Pick A Piper
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Pick A Piper

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Electronic Dream Pop

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21st February, The Waiting Room

To celebrate the release of their new album Distance, Canadian trio Pick a Piper are currently in the midst of a European tour. Fronted by percussion maestro Brad Weber who also plays in the Caribou live band, theirs is a near seamless masterclass of cohesive performance; colourful, engaging and bursting with energy.

Pick a Piper take to the stage and despite a few sound check stumbles their slick unity is immediately evident. No surprise there as Weber’s bandmates are lifelong friends Angus Fraser and Dan Roberts. They’re set up to face one another in a way which allows the crowd to watch the manipulation of their instruments in fantastic detail. For this the decision to use The Waiting Room with its limited capacity is a perfect choice. With a sound that’s so driven by percussion it’s captivating to see their performance in such close proximity.


Weber’s energy particularly is contagious. He leaps up and down decked out in a multi-coloured Tetris t-shirt, occasionally pausing to swig from a coffee flask. He’s visibly having fun in excess as I spot Dan Snaith watching with appreciation from the back of the room. Opening with xylophone heavy ‘Flood of my Eyes’, Pick a Piper make their way through much of their new LP Distance, including ‘Further and Further’, ‘Nikko’ and ‘Geographically Opposed’. As Pick a Piper continue to develop it would be great to see the vocalists that feature on the album (LLLL, ShadowBox) join them on stage.

The show comes to a close with a victorious crescendo of drumming as electric blue strobes flash across the enchanted crowd. - London in Stereo


On March 3, Ontario experimentalist Brad Weber (a.k.a. Pick A Piper) will release his latest album, Distance, via Tin Angel Records. The album is reportedly a "bewitching slow-rave travelogue of sounds and stories" that Weber picked up on his solo travels and while fulfilling his role in the live-band incarnation of Caribou.

The themes and stories behind the songs on the album follow in line with its unique sound content—sleep paralysis, a Japanese mountain town, and even an email sent to the wrong person all feature on the long-player. Bookended by Weber's beautiful sound design work and intriguing found sound recordings, Distance is a gripping and adventurous collection of tracks to get lost in.

Ahead of the March 3 release, you can download shimmering album cut "Nikko" via WeTransfer below. - XLR8R


From the Ontario electronic experimentalist’s upcoming album Distance.

There can’t be too many passports in the world as well-worn as the one belonging to Canadian instrumentalist Brad Weber. In addition to his travels as part of Caribou, in which he plays drums, he’s a keen explorer who’s ventured everywhere from Japan and Chernobyl to Guatemala and south America in the nine years since his first solo release, under the name Pick A Piper. That globe-trotting is now the inspiration for a new album, Distance, his second full-length.

‘Geographically Opposed’ is that album’s airy opening salvo, and you can hear it below. Full of pulsing keys and breathy vocals, it’s a lush introduction to the latest evolution of Weber’s sound, even if the track was something of an accident according to the Ontario artist.

“It emerged from an email sent to the wrong person!” says Brad. “Bevan Smith, a friend from New Zealand that I know from the touring band of the Ruby Suns, sent me an email by accident, meaning to actually address a different Brad. In return we got talking and started sending tracks back and forth. I sent him the instrumentals to both of these tracks and his vocals were absolutely perfect. In the end he also mixed a third of the record and was an awesome sounding board that helped me re-gain perspective and finally complete the album.”

Check out the track above and if you’re London-based, be sure to catch him at The Waiting Room on February 21. Distance is released via Tin Angel Records on March 3. - FACT


Toronto electronic ensemble Pick a Piper have decided to re-explore the sounds of their 2013 self-titled effort and will be presenting a handful of twisted-up versions of said tracks for a new remix album. Featuring revamps from the likes of Caribou, Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan and Teen Daze, the aptly titled Pick a Piper: Remixes lands April 7 via Abandon Building.

A press release notes that the 16-song remix project features contributions from a number of artists, who have put their own spin on the polyrhythmic digital soundscapes of Pick a Piper's Angus Fraser, Dan Roberts and Brad Weber.

The collection feature multiple re-workings of the original album tracks. "All Her Colours," for instance, is tackled three times — by Vessel, the Ruby Suns and Sun Glitters. Owing to Pick a Piper members also playing in Caribou's live band, Dan Snaith has offered up a redo of "Once Were Leaves," while the song was also remixed by Sibian and Faund. Also upping the Canadian connection are Digits and the aforementioned Greenspan, who takes on "Lucid in Fjords."

Down below, you'll find a full breakdown of the project, as well as a remix of "Cinders and Dust" by BC electronic artist Teen Daze.

