Navigating A Bad Trip with Petra Glynt
Alexandra Mackenzie is the eclectic auteur of the Canadian-based Petra Glynt. Her colorful demeanor somewhat contrasts her brooding, booming songs that cover brash themes. She uses music to make sense of all the political bullshit and systematic issues that keep her up at night. Trading activism for albums, she’s stepped away from the front lines to create a soundtrack energizing those arguably braver than she - but she hasn’t lost her boldness.
Where does your band name come from?
The name is a riff on the words petro glyph, rock drawings/carvings that describe events in the culture at hand. I twisted them into something that sounded more like a name. As a visual artist and musician making electronic music that's engaged with the current social climate, I felt it made sense.
How would you define your sound & how did it develop?
I have a classical voice/music background, then became a punk drummer, then improviser, noise maker, now producer. It's very broad and it comes through in the music. When I started this project, it was out of a realization that I could write my own songs and that I wanted to learn to record myself - up until then I'd sang a dead composers music or played drums in bands. Thats how I sort of fell into the role of producer because the music I wanted the make necessitated a practice of recording constantly and using electronic machines and tools. The sound is very explorative, experimental and it doesn't conform to genre. I love percussion so sometimes that's what drives the music. It has many moods because I get bored of genre and style and need to change it up. So that's why you hear many shifts in sound and style on the new record.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote in your life? What was it about?
Man, when I was a kid I would sing gibberish and write licks on the piano, I don't recall if any of them turned into actual songs. I think my first release the Of The Land Ep are legit my first songs ever.
What’s Montreal’s music scene like?
I used to live in Toronto and played music there for ten years before moving to Montreal. I love Montreal and I’m so glad I made the choice for a number of reasons - the music scene is definitely alive and there is much to explore. Since I moved there, I have been working on my practice (music, art, skating, etc) more than going out like I used to. All I can tell you is that there's all kinds of radical music happening all the time.
You have a background in activism, tell me more about that and how you utilize music as a movement?
My background in activism is very short lived because it occurred to me that if I got arrested it might jeopardize my ability to tour and do the things I love. I think my contribution as a musician could be stronger and have a different impact than direct action. I want to empower people directly. It's easy to fall into an apathetic state right now, when all of the leaders being elected are the opposite ones to whom we'd elect. I don't think my music is going to make change, it's the people who will, and they need all the support they can get and I think music can be part of that.
Your debut was about a (presumably) bad “trip,” tell me a bit more about that record
Yeah the bad trip is just how knee deep we are in a capitalism that exploits every single resource imaginable; so much that the scars and wealth divide is something you can visibly see, in the land, in the changing weather, and in the people. The record is all over place, but it's mostly a sobering call to attention and action to protect all things sacred.
What’s your latest record about?
This record was written across a long period of time and has a number of themes running through it from surveillance, anxieties over feeling straddled between the real and the virtual, social inclusivity, #MeToo, feminism, ravaging the planet's resources, health vs wealth, the concept of work... there's a lot going on. This record encompasses many of my responses to real things going on in the world, things I feel I don't have much control over but can harness and express through music. I hope that listeners can also find these things relatable as they are issues that we all face in our daily lives.