Electronics | Batterie | Music | Voice
Beating on overturned saucepans and bowls with whatever served as drumsticks at the age of 4, it was evident that drums were likely in Alan Levesque's future. Prior to finding an eventual home behind a kit however, at 10 he was enamored with the sound of the electric guitar and was convinced he should play one. Six weeks into the lessons, it became evident that the guitar was not to be the instrument of choice after all. It wasn’t until many years later in junior high school that he realized he wanted to play the drums over and above any other instrument. “I would cut out pictures of those sparkle-finish drum sets from Sears’s catalogs and stare at them for hours”. At 14, Alan's mother purchased his first drum set. “It was a poor man’s knock-off of an even cheaper knock off of a Slingerland kit, and it began wearing out and falling apart rather quickly. The cymbals were nothing more than circular chunks of metal that would dent and bend with each stick hit. I would slap on the headphones at every chance and play along to records by Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP, Genesis, all the while being mesmerized by the synthesizers and the sounds they made. I was determined to become a drummer for a progressive rock band. Then along came Gary Numan and everything changed for me. Synths became popular and I wanted one bad. But the costs were staggering so I had to find a job that paid well enough to allow me to buy one… which didn’t happen until many years later.”
At 17, Levesque met a young guitarist (Lorne Reid) and bassist/vocalist (Donald Arychuk) and together the forward-thinking energetic trio formed a prog rock group named Roboxis. The band’s predominantly odd-time, quirky and commercially inaccessible music reached a very small audience mostly made up of classmates, friends and family. Nonetheless, it served as the catalyst that provided Alan the opportunity to contribute melodically and as a songwriter until the young band’s demise three years later. While the other two went off to play the local circuit in cover bands, Levesque opted instead to spend countless hours on his own messing about with microphones, a Synare drum synth, echo devices, reel to reel tape machines and whatever recording equipment that could be found. The majority of the ensuing and predominantly cinematic compositions and noises he produced were far from being anything that could be perceived as conventional music. More importantly, the excercise solidified an obvious disinterest in commercial formula-driven music to be replaced by a penchant for experimental and unstructured genres. "Sometimes I would produce ear bleedingly loud feedback and tape delay loops by overdriving or clipping something.. tweaking it.. adding weird vocal ideas to it and somehow finding a way to record it all. I did this for hours and hours... just to hear the shifting tones and frequencies and being totally entranced by how complex somethig so simple could be. Certain frequencies seem to reach inside you and affect you in a way, and this all without the need for any drugs" he laughs".
Around that time, New Wave and Synth-Pop music were becoming trendy and commercially viable, but more importantly, Dave Simmons introduced his hexagon-shaped electronic drums to the world. "King Crimson’s Discipline album saw Bill Bruford's foray into and endorsement of the Simmons drums and electronic drumming... with formidable results no less. "I was absolutely sick. Bill and the Simmons pads essentially changed my life” says Levesque". Now inspired by both Numan and Bruford, Levesque set out to assemble a kit that was something similar to Mr. Bruford's rig. Once the dust had settled (and the savings account effectively drained) an Ensoniq EPS Sampler and ESQ-1 Synth, several Remo Rototoms and a cluster of yellow Simmons hexagonal drum pads were integral components of Levesque's new hybrid rig. “It allowed me to play melodies and poly-rhythms on the pads or keyboards with my hands while my feet kept the beat. I could do piano in 7's up top with my hands and synth in 4's with my feet just like Bill did. With MIDI, (a technology that facilitates communication to other connected instruments) all musical limitations and boundaries were effectively removed. So too was the immediate need for other musicians. Any sound could be generated on any electronic source and be played back on anything… at any time… and in any configuration! It was nothing short of fantastic! I no longer had to rely on others to reproduce my ideas."
1985. Equipped with new instrumentation and a seemingly endless desire, a now intensely driven Levesque was able to create his own brand of electronically generated music. The drums, synths and samplers served up blank canvases on which anything could be painted, and he was at last able to produce complete compositions wrought from his mind's eye as a solo artist. Many of those works would remain unfinished or reside on floppy disks, but some were ultimately finished and recorded to be distributed in very small quantities under a project he named 'Boys in Factories'. In fact, the only product of its existence is in the form of 10 tracks recorded to a few cassette tapes, one of them landing into the hands of a television station's production department which ultimately led to Levesque being hired to provide music jingles for several TV and Radio adverts. Apart from that, the solo project never left the studio except for having once been featured on a campus radio station (CJSR-FM 88) in Edmonton by an enthusiastic radio DJ named Sandy Middleton. Beyond that, it was back to the studio to continue writing and woodshedding, with the occasional task of providing original scores for several commercial clients and video game designers.
Levesque's still evident determination to continue growing, learning and honing his chops... plus a desire to push himself into unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable and foreign situations as a musician and composer... has led him to partake in and experience unique and otherwise inaccesible opportunities. "When presented with a sudden or unscripted opportunity that requires throwing oneself into new or unknown territory... I believe two things can happen. The first being a refusal to take on the challenge in order to avoid potential embarrassment outside of one's comfort zone... abstain in order to avoid revealing one's perceived limitations as a player. The second being the opposite... going after it full-force and knocking down walls in order to emerge on the other side having accomplished or produced something that would likely have never come to fruition. How would you know what you end up with if you never try?" says the self-described perfectionist. "Besides, the latter helps to build confidence and looks good on the resume."
Lately, the resume-padding is the result of music compositions and scores for film, video, TV jingles and audio Post-Production. "For as long as I can recall, I've wanted to compose music for film, and with all geographical borders practically non existent now due to social media, I can collaborate with artists and creators both locally and anywhere in the world. Technology has helped to expose what were previously exclusive and limited opportunities as a composer. While securing contracts remains highly competitive, the landscape seems a much less an obscure terrain now. People are doing some really cool things and the boundaries are non existent".
With credits that include scores for Sci-Fi Web Series, Documentaries, Jingles for Television and Radio, Computer Games, the quest to score a major film or two remains high on the bucket list.