All proceeds from the release will be donated to The Steve Reid Foundation, a not for profit with goals to help "independent artists during times of hardship."

Pick a Piper: Remixes:

1. All Her Colours (Vessels Remix)
2. Cinders and Dust (Grown Folk Remix)
3. South to Polynesia (Little People Remix)
4. Dinghy In A Quiet Cove (Set In Sand Remix)
5. Once Were Leaves (Caribou Remix)
6. Zenaida (Koloto Remix)
7. Lucid in Fjords (Chancha Via Circuito Remix)
8. All Her Colours (The Ruby Suns Remix)
9. Hour Hands (Rachael Boyd Remix)
10. Zenaida (Fraaek Remix)
11. Once Were Leaves (Sibian And Faun Remix)
12. Cinders And Dust (Teen Daze Remix)
13. Lucid in Fjords (Jeremy Greenspan Remix)
14. All Her Colours (Sun Glitters Remix)
15. Hour Hands (Carrot Green Remix)
16. Zenaida (Digits Remix) - Exclaim!


Having newly reconvened with Dan Snaith, reassuming his duty as Caribou’s lead rhythmist, you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that we were unlikely to hear from Brad Weber’s Pick a Piper project any time soon. However, we should duly celebrate the powers that be (which in this instance, if for reasons unbeknownst, would appear to be Russian indie Full of Nothing), because Weber’s back with Fluency – five minutes of hyper-rhythmic, meticulously compiled mania, that’s as eminently likeable as Our Love. That after a nuanced breakdown it kicks up again with a climax reminiscent of Lipps Inc.’s Funkytown does it no disservice, either. For Weber’s fluency when it comes to the fashioning of effervescent, vibrant, and voguish productions evidently knows no limits… - Dots and Dashes


Being Caribou’s live percussionist (which is a truly spectacular and sinewy order) requires real chops. But Brad Weber is totally up to the task, as I got to witness a number of times a few years back. Weber has his own beautiful musical project called Pick A Piper.

Featuring guest vocals from members of rad bands Born Ruffians, Braids, Enon and more, Pick A Piper’s self-titled album on Mint Records, has strains of Caribou DNA while uniquely investigating it’s own dreamy landscape.

Less a psychedelic excursion and more of a romantic expression, Pick A Piper sounds like it’d feel to walk into a forest where it’s raining candy. It’s not to say it’s saccharine or overly sweet or doesn’t have the polyrhythmic or melodic punch we’d expect from a member of Caribou, but rather to say that it’s completely enchanting, surprising, colorful and weird. - KCRW


Musical approach for every act varies quite drastically: while some musicians seek isolation in order to create, write, and practice, others find solace while immersed in the everyday motions of life. Pick A Piper seems to thrive in the latter, constantly surrounding themselves amongst other creative beings. Describing their approach as "paying attention to detail, but with the bigger picture in mind," Pick A Piper combines poly-rhythmic percussion with atmospheric sound design, which has earned them worldwide attention.

WHO ARE THEY?

Pick A Piper are a trio consisting of Brad Weber (Caribou), Angus Fraser (Tenth of May), and Dan Roberts. Known to also feature a collection of guest vocalists like Ryan McPhun (Ruby Suns) and Raphaelle Standell-Preston (Braids, Blue Hawaii), the band have in turn garnered attention surrounding their ethereal yet moody soundscapes.

Currently signed to Mint Records here in Canada, Abandon Building in the US, and City Slang in Europe, the band have quickly established themselves since their inception in 2008. As recently featured on our Toronto bands to watch at SXSW 2014 list, Pick A Piper have started off 2014 creating quite the buzz with both their fan base and industry members. The Torontonians, already having played multiple sought after showcases at SXSW, were also recently nominated for SiriusXM Radio's 'Indies' award for 'Electronic Artist of the Year' and released a lush DJ mix on Noisey Canada.

THEY SOUND LIKE

Often claiming their style to be a "sonic equivalent of a kaleidoscope", the threesome fuse dance elements with layers of ambiance. Their influences are diverse, ranging anywhere from Afro-beat to contemporary dance music to Turkish psychedelic. The result is therefore widely experimental, as all three members strive to re-think the norms of club music.

This tension between the ambient / electronic realms defines the sound of Pick A Piper's two EPs and self-titled debut album. The songwriting is "back-to-front" in its nature, as frontman Brad Weber often sent raw demos to vocalists such as Andy Lloyd (Born Ruffians) to allow for as much musical freedom as possible on both fronts. The sound feeds off of this very openness and collaborative energy.

