Owen Pallett

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Owen Pallett
Pallett performing at Coachella 2010
Pallett performing at Coachella 2010
Background information
Birth nameMichael James Owen Pallett-Plowright
Born (1979-09-07) September 7, 1979 (age 44)
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Musician
  • composer
  • arranger
  • Violin
  • viola
  • vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • guitar
  • bass

Michael James Owen Pallett-Plowright[1] (born September 7, 1979), known professionally as Owen Pallett, is a Canadian composer, violinist, keyboardist, and vocalist. Under their former pseudonym Final Fantasy, Pallett won the 2006 Polaris Music Prize for the album He Poos Clouds. Pallett is also known for their contributions to Arcade Fire, having toured with the band and been credited as an arranger and instrumentalist on each of their studio albums. In January 2014, Pallett and Arcade Fire member William Butler were nominated for Best Original Score at the 86th Academy Awards for their original score of the film Her (2013).

From the age of 3, Pallett studied classical violin, and composed their first piece at age 13. A notable early composition includes some of the music for the game Traffic Department 2192; Pallett moved on to scoring films, to composing two operas while in university. Apart from the indie music scene, Pallett has had commissions from the Barbican, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Ballet of Canada, Bang on a Can, Ecstatic Music Festival, the Vancouver CBC Orchestra, and Fine Young Classicals. They have been noted for their live performances, wherein Pallett plays the violin into a loop pedal; Pallett uses Max/MSP and SooperLooper to do multi-phonic looping, which sends their violin signal to amplifiers across the stage.

Aside from their solo oeuvre and work with Arcade Fire, Pallett has contributed arrangements and instrumentation to the works of pop acts like Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Robbie Williams, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, as well as rock performers such as R.E.M., Linkin Park, Franz Ferdinand, the National and Alex Turner.


Solo work[edit]

Pallett has drawn inspiration from electronic act Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD),[2][3] who were Pallett's favorite band, along with Eurythmics.[4] They have also identified albums by Tori Amos, The Strokes, Public Enemy and Brian Eno as influential.[3] Pallett's favorite album is Xiu Xiu's A Promise.[5] The name Final Fantasy, under which Pallett recorded prior to the release of Heartland, was a tribute to the well-known video game series, although Pallett said that it is not one of their top twenty favorite games.[6]

Final Fantasy performing in 2005.

Pallett's debut album, Has a Good Home,[7] was released on February 12, 2005, by the Blocks Recording Club, a cooperative, Toronto-based record label of which Pallett is a founding member. "An Arrow in the Side of Final Fantasy" borrows the music from the Space Zone's final level in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. "Adventure.exe" from this album was used in a series of 2006 commercials by Orange in the United Kingdom. Pallett did not intend to sell the song for this purpose, but its use was authorized due to an alleged miscommunication with their record label, Tomlab.[citation needed] All of Pallett's income from this use is donated to Doctors Without Borders.

Pallett's second album, He Poos Clouds, was released in June 2006, though the video, directed by Jesse Ewles, was released on March 1, 2006. The album consists entirely of string quartet arrangements. Eight of the ten songs are about each of the schools of magic as described in the rules to the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. The album was named winner of the 2006 Polaris Music Prize.[8] Uncomfortable with receiving a prize sponsored by a mobile phone conglomerate, Pallett gave the money away to bands they liked who needed financial assistance.[9]

In 2007, the song "This Is The Dream of Win & Regine" was used in a commercial for Wiener Stadtwerke without Pallett's permission. Instead of litigation, Pallett and their booking agent Susanne Herrndorf approached the company for sponsorship for a music festival of their curation. The resultant Maximum Black Festival featured Final Fantasy, The Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof, Frog Eyes, Max Tundra, Six Organs of Admittance and others. It played Vienna, Berlin and London.

In July 2007, Pallett was interviewed on the CBC Radio One program Q, about their upcoming album, to be titled Heartland, which was to have a theme of nothingness.[10] In September 2007, they did a Take-Away Show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon.

In October 2007, Final Fantasy released a vinyl 7" on Tomlab's Alphabet Single series (The Letter "X"). The two tracks on "X", recorded in Montreal with Zach Condon of the band Beirut, predate the album He Poos Clouds. The tracks "Hey Dad" and "What Do You Think Will Happen Next?" are both played regularly at live shows. The song "Hey Dad" contains a melody borrowed from the Nintendo video game "Super Mario Bros. 3"; specifically it is the music from the "Coin Heaven" bonus/hidden stages. Also, the song is quite similar in melody, lyrics and tone to another of Pallett's songs, "→".

