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 after commencing lessons, he promptly quit upon recognizing that the guitar was not the instrument of choice after all. It wasn’t until many years later… and after enrolling in his junior high school’s music program… that he realized he wanted to be a drummer. “I would cut out pictures of sparkle-finish drum sets from Sears’s catalogs and stare at them for hours”. At 14, and with his music instructor’s recommendation, Alan's mother purchased his first drum set. “It was a poor man’s knock-off of an even cheaper kit, and it began wearing out and falling apart rather quickly. The cymbals were nothing more than circular hunks 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. 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 was introduced to a young guitarist (Lorne Reid) and bassist/vocalist (Donald Arychuk). Together the forward-thinking energetic trio formed a prog rock group called Roboxis. The band’s predominantly odd-time, quirky and commercially inaccessible music reached a very small audience mostly made up of friends and family. Nonetheless, it served as the catalyst that provided an 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 they revealed an obvious disinterest in commercial formula-driven music and a penchant for more experimental and open genres. "Sometimes I would get loud feedback loops going by overdriving or clipping something.. tweaking it.. and simply listening to the shifting tones and frequencies for hours... and being totally entranced by that. Certain frequencies seem to reach inside you and affect you in a way, and this all without a need for any drugs" he laughs.
By then, new wave and synth-driven pop music was becoming trendy and commercially viable, and Dave Simmons soon introduced his hexagon-shaped electronic drums to the world. "King Crimson’s Discipline album saw Bill Bruford's foray into and endorsement of electronic drumming... with formidable results no less. I was absolutely sick. Bill and the Simmons pads essentially changed my life” says Levesque. Inspired by both Numan and Bruford, Levesque set out to assemble something similar to Mr. Bruford's rig. Once the dust had settled (and the savings account effectively drained) an Ensoniq EPS Sampler, ESQ-1 Synth, several Remo Rototoms and a cluster of yellow Simmons hexagonal drum pads were now 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 and synth in 4's with my feet or whatever. With MIDI, (a technology that facilitates communication to other connected instruments) all musical limitations and boundaries were removed. So too was the immediate need for other musicians. Any sound could be generated and played back on anything… at any time… and in any configuration! It was nothing short of fantastic!”
1985. Equipped with new instrumentation and a seemingly endless desire, a now intense and 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 without a need for other musicians. Many of those works would remain incomplete or reside as files 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 clients and video game designers.
Today, Levesque's 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. "By taking chances... throwing oneself into new or unknown territory as an artist... I believe two things can happen. The first being a refusal or fear to try new things simply to avoid potential embarrassment or abstaining 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 familiar walls in order to emerge on the other side having accomplished or produced something that would likely have never come to fruition..." says the self-described perfectionist. "Besides, the latter looks good on the resume."
For the past while, the resume-padding has taken the form of music composition and scores for film, video, TV jingles and multimedia. "For as long as I can recall, I've wanted to compose music for film, and with all geographical borders practically non existent 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 obscure terrain now." With credits that include scores for Sci-Fi Web Series, Documentaries, Jingles for Television and Radio, PC games and Computer Games, the quest to score a major film or two remains high on the bucket list...
Keyboards | Voice
Allie began playing piano at the age of 5 and eventually went on to study classical music with the Royal Conservatory. Never being completely satisfied with settling on one particular instrument or genre, she learned to play the trumpet, french horn, and bagpipes. As a piper in her high school Drum and Pipe Band, the group won several awards and were invited to perform at numerous Massed Bands and Tattoo events… one of which included a very rare opportunity to stand and perform amidst members of the Scots Guard Pipe Band… an event Allie will forever cherish.
As the 80’s saw grunge, post-punk, new wave, and electronic dance music become the mainstream, the music of Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division, OMD, Erasure and Alphaville soon found regular rotation in Allie’s playlists. With a penchant for technology, she quickly embraced the precision and perfection that electronic music served up. Eventually introduced to the music of Voice Industrie by way of an internet radio broadcast in 2003, she joined the band in 2004.
In addition to fulfilling her role as keyboardist with VI, she endeavors to continue learning and growing as an artist by pushing beyond her musical and personal limitations and familiarities, some of which include studying jazz music and taking on roles as an actress in theatre production.