HEAR THEM / SEE THEM

Pick A Piper's Brad Weber can be caught DJing at Sonar Festival in Barcelona on June 14. For any local dates and releases of new music, Toronto fans are going to have to keep their eyes and ears open. - BlogTO


The Caribou percussionist's first full-length in its entirety, one week before its release on Mint Records

After working as a live percussionist for Caribou and releasing a pair of digital-only EPs, Brad Weber's Pick a Piper project offered the shuffling "All Her Colours" earlier this year. SPIN's Marc Hogan described the track, which appears on Pick a Piper's upcoming self-titled debut album (out April 2 on Mint Records), as a concoction that felt specially crafted for "fans of floaty, polyrhythmic dance-pop that mixes organic drum sounds with synths, found-sound samples, and electronics."

The rest of the Toronto-based songwriter and producer's first proper LP follows suit: The eight-track effort blends watery, disembodied grooves and shimmering atmospherics with tight-wristed percussion and guest vocals (from members of the Ruby Suns, Enon and Brainiac, Born Ruffians, and Braids) that also keep your feet fixed firmly on the ground. Stream it all down below. - SPIN


If you have ever had a religious experience watching Caribou you will know: you do not ignore an email from their drummer when he says he has a new solo/collaborative project. Especially when it is as persuasively wonderful as Pick A Piper appears to be, and has John Schmersal singing in a gentle falsetto all over it. You see, 'All Her Colours' is everything you would expect from someone at the centre of Caribou's circular stage formation, it being the kind of insanely propulsive and downright kind-hearted clatter his regular musical family are known for. 'All Her Colours' has more purpose than anything else this week and it's pretty in the best and least sickly way, and it's worryingly urgent, and just wonderful. - Drowned in Sound


From the moment some gloopy, astrally projected “black sludge” manifests itself on a woman at the beginning of Toronto electro-poppers Pick a Piper‘s “All Her Colours” clip, the power of pigment becomes the video’s focus. Director Matt Yarrington, who makes music clips under the name Abandon Building, humbly describes the Technicolor kaleidoscopic sensory overload that follow simply as “a play on color,” but it’s so much more than that. There are bubbly potions, hallucinations, stop-motion unicycle rides, more astral projection, a summit of good witches and more before it finishes. “The first time I watched it, I thought, Wow, a lot just happened in four minutes; I need to watch it again,” Pick a Piper’s Brad Weber says. “You really need to see this a few times to catch everything. I love that.”

The video’s blink-and-you’ll-miss it warp-speed presentation makes for a stark contrast to Pick a Piper’s serene song, which features guest John Schmersal of Enon and Brainiac, as well as Caribou’s touring lineup. In our interview Weber, who also spends time touring with Caribou, he plays coy about the song’s subject matter, but he does say, “I came up with the original loop for the song on my laptop on an airplane while on tour with Caribou in 2010. I put it on the backburner for quite a while and then finally started to structure it out a year later.” He then sent the tune to Schmersal, who was mixing the record, and he in turn offered to sing on it. “I kind of thought the song would be instrumental at the time, but was open to ideas,” Weber recalls. “What he did was totally perfect and exceeded my expectations of what this track would become.”

Taken by Yarrington’s “manic animations” in other videos, Weber hired the director and gave him carte blanche. To the director, the video, or “audiovisual poem,” as he calls it, is simply a play on color. “It is intended to portray color and light itself, personified as a female human and broken into a collection of archetypal aspects of the ‘oneself,’” he says. “Each color is like a vital center of the whole. The shadow character is the negative aspects of a ‘Macrocosmic Oversoul,’ who, in an effort to harness the power of light and wreak havoc, has trapped ‘White Light’ in a prism and refracted her into the individual colors of the visible spectrum. The dark shadow being is manipulating each of the colors into playing tricks on themselves, keeping them cycling through various pointless games and puzzles in a sense of underwhelming purposelessness, and therein blind to their being all ‘one.’” When we asked Yarrington where such a treatment would have come from, he says, “It was mostly written inside a small geometric dome with a splatter-painted parachute covering.”

In the end, the psychedelic experimentation, which included superimposing one actress, Liz Kelly, seven times in the final scene, was worth it, and Weber says he found himself smiling throughout the whole video. “My favorite parts would probably be the early scenes of the doll in the dream world,” he says. “But everything puts a grin on my face for different reasons.”

Pick a Piper’s self-titled debut will come out April 2 via Mint Records - MTV Hive


Brad Weber shadows as Caribou’s drummer - this new project is a collaborative space with plenty of familiar faces contributing.

Caribou drummer Brad Weber has started a new project - Pick A Piper - based out in Toronto, Canada. Set to release their debut in early 2013, Weber and co. have previewed new material with ‘Lucid in Fjords’.

