Rich Aucoin is a Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist, known as a collaborator and guest musician of his older brother Paul Aucoin’s band Hylozoists and as an solo artist. His debut effort, 2007’s Personal Publication EP was conceptualized as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and he supported the release by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. When he was finished with his solo tour, he joined Hylozoists on a tour, but after a sudden shift from regular exercise to visually no exercise at all, Aucoin suffered with an iron deficiency; however, after recuperating, he went on a solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
During both of his early solo tours, the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based musician recorded the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan’s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party’s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band’s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral.
Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and the EP’s first single “Release” which, features live drumming from Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff is a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger centered around layers of arpeggiated synths and thumping beats. Interestingly, the track finds Aucoin drawing from house music, and boom bap-era hip-hop in a way that’s reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and others — but underneath the club banging swagger, there’s a zen-like tranquility.
Directed by Dave Hung, who may arguably be best known for his work on Kanye West’s “Famous,” the recently released video for “Release,” was filmed on four separate occasions off the coast of Nova Scotia, and features a suit-wearing Aucoin laying in the water, repeating the mantra of there being no shark attacks in Nova Scotia — while the video crew flew drones overhead, safely on shore. Primarily based around one, long and deeply meditative, photographic shot, the video manages to posses a creepy air as it forces to viewer to wonder if the video’s protagonist was at peace — or if he were dead.