In March 2008, Owen Pallett, under the alias Final Fantasy, collaborated with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste on a cover of Björk's "Possibly Maybe" as part of Stereogum's tribute to Björk's album Post.[11] On their Final Fantasy releases, Pallett has collaborated with Leon Taheny, who is credited as drummer and engineer.

In Fall 2008, Pallett released two EPs. The first one, Spectrum, 14th Century, was a collaboration with Beirut. The second EP, Plays to Please, was a tribute to fellow Torontonian Alex Lukashevsky and his group Deep Dark United. On it, six Lukashevsky originals were reconfigured for a 35-piece big band, the Toronto-based St. Kitts Orchestra (which includes Drumheller's Nick Fraser, Paul Mathew of the Hidden Cameras, and a whistling Andrew Bird, among others).[12]

In December 2009, Pallett began performing and recording under their own name. The album Heartland was released on Domino Records on January 12, 2010. It was mixed by New York producer Rusty Santos. Also Pallett played Primavera Sound Festival 2010.[13] In August 2010, Pallett released a four track EP entitled A Swedish Love Story on September 28 via Domino. The tracks received substantial airplay on community radio.[14] Following the release of Heartland, Pallett has toured with guitarist/percussionist Thomas Gill[15] and more recently with Rob Gordon and Matt Smith, their former collaborators in Les Mouches.[16]

On November 12, 2012, Pallett tweeted that they had been working on a new album called In Conflict.[17] The album, their fourth full-length recording, was released May 27, 2014.[18]

In live performances, Pallett plays the violin into a loop pedal. Pallett uses Max/MSP and SooperLooper to do multi-phonic looping, which sends their violin signal to amplifiers across the stage.[19]

Other contributions[edit]

Pallett playing live in Brussels, 2010-03-23.

Pallett's previous projects included a now-defunct three-piece Toronto-based band, Les Mouches. Pallett also played fiddle for a short time with the Celtic rock band Enter the Haggis. Pallett was once the violinist of another Toronto band called Picastro, and briefly played keyboard in SS Cardiacs (with Leon Taheny, Jessie Stein and Michael Small in 2005). Pallett has also recorded and toured with Jim Guthrie, The Hidden Cameras, Royal City, The Vinyl Cafe, Gentleman Reg, and Arcade Fire (they co-wrote the strings arrangement for their albums Funeral and Neon Bible).[20] One of their songs, "This Is the Dream of Win & Regine", was inspired by the principal members of the latter group, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne,[20] and is a play on a Dntel song called, "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan."

Pallett contributed remixes for the bands Stars, Grizzly Bear, and Death from Above 1979. Pallett also wrote string arrangements for the Canadian bands Immaculate Machine, on their 2007 album Fables, and Fucked Up, on their 2006 album Hidden World. Pallett also wrote the string arrangements for the Beirut album The Flying Club Cup, as well as provided vocals for the track "Cliquot".[21] Most recently, Pallett provided orchestration for The Age of the Understatement, the debut album of the English supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets, formed by co-frontmen Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Miles Kane (The Rascals). Pallett also conducted the London Metropolitan Orchestra in the recording of this project.

In June 2009, at Luminato, Toronto's annual festival of arts and creativity, Pallett provided part of the live soundtrack for the outdoor screening (at Yonge-Dundas Square) of the 1919 silent German horror film Tales of the Uncanny, alongside Canadian instrumental band Do Make Say Think and German electronica artist Robert Lippok.[22]

In 2009, Pallett worked with Win Butler and Régine Chassagne on the score for Richard Kelly's film The Box.[23] Pallett was also initially set to score Rabbit Hole, a 2010 film by John Cameron Mitchell,[24] but in the end, the film was scored by Anton Sanko.

In 2010, Pallett recorded with Arcade Fire during sessions for their 2010 album The Suburbs, which later received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.[25] In late 2010, Pallett was named as composer for T Magazine's "Fourteen Actors Acting" project; Pallett received, alongside the producers of that series, an Emmy Award for "New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Arts, Lifestyle and Culture".[26]

In 2012, Pallett collaborated with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, when several songs from Transcendental Youth were performed in concert with the all-female vocal quartet Anonymous 4 and featured Pallett's arrangements for piano, guitar and voices.[27]

Pallett scored the 2013 film The Wait, directed by M. Blash.

