Alexander Stooshinoff’s upcoming ambient EP Stoic will be released in the fall of 2018—at which point, some of the EP’s songs will be up to four years old. Stooshinoff described the creation of Stoic as a product of significant life events during a personally difficult year in 2016.
“2016 was a pretty difficult year for me. Bad things just kept happening, and at one point in autumn, it became comically dark,” said Stooshinoff.
In the summer of 2016, while on tour in Alberta, Stooshinoff’s mother was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. Not long after, Stooshinoff and his ex-partner broke up.
“I had at one time hoped that that relationship would be for life. The break up was especially difficult for a variety of reasons I won’t get into, but in any case it taught me a lot about grief,” he explained.
At this point, Stooshinoff spent the rest of the summer in Saskatoon with his parents in an attempt to care for his mother. After a brief sojourn at the University of Saskatchewan, Stooshinoff decided to return to Montreal where he began working on an experimental album There Are No Graves Here. He describes the album as dealing with themes of dual helplessness—something he felt while going through the experience of a break up and his mother’s illness. Stooshinoff’s mother passed away in the summer of 2017.
However, Stooshinoff admitted that there was an almost invisible silver lining to these events: “If there’s a positive end to the whole story it’s contained somewhere in the enormous love that I received from friends, family, neighbours, professors, throughout those times.”
Currently, Stooshinoff’s single “At Parting,” from Stoic, will be released by FatCat Records within this week. The track features sound of modular synthesis rather than the naturalistic, breathy sounds found in his past album Patient Hands.
Another track in Stoic, “The Poisoner,” chants the haunting refrain, “They’re all gone.”
“‘The Poisoner’ concerns the ways that I harm myself through patterns of thought and the negative stories I tell about myself,” Stooshinoff explained when asked about the meaning of this refrain. “The line [referenced] deals with a kind of existential individualism of being totally on your own, and also the sadness that sometimes comes with remembrance.”
Since 2014, Stooshinoff has changed his stage name twice, moving from playing under his legal name to ‘Living Room,’ and currently to ‘Patient Hands.’ He explains that his change was arbitrary, after registering the name on social media websites from which the name “just stuck around.” For Stooshinoff, the new stage name signifies “quietness” or “warmthness.”
Stooshinoff admitted that his musical style and interests are in a constant state of flux. Her attributed this state to “ever-changing inspiration [and] moods.” Though he thinks, generally, change is a positive thing, he acknowledged that it can, at times, be problematic.
“[I often] change directions before I can even finish a record,” he clarified, “I think that’s part of why it took me the better part of three years to write Stoic.”
He cited the example of his two EPs Patient Hands and Stoic. In actuality, Stooshinoff worked on both EPs simultaneously. He added that there was a strong possibility of merging both the EPs into one.
Stooshinoff, who has previously studied philosophy while in university, has stated before that the field has informed his song-writing style. When asked how, in particular, philosophy has informed the way he writes music, Stooshinoff said that a lot of his musical emphasis is on “mysticism” and “general agnosticism.” At the moment, Stooshinoff is learning about how Plato and Augustine may have influenced mysticism. Philosophy has allowed him to discover how to view the world in different ways, given the unique views of philosophers that he has been introduced to.
“To be clear, I’m not engaged in something something like ‘research-creation’ with my pop music, but what I’m thinking about does inevitably surface in my songwriting,” Stooshinoff added for clarity.
Now, Stooshinoff is working on There Are No Graves. The challenge with this upcoming EP, he acknowledged, is somehow combining disparate musical styles under a unifying element: “There’s also a spoken word piece on there that almost feels too raw for me to release, and that was my first time working in spoken word. There’s a time-stretched version of ‘Calm’ and a processed recording of a classic piece from the middle-ages.”
The cover image for There Are No Graves is a picture of Saskatchewan canola fields taken by Stooshinoff’s father. For Stooshinoff, this image reminds him of home. So much so that working on this album has been a homecoming experience.
While working on There Are No Graves, Stooshinoff is working on a record for acoustic guitar and voice.
“I suspect it will take a while to finish the acoustic record I was working on,” he said, jokingly.