French Canadian painter and musician Lévi Soulodre is better known as The Pxrtals. His single, ‘Dawn of a Global Community’, is taken from album Un Jour, described as sounding like ‘if Jim Morrison took acid with Roy Orbison and recorded an LP’. We spoke to Lévi about The Pxrtals project and single.
Impassioned, sensitive, mysterious.
So what’s the deal with The Pxtrals? How did the solo project come about?
I’ve done just about everything- from working at HMV, to flooring, to construction grunt work, to snow shovelling for seniors, etc. In high school I played football, hockey, skateboarded, and was in vocal jazz. College was Humanitarian studies. Musically, I’ve played in a bunch of bands since the age of eighteen.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style for The Pxtrals?
I first discovered music through my training in classical violin, but it took a while for me to develop my love for that. My Dad introduced me to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in grade 4, and I remember listening to that song over and over on the ride to school, mesmerised by its otherworldly-ness. Discovering Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins in grades 7/8 absolutely changed my life.
How would you describe the style?
Impassioned, sensitive, mysterious.
What’s the thinking behind the name, The Pxtrals?
Too much thinking, probably. On first look, the spelling “Pxrtals” (Portals with an ‘x’ instead of the ‘o’) seems to mystify people. It’s hard for people to spell initially, which maybe speaks to how emoji’ed our world has become…
It was all about finding a thoughtful band name I’d be excited to make music as until the day I die. There’s a nod to my Dad’s favourite bands: from the classic, “The”-definite article + 2-syllable rock-band name (Beatles, Guess Who, for ex.), and a certain analogous/cosmological reference to The Doors…
The original spelling was “P∞rtals”, but that was making it very hard for people to find the band. The “x” in the name serves as a placeholder for the infinity symbol, while also implying the variable in mathematics which then speaks to the band’s sonic adaptability in encompassing all sorts of sounds and influences. I’m a huge fan of astronomy, so there’s the whole Stargate portal vibe too… if humanity ever ascends to the potential of interstellar travel, it will likely only be through the engineering of space-time wormholes: portals. That’s a fascinating metaphor to employ when making music for people to experience and travel through.
What’s been your highlight of 2017?
Probably when I was facetiming with my friend Voyno early this spring, and he suddenly announced that he’d put out The Pxrtals’ Un Jour album through his newly launched Permanent Touch Records. Instantly, I knew it was ‘On’ from there. It’s pretty serendipitous, considering he’s the same friend who called me in grade 12 to come jam one fateful summer’s day, which then led to our forming our first band.
Tell us about your single ‘Dawn Of a Global Community’. What’s it about?
The song title similarly suggests what the band name is about; potential for change, adaptability through a sense of wonder and exploration. Are we finally living, or seeing a glimpse of, the initial changes towards a fully sustainable earth, which isn’t mired in perpetual violence and border/ethnic conflicts? The availability of fusion, for example, which would easily supply the whole world with clean, renewable energy, is apparently still thirty-some years away. Will the world survive long enough to reach that breakthrough?!
Then on a personal note, the song memorializes my late uncle Léo. He was a builder, the quintessential family man. A true, ‘working-class hero’ as John put it. The kind of person I aspire to be; the kind of person who was building towards a global community.
When did you write the single and where did you record it?
The song was written in 2014-2015, and came together in full during a writing retreat deep in the North-west Canadian forest - which held a very special place in Léo’s heart. It was recorded in Saskatoon, Canada at Ghetto Box - literally a relocated small-town community hall building that was painstakingly renovated, and filled with a bunch of vintage keyboards and synths.
What are your hopes for ‘Dawn Of a Global Community’?
For the song? For people to enjoy it! To be able to share it with the world.
For the song’s implied meaning, for people of the world to finally find peace, for the well-being of our children, who are growing up in horrors of a world they couldn’t possibly make sense of, until it is too late. For a fool’s hope for things to finally change and balance out towards a fair standard of living for every single being on the planet.
When and where can we expect to see you on tour next?
2018 is going to be very exciting. I’m releasing Un Jour, and then quickly following that up with its companion/counterpoint album for the spring. Then, planning to play wherever and whenever we can.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Grade 6 camping trip: Don’t sulk in the back of the tent, expecting pity from my classmates… self-guilt nearly destroyed me. If someone teases you or pants you in front of everyone, own it! Try to laugh it off. It’s not a big deal at all in the grand scheme of things. Fuck it. That’s what I would tell 12-year old me. I’d probably now be living a totally different multiverse version of me if that were the case, though!
Listen to ‘Dawn Of a Global Community’ on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates go to The Pxrtals Facebook page.