Pallett's string arrangements are featured on the songs "Wear" and "Trust" from the 2021 album Ignorance by The Weather Station.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Pallett was born in Mississauga, Ontario and grew up in Milton.[29] Pallett received an Honours Bachelor of Music for Composition from the University of Toronto in 2002.[30] Pallett is gay, identifies as gender-queer, and uses gender-neutral pronouns.[31][32]


With Les Mouches[edit]

  • The Polite Album (CD-R) – 2002
  • Blood Orgy!!! (EP) – 2003
  • You're Worth More to Me Than 1000 Christians – 2004 (rereleased via Orchid Tapes in 2015)

Solo work[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Soundtrack albums[edit]



Various songs[edit]

Other contributions[edit]

Year Artist Album Description
2002 Jim Guthrie Morning Noon Night
2003 Jim Guthrie Now, More Than Ever violins, viola, string arrangements
The Hidden Cameras The Smell of Our Own violin, viola
2004 The Hidden Cameras The Arms of His 'Ill' viola on "Builds the Bone"
The Hidden Cameras Mississauga Goddam violin, piano, celeste
Arcade Fire Funeral violin, string arrangements
Gentleman Reg Darby & Joan string arrangements
Dan Goldman Through a Revolution
Royal City Little Heart's Ease
Death from Above 1979 Romance Bloody Romance: Remixes & B-Sides violin on "Black History Month"
2005 Picastro Metal Cares viola
Grizzly Bear Horn of Plenty "Don't Ask" – Remix
2006 Grizzly Bear Yellow House string arrangements
Fucked Up Hidden World string arrangements
2007 Arcade Fire Neon Bible orchestral arrangements, violin
C'mon Bottled Lightning (of an All Time High) string arrangements
Great Lake Swimmers Ongiara string arrangements
Beirut The Flying Club Cup violin, organ, vocals on "Cliquot", string arrangements
Immaculate Machine Immaculate Machine's Fables violin
Montag Going Places vocals on "Softness, I Forgot Your Name"
Picastro Whore Luck piano on "Hortur", violin and organ on "All Erase"
Holy Fuck LP violin on "Lovely Allen"[34]
Stars Do You Trust Your Friends? "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" – Remix
The Phonemes There's Something We've Been Meaning to Tell You back-up singing on "Pain Perdu", violin and piano on "Kim Rogers", guitar on "Pine Needles"
2008 Luxury Pond Luxury Pond string quartet arrangements
The Last Shadow Puppets The Age of the Understatement arranged and conducted orchestrations
2009 The Rumble Strips Welcome to the Walk Alone violin, string arrangements
Pet Shop Boys Yes orchestral arrangements
The Mountain Goats The Life of the World to Come violin, string arrangements
Mika The Boy Who Knew Too Much violin on "Rain"
2010 Arcade Fire The Suburbs String arrangements
Gigi Maintenant vocals on "I'll Quit"
Diamond Rings "Something Else" single piano, string arrangements on "Gentleman Who Fell"[35]
Duran Duran All You Need Is Now string arrangements, conductor on "The Man Who Stole a Leopard"
2011 The Luyas Too Beautiful to Work strings and string arrangements
Alex Turner Submarine soundtrack string arrangements on "Piledriver Waltz"
The National "Exile Vilify" single strings
Jim Guthrie Sword & Sworcery LP: The Ballad of the Space Babies violin on "The Cloud"
R.E.M. Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 orchestral arrangements on "We All Go Back to Where We Belong" and "Hallelujah"
Snow Patrol Fallen Empires orchestral arrangements, conductor
2012 Linkin Park Living Things strings on "I'll Be Gone"
Lindstrøm De Javu/No Release 12" "No Release" – Remix (feat. Steve Kado)
Titus Andronicus Local Business violin
Taylor Swift Red orchestral arrangements, conductor on "The Last Time"
Robbie Williams Take the Crown orchestral arrangements on "Candy", "Different" and "Into the Silence"
Slim Twig A Hound at the Hem string arrangements
2013 The National Trouble Will Find Me strings on "I Need My Girl"
David Lang Death Speaks violin[36]
Light Fires Face vocals on "Dependent"
Franz Ferdinand Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action strings & string arrangement on "Stand on the Horizon"
Arcade Fire Reflektor strings & string arrangement
2014 Marram Sun Choir vocals on "With Us Instead"