The track drafts in the vocals of The Ruby Suns’ Ryan McPhun. Brad informs us that this project has plenty of collaborations, all overseen by Weber himself.

‘Lucid in Fjords’ is a fidgety, tense number with a fitting focus on percussion. Loose guitar patterns are confined to their own space, as a flurry of instrumentation accompanies McPhun’s declarations of ‘drink up the potion, and make it so you can dream out loud.’ - DIY Magazine


Since Pick a Piper earned our approval with their self-titled EP in 2009, band leader Brad Weber has been busy playing drums in the live incarnation of Caribou. Now, Weber has returned to Pick a Piper for a debut full-length. This eponymous LP will drop through Mint Records on April 2.

According to a press release, this album finds the band shifting away from their self-described "organic dance music" in favour of a more synthetic sound based around "found-sound samples, synths, electronic percussion, and deftly sequenced helpings of reverb and delay."

That said, the album will contain more of the dense percussion and melodic sensibilities that we're used to hearing from Pick a Piper. It features Weber joined by bandmates Angus Fraser and Dan Roberts, plus guest vocalists from bands like Ruby Suns, Enon/Brainiac, Born Ruffians, and Braids.

John Schmersal of Enon/Brainiac (plus Caribou's live band) sings lead on the percussive, synth-kissed single "All Her Colours," which you can stream below.

Pick a Piper:

1. Lucid in Fjords
2. All Her Colours
3. Cinders and Dust
4. Once Were Leaves
5. South to Polynesia
6. Zenaida
7. Hour Hands
8. Dinghy in a Quiet Cove - Exclaim! Magazine


Discography

PICK A PIPER [2013] (Mint Records / City Slang / Abandon Building)

PICK A PIPER - Remixes [2015] (Abandon Building)

PICK A PIPER - Distance [2017] (Tin Angel / Abandon Building)

Photos

Bio


Ontario electronic experimentalist Brad Weber aka Pick A Piper releases his most gripping and emotional collection of songs yet, Distance, on February 24th, 2017. Weber – also known for his role in dance favourites Caribou – has ventured everywhere from Chernobyl and Guatemala to the Canadian Arctic, northern mountains of Japan and south America since his first release as Pick A Piper. On this new album, he lets that influence show. A bewitching slow-rave travelogue of sounds and stories picked up along the way, it’s a record that simmers with both the excitement of adventuring to these locales, and the melancholy of the people you leave behind to visit them. “It’s a great source of heartache, but also a great source of joy,” Weber explains of an album “about trying to balance connectivity with chronically being away.” Distance, like the scene in all good postcards, you’ll long to return to again and again.

Alongside band mates Angus Fraser and Dan Roberts, Weber has been making music as Pick A Piper since 2009. What started off as a strange campfire folk project has mutated across one EP, a remix album and a self-titled 2013 album into a boundary-pushing polyrhythmic beast that takes influence from ‘70s Turkish psych, classic Afrobeat, synth pioneers like Laurie Spiegel and contemporary club music. Sound eclectic? Wait till you hear Distance. From the Gamelan percussion of ‘January Feels Lost’, inspired by recent trips to Bali, to the hypnotising sway of ‘Further and Further’ – a collaboration with shoegazey J-pop hit-maker LLLL and singer Makota – the album is the first time Weber has “let songs breathe, not forcing them into a common aesthetic.” The result is an collection of tracks that throb with unrestrained ideas and invention. “I’m a fairly positive and reflective person,” says Weber. “But I’m also antsy, restless.”

The stories behind on the songs on Distance are almost as unique as the sounds within. Two tracks emerged from an email sent to the wrong person,” laughs Weber. “Bevan Smith, a friend from New Zealand that I know from the touring band of the Ruby Suns, sent me an email by accident, meaning to actually address a different Brad.” They started sending ideas back and forth that eventually resulted in ‘Geographically Opposed’ and ‘Bathed In Light’, the album’s airy opener and emphatic closer. ‘Still Awake’ meanwhile is about the sleep paralysis Weber has wrestled with since age 18, with ‘Nikko’ named after a Japanese mountain town Brad visited with his wife in the calm of mid-winter.

“I continued to explore natural sounds on Distance while at the same diving deeper into sound design,” says Weber. “I was really enjoying spending hours making interesting synth patches and messing with acoustic sounds. I did a lot more layering on this record, often using 4-5 of said sounds-per-part in an attempt to create leads and chords not immediately recognizable as a specific sound.”

One of the biggest breakthroughs for Weber making this album was “learning to slow things down at times and allow the music to dictate a natural pace... The result is a lot more subtle pieces that break away from our dancefloor-flirting aesthetic of the past.” 


Band Members