hopefully some festivals, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Looking to try and perform as often as possible! If you’d like to keep up to date on all my activities, I’m very active on social media, look me up! I’m on Instagram, twitter and facebook! 🙂
Thanks so much for your time and best of luck at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards!
Thanks so much for the incredible interview! What fun, thought-provoking questions!
Connect with Letters From Pluto:
The Riz is a prolific multi-genre songwriter, lyricist, writer and bassist for “Demolition Rock” sensation Ultimate Power Duo. A staple of the Saskatoon music scene, he has toured extensively across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. The Riz is also the composer and saxophone player for R. Muttering, an avant-garde soundscape improvisational electro-acoustic performance art and recording group. Besides his Bachelor of Music in Music Education (B. Mus. (Mus. Ed.) / B. Ed. (Mus.)) from the University of Saskatchewan, he has amazing comic and vinyl collections.
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