Sarah Neufeld Black Ground EP arrangement on "Breathing Black Ground (Orchestral Version)"[37]
Jennifer Castle Pink City string arrangements
Caribou Our Love violin, viola
2015 Titus Andronicus The Most Lamentable Tragedy string arrangements, violin, viola
Majical Cloudz Are You Alone? cello, drums, violin
2016 The Last Shadow Puppets Everything You've Come to Expect string and brass arrangements
Majical Cloudz Wait And See EP cello, drums, violin, piano
Little Scream Cult Following string arrangements, violin
Snowblink Returning Current string arrangements, violin, viola
Ricky Eat Acid Talk To You Soon string arrangements, conductor
Emily Reo Spell 10" string arrangements, conductor
2017 Kirin J. Callinan Bravado string arrangements, violin and viola
Haim Something to Tell You string arrangement, violin and viola
Blue Hawaii Tenderness string arrangements, violin and viola
Charlotte Gainsbourg Rest string arrangements, conductor
Arcade Fire Everything Now string arrangements, piano, strings
Tomberlin At Weddings production, mixing, acoustic guitar, synths, vocals
Frank Ocean "Provider" string arrangement, conductor
2018 Richard Russell Everything Is Recorded string arrangements, violin and viola
Kimbra Primal Heart string arrangements
Fucked Up Dose Your Dreams string arrangements, violin and viola
2019 The Mountain Goats In League with Dragons production, strings arrangements, piano, organ, and guitar
Banks III string arrangements
Keane Cause and Effect brass arrangements
Odette "Do You See Me" string arrangement
Arcade Fire Baby Mine orchestral arrangement
Superchunk Acoustic Foolish string arrangements, violin, viola
Astrid Swan & Stina Koistinen Diagnosis string arrangements, violin, viola
Daniela Gesundheit Alphabet Of Wrongdoing string arrangements, violin, viola
Vegyn Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds string arrangements, violin, viola
2020 Jack Colwell "I Will Not Change My Ways" guitar, string arrangement
Klô Pelgag Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs string arrangements, violin, viola
Sean Nicholas Savage Life Is Crazy string arrangements, violin, viola
Pierre Lapointe Chansons hivernales orchestral arrangements
2021 The Weather Station Ignorance string arrangements on "Wear" and "Trust"
Nonconnah Songs For And About Ghosts string arrangement, violin, viola
Kìzis Tidibàdibe/Turn string arrangements, violin, viola
Xiu Xiu OH NO vocals on "I Dream of Someone Else Entirely"
Vegyn Like A Good Old Friend string arrangements, violin, viola
Hannah Georgas All That Emotion Versions string arrangement on "Easy", violin, viola
Wolf Alice Blue Weekend string arrangements, violin, viola
Astrid Swan D/other string arrangements, violin, viola
Vivek Shraya I'm A Fag For You remixing
Model Child Up From The Bottom string arrangements, violin, viola
Parcels Day/Night orchestral arrangements
Wet Letter Blue string arrangements
Lana Del Rey Blue Banisters string arrangements, violin, viola
Ed Sheeran = string arrangements, violin, viola
Taylor Swift Red (Taylor's Version) string arrangements
Basia Bulat The Garden string arrangements
2022 Sharon Van Etten We've Been Going About This All Wrong strings on "Born"
Julia Jacklin Pre Pleasure string arrangements on "Ignore Tenderness" and "End of a Friendship"
Ibeyi Spell 31 strings on "Creature"
Arcade Fire We string arrangements, additional recording
Marit Larsen "Hva er igjen av oss" string arrangements
2023 London Grammar The Remixes strings on "Dancing By Night"
Sampha Lahai string arrangements
Zoon Bekka Ma'iingan string arrangements
Jeremy Dutcher Motewolonuwok string and brass arrangements
Vegyn "Halo Flip" strings
Oscar Lang Look Now string arrangements
Holly Macve ft. Lana Del Rey "Suburban House" string arrangement
Braids Euphoric Recall string arrangements
Matt Holubowski Like Flowers on a Molten Lawn string arrangements
Sharon Van Etten "Quiet Eyes" string arrangement, violin, viola

Selected works[edit]

  • Pallett, Owen (2014). "When I Come Home". In Wilson, Carl (ed.). Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 267–269. ISBN 978-1-4411-6677-7.


