A singer/songwriter, film composer, and pianist based in Montreal, Canada, Patrick Watson makes explorative chamber pop with his band -- also called Patrick Watson -- often blending spare indie pop, synthesizer experiments, cinematic orchestral song, and a melancholy tone. The group's second album, 2006's Close to Paradise, won the Polaris Prize. After composing music for several short films, Watson made his feature-length debut with It's Not Me, I Swear! in 2008. Released in 2015, Love Songs for Robots became his band's fourth straight album to reach Canada's Top Ten, and he found success again in 2019 with the arrival of his sixth long-player Wave.
Though he was born in California, Patrick Watson was raised outside of Montreal in Hudson, Quebec. After singing in local church choirs as a boy, he sang and played keyboards in the ska band Gangster Politics while in high school. They released an eponymous LP via Stomp Records in 1998. After graduating, he left the band and began to explore other types of music, including electronica and ambient, and went on to study jazz and classical piano performance, composition, and arranging at Vanier College in Montreal. In 2001, he released the album Waterproof9, which consisted of experimental music accompaniment to a photo book by Brigitte Henry titled Waterproof. In 2002, he decided to start a four-piece chamber pop group, bringing in bassist Mishka Stein, drummer Robbie Kuster (both of whom he had met at university), and former Gangster Politics guitarist Simon Angell. The group, which was technically still a solo project with a backing band, released Just Another Ordinary Day and began performing around Canada. They were booked at the 2005 Pop Montreal Festival, a show that led to the formation of Secret City Records, the label that issued Watson's sophomore album, Close to Paradise (which featured the same band), in 2006. Also charting in France and the Netherlands, it reached number four on Canada's album chart, and, in 2007, was awarded the Polaris Prize.
Around that time, Watson began scoring short films, including 2006's Gravity Boy and 2007's Neuf. He scored his first features, It's Not Me, I Swear! and Hidden Diary in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Patrick Watson's third full-length album, Wooden Arms, also arrived in 2009 and made the shortlist for that year's Polaris Music Prize. It peaked at number six in Canada. The pared-down Adventures in Your Own Backyard followed in 2012 and climbed to number two on the album chart, and the ambient-leaning Love Songs for Robots reached number three upon its release in 2015. The latter featured prior collaborator Joe Grass on guitar in place of Angell.
In the meantime, Watson continued to compose music for shorts, documentaries, and theatrical features. His score for the 2016 thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax saw release by Varèse Sarabande that September. In 2017, he returned with the stand-alone single "Broken," which found its way onto several TV series, including Grey's Anatomy and The Good Doctor. He also contributed to Tower of Songs, a tribute concert to Leonard Cohen in Montreal that also included Elvis Costello, Philip Glass, and Lana Del Rey, among others. In mid-2018, he issued another single, "Melody Noir," before following up with the French song "Mélancholie" featuring Quebecois singer Safia Nolin. It was issued by Secret City Records in conjunction with the start of a European tour. In 2019 Watson issued the inward-looking studio LP -- his sixth full-length effort -- Wave. ~ Marcy Donelson