Best of What's Next: Rich Aucoin

Music Features Rich Aucoin
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Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Album: Public Publication
For Fans Of: Girl Talk, Dan Deacon, electronic-pop, confetti

Seventy miles northeast of Atlanta, Rich Aucoin finds himself in a small, decrepit three-bedroom flat. This house, commonly known as the Plush Palace, transforms from off-campus housing into a DIY-concert venue on weekends. Despite coming from 1,600 miles away from his home of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to play in a 12-foot by 12-foot living room to a crowd of 50 people that have never heard of him, Aucoin couldn’t be happier. “I want to get everyone singing at these. As soon as I start doing it, I want to do it more and more,” he explains. “Condensed shows force me to be in the crowd more.”

Rich Aucoin channels the traditions of energetic electronic performance artists Girl Talk and Dan Deacon. Like these two, he likes to blur the line between performer and concertgoer, and he seems to intuitively understand what it takes to turn a static crowd into a dynamic dance party. Aucoin knows how to work a room so well that he seems posed to become the Canadian answer to these American party starters.

Admittedly, he’s been influenced by both these frenetic musical technicians and the way they dare onlookers not to take part in his unifying show rituals. “That’s just a mixing of all my favorite shows that I’ve seen,” he says, “ Flaming Lips, Girl Talk, Dan Deacon, any hardcore show I’ve been to. I love when a show can start off with that energy.”

The attention-grabbing components are intently overt—colorful kindergarten parachutes, YouTube multimedia interludes between songs, sillystring, confetti. While the over-the-top novelty is what immediately draws people in, his ability to engage turns spectators into fans. Back at the Plush Palace, it took him roughly three songs to turn an overstuffed room into a sweat box filled with fans watching him, surrounding him, even crowdsurfing over him in a room with nine-foot ceilings. In forty-five minutes, Aucoin went from the courteous Canadian supporting act to the one person that could loosen the ties of even the soberest of individuals at this makeshift event.

But the joyful, no-holds-barred live act represents only side of Aucoin—he’s just as innovative in the studio. His first record, Personal Publication, arose from a highly personal immersion into recording, creating the album by himself from start to finish. On his debut effort, which purposely plays in sync with How The Grinch Stole Christmas (doing well enough to at the very least earn him a cease-and-desist from the Dr. Seuss estate), the lifelong musician played approximately 20 different instruments. “For the first time, I did it on my own because I was green and didn’t want to bother anyone,” he explains.

Over the past three years, however, Aucoin has moved to the opposite extreme, making a follow-up record featuring over 500 musicians. “With this one, I just started to invite friends and they told their friends and I definitely didn’t want to leave anyone wanting,” he says. “So I invited everyone.”

After writing the initial parts for Public Publication, Aucoin spent an entire year capturing the contributions of not just hundreds of participants for his record, but actual musicians playing on the forthcoming effort. “I ended up running my day like a doctor’s office wherever I was and had appointments on the hour every hour,” Aucoin says.

While the electronic-artist-turned-musical-MD is slowly putting the final touches on his larger-than-life work, he continues to take over a new batch of unsuspecting individuals in whatever-sized venue he can get his hands on, be it the Plush Palace or Hangout Music Fest where he’s scheduled to perform next month. If he continues converting crowds in this manner, it won’t be long before this Nova Scotian leaves the living rooms behind for good.