Moncton native Eldon Thiele has never been shy about letting his artistic outlet Zwerg explore different facets of his musical personality.
His newest offering, the electro-pop influenced Dual Citizen, is definitive proof of his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone and take chances where he deems it necessary.
“I’ve been criticized for years for incorporating too much diversity into my work,” Thiele says. “As a musician, however, it has always been more important to expand and grow creatively. Interestingly though, I think this new record is the only record for which I’ve been told ‘the songs sound too similar.’ In my view, I have never really fit into any kind of music scene though. The purpose of Zwerg has always been to advocate singularity and individuality – not to ascribe solely to one particular milieu.
“The theme of this record deals with knocking down the walls that divide people from each other, as well as with renouncing the compartmentalization of the self. Brave artists who relinquish the confines of classification and start fusing genres are always pilloried, but often end up being lauded as pioneers of musical movements which end up capturing the zeitgeist. I’m not equating myself with these artists, but it’s these people who go against the grain who inspire me.”
Upon first listen, one can identify themes of honesty running throughout the songs on Dual Citizen. The songs on his seventh release do not revel in abstract details but are rather straightforward, as though Thiele had made peace with both himself as well as any potential detractors while making the newest Zwerg album.
“In some ways, I betrayed the original intent of Zwerg for a time as I was trying to fit in, which was, looking back, hypocritical of me. There was a time where my priority became about making a living, so I thought I had to compromise a lot of things,” he said.
“With Dual Citizen, there are no apologies. At heart, I’m more of an avant-gardist, but this is an out and proud dance-pop/rock record, which in keeping with the album’s theme, does fuse elements from different styles, but also makes an unambiguous statement. It’s pretty honest in that respect.”
To help bring Dual Citizen to life, Thiele enlisted the help of Canadian producer John Philip Shenale, best-known for his work with The Bangles, John Hiatt and Tori Amos. The two struck up a friendship on social media network Myspace last decade, with Shenale providing Thiele encouragement to follow his muse.
It was Shenale’s approach to music that was the ultimate selling point for Thiele.
“I had been a longtime fan of his cinematic arrangements, especially on Tori Amos albums, which I found reminiscent of composers like Arvo Part and Stravinsky,” Thiele says. “He seems to combine modernist, post-modernist and classical approaches to arranging music. It’s a combination that seems to lend itself well to the pop format.”
With music videos for album tracks “Home Is Where…” and “Saalem Song” already done and available for consumption, Thiele is in the midst of creating and editing videos for the remaining nine songs on Dual Citizen.
An ambitious project to be certain, but coming from an artist who has consistently stuck by his guns, it is not an impossible feat by any means.
“I’m the type of person who likes to do one thing at a time and do it well,” Thiele says. “I can’t handle having too many irons in the fire at any given time. Putting my energy into promotion and these videos is a different approach to marketing for me. I’m really looking forward to putting together a live set at some point, but in the meantime, I have nine more music videos to keep me busy.”