For Dayton Bowen, the artist behind WAX DOG, everything stems from a desire to create complex, immersive, and original pieces that move people the same way his favourite music moves him. He’s pulled creative inspiration for his experimental universe from artists like Car Seat Headrest and The Hellp, who shaped his adolescence and hold a special place in his heart.
These artists managed to create what Dayton considers “good songs” – – meaning songs that “move deeply, maybe even in an aggressive way,” or ones that “capture the listener without letting them go, whether that be because of their themes or their melodies.” This is what the young producer wishes to re-create in his music.
A Blend of Concepts and Genres: An Experimental Sound
Recently, Dayton’s music has been inspired by various genres. “Currently, my biggest influences are probably post-rock, breakbeat, and math rock. I’m a huge fan of the rich textures created in post-rock, the complex and energetic rhythms in breakbeats, the mesmerizing and fast melodies in math rock, and the harsh, raw vocals that are found in all three,” he says.
There are several reasons for which WAX DOG classifies his music as experimental. “First of all, I tend to blend elements from all my favourite genres which gives my music a more unique, hard- to- place sound.”
This genre- bending also expresses itself in his composition and arrangement methods, seeing as he uses unconventional sounds and unexpected instruments for the type of songs he produces. “For example, I play the saxophone in my post-rock song STEAMFREIGHTS and I use modular synths in my more indie compositions, like BETTEROFFINOURLIVES. Also, I’m fascinated by song structures that deviate from the standard ‘verse and chorus’, like on my song TURNCOATS.”
“Learn the rules, but make sure to break them till you have no clue how you got to where you are.”
Having started playing guitar in high school, Dayton finds in it and in the saxophone to be the two most important tools for his composition process. These last few years, the sax has taken priority. “Even if it doesn’t really fit into all the music I create, I find it allows the melodies to come to me really easily,” he explains.
On top of that, as a teenager, he quickly learned multiple other instruments like the piano, the drums, and the bass. Today, he isacts as the main instrumentalist in his music. “Although I do play all the instruments in the majority of my compositions, this is out of convenience rather than principle. I often find that when collaborating with others, I end up enjoying the final product a lot more. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s better but, in some way, it’s nice to separate myself from my art.”
In the midst of the production process, WAX DOG could not do without his Korg Minilogue XD synth. “If I hadn’t seized the opportunity and bought this synth, I don’t think music would have ever become more than just a hobby for me. When I got it, I only had a basic understanding of sound design. But something in the layout, and the idea of being able to create my own unique sounds made me fall deeply in love with music,” he explains.
It’s this particular feeling that pushed the former computer science student to pursue his passion and to sign up for RAC’s audio production program in Montreal. He wanted to refine his skills to better serve his goals and those of his other musical venture, his band Good Luck Madeleine. He confirms today that RAC has influenced his work in a major way by putting what he’d learned from his personal projects into practice. “Studying at RAC has had a huge impact on my work. I was able to lose my bad habits and find alternative methods that have saved me a ton of time.”
What to Expect from Upcoming Albums
Currently, Dayton is dedicated to his training, putting a pause on live shows. He plans on putting together a few live sets when he’s back in Vancouver, next August. You’ll also soon be able to hear his upcoming albums that are in the works right now. He hints at a first release that will highlight electronic sounds, and a second one that will focus more on indie and math rock –- all while keeping the signature WAX DOG sound.
Written by Caroline Boivin
Translated by Ari Mazur
Illustration by Yihong Guo