Many artists choose assumed names for a measure of creative freedom. Like putting on a mask, there's something about a pseudonym that can lower one's inhibitions and allow one to honestly express oneself, ironically, through a different identity.
Patrick Holland is over that, though. The Canadian DJ/producer recently dropped his artist moniker, "Project Pablo," and will go by his birth name in all future endeavors, save for a few already announced DJ sets such as the one at ATV Records in Miami this Saturday, February 22.
"It's something I've been wanting to do for years," he tells New Times by phone from Berlin, where he's hunting through record stores in the hip Kreuzberg neighborhood. "I started the 'Project Pablo' moniker when I was like 20 or 21. And I'm 28 now, so it's been a bit, and I've done a lot since then and processed a lot and think differently when it comes to art and music. So it feels good to be doing [music] under my own name now. It feels more personal."
Personal is an apt description for his latest release, "Up to You." Shared as a digital-only single, the effects-heavy house track sounds bright and optimistic, similar to staring at a blue sky with white clouds much like the warped ones on its cover art. There's more where that came from too: The poppy, three-minute piano house track "Still" — which features vocals by London singer Tiberius b — will be out February 18 and marks Holland's second song shared publicly under this birth name.
"I picture it as being the first proper song that I release," Holland says.
It's a slightly different direction for a guy who made his name on various record labels, including London's Magicwire and 1080p Collection. The latter imprint, which is based in Holland's hometown of Vancouver, played a large part in pioneering the so-called outsider house scene of the mid-2010s. Records such as the Project Pablo LP I Want to Believe took influence from '70s adult contemporary and ambient music to engineer a distinctively easygoing take on house that worked as well for the club as for bedroom listening. House for the home, in other words.
The Montreal-based musician has evolved quite a bit since his initial releases. His most recent records shift between musical sensibilities quite ably, veering from the shimmery electro of Low Wings to the ambient house and smooth, acid-influenced melodic techno of Inside Unsolved.
Whatever Holland tries, the results are always fascinating.
"I put out four records in 2019, and I see them all being pretty darn different from each other," he says. "If you hear them all together, they're everything from making a 140 BPM euro-dance vocal track, to obviously making electro, and then more healthy stuff, and then even some ambient [songs] in there too."
Ironically, Holland began his music career far removed from the world of dance. He started out studying composition at Simon Fraser University in suburban Vancouver and working on "esoteric," electro-acoustic, and orchestral music. He found himself more satisfied working on dance music and eventually dropped out to move to Montreal. "Going to school and learning how to write music properly in the academic world definitely helps with the way I do stuff now," he says.
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He may soon come full circle, though. In keeping with his new direction and new-old name, Holland says some of the music he's working on might leave the dance floor behind.
"I'm always trying to progress into something a little different," he says. "A big thing I'm trying to do or what I'm working on is album-sort-of-focused music — so less dance music-y and more listening music, I guess you could say."
Until listeners get to hear his upcoming project, there'll always be his body of work thus far — and one of his final sets as Project Pablo — to enjoy.