  1. ^ Symonds, Alexandria (May 23, 2014). "Owen Pallett's Disorientalism". Interview. Brant Publications, Inc. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  2. ^ Turner, Luke (March 24, 2010). "Orchestral Manoeuvres & Homoerotica: Owen Pallett Opens His Heartland". The Quietus. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Jones, Mia (December 19, 2010). "Owen Pallett – Live in Singapore". Power of Pop. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
  4. ^ Stevens, Nathan (September 9, 2014). "Interview: Owen Pallett". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Owen Pallett on His Favorite album - Xiu Xiu's "A Promise", retrieved November 2, 2022
  6. ^ "Q&A with Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy". You Ain't No Picasso. April 18, 2006. Archived from the original on April 23, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  7. ^ Cam Lindsay (April 10, 2017). "A Completely Biased Ranking of the 60 Best Canadian Indie Rock Songs of the 00s Part II". Vice (magazine). Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  8. ^ "2006 Winners and Nominees". Polaris Music Prize. Archived from the original on April 24, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  9. ^ SZKLARSKI, CASSANDRA (September 19, 2006). "Final Fantasy snags first-ever Polaris prize recognizing best in Cdn music". The Canadian Press.
  10. ^ "Q", CBC Radio, July 9, 2007'
  11. ^ a b "Enjoyed: A Tribute To Bjork's Post". Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  12. ^ "New Final Fantasy – "The Butcher" & "Ultimatum" (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum. August 26, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  13. ^ "Ola's Kool Kitchen on Radio 23 Owen Pallett Live Primavera 2010 : DJ Ola : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". March 10, 2001. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  14. ^ "CJSR 88.5MHz - Edmonton AB : Top 30 : Oct 26, 2010". earshot-online.com. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  15. ^ Rayner, Ben (January 10, 2010). "Owen Pallett says farewell to Final Fantasy". Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  16. ^ "A Call To Arms". Chromewaves.net. April 13, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  17. ^ a b Alex Hudson (November 12, 2012). "Owen Pallett Preps "Non-Fictional" Album 'In Conflict'". Exclaim!. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  18. ^ "Owen Pallett Shares "Song for Five & Six" Video, Pushes Back New Album Release Date". Pitchfork. April 22, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  19. ^ Vdovin, Marsha (December 1, 2010). "An Interview with Owen Pallett". Cycling '74 website. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  20. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen M. (March 9, 2005). "Profile: Final Fantasy". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 3, 2007.
  21. ^ Solarski, Matthew (June 21, 2007). "Beirut Announce Album Release Date, Tracklist, Tour". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2007.
  22. ^ "TALES OF THE UNCANNY". Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  23. ^ Pattison, Louis (January 16, 2010). "From Arcade Fire to Mika, Owen Pallett is the industry's go-to guy for a lavish orchestral arrangement". The Guardian. London. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  24. ^ "Owen Pallett says farewell to Final Fantasy". Toronto Star. January 10, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  25. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  26. ^ "The Emmy Awards – Winners of The 32nd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards". National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. September 26, 2011. Archived from the original on October 30, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  27. ^ "John Darnielle to Unveil New Mountain Goats Project with Some Help from Owen Pallett". Exclaim!. November 16, 2011. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  28. ^ "Ignorance - The Weather Station".
  29. ^ Saccoccio, Sabrina (February 24, 2007). "Oh, those crazy artistes, who make a virtue of life in the 'burbs: Not everyone needs downtown hotel bars to make art". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. p. M4.
  30. ^ "Experiments with Violin". University of Toronto Magazine. Summer 2006. Archived from the original on May 10, 2007. Retrieved June 3, 2007.
  31. ^ "Owen Pallett: In Conflict". Nowness. Retrieved April 3, 2021. I don't identify as male, I identify as gender-queer
  32. ^ "On being thoughtful about each decision you make". thecreativeindependent.com. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  33. ^ "News [October 4, 2013]". October 4, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  34. ^ [1] Archived October 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "Diamond Rings – "Gentleman Who Fell" (Milla Jovovich Cover) (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum. September 7, 2010. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  36. ^ Huizenga, Tom (April 21, 2013). "First Listen: David Lang, 'Death Speaks'". NPR. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  37. ^ "Sarah Neufeld presents the Black Ground EP + two new videos + Hero Brother Bonus Edition". Retrieved May 21, 2014.

External links[edit]