“I don’t really create or operate through feeling inspired, but rather just feel these states of channeling something inexplicable and simply following it and trusting where it leads me”
Texture, patience, and balance are the words that ruminate in one’s mind after listening to the ever-evolving, and deeply contemplative work that is ‘ethos pathos logos’. Canadian artist Milan André Boronell harnesses the dynamic inspirations of a diverse environment within this album; from the bustling Bratislava train station at the onset of war, to the chirping crickets on his grandmother’s porch.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Milan André Boronell: It’s 9:48pm in Montreal, I’m at home in my apartment which is in an area called Le Plateau-Mont Royal. I decided to take my laptop out on my balcony to answer these questions.
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?
Milan André Boronell: I was born and raised in Montreal. Lived here until I was 20 and then moved to Toronto to get my Bachelors of Music degree from Humber College. After living in Toronto for 8 years I moved to London. I’ve since lived in Bratislava, Prague and now made my way back to Montreal.
Happy: Describe your average day?
Milan André Boronell: I travel a lot for music reasons. Average of 1-3 times a month. Mainly between Europe and all over Canada. Therefore an average day is hard to define. But I guess no matter where I am, an average day has it’s common denominators. An average day will always include some type of music creation. Either writing, recording or producing. Then most average days also include going to the gym, cooking (I love cooking) and calling my mom.
Happy: What about your ultimate day?
Milan André Boronell: My ultimate day is pretty much all the things that appear on various average days, with a couple social bonuses. My ultimate day would include going to the gym first thing in the morning, then see my mom and a couple other close people in my life for some quality time, then smoking a joint* or eat an edible and make music all night. And of course, cooking something tasty for dinner.
*Cannabis is legal in Canada
Happy: Congratulations on the release of your second album, ‘ethos pathos logos’! Can you share with us the inspiration behind the album title and what it represents for you?
Milan André Boronell: I don’t really create or operate through feeling inspired, but rather just feel these states of channeling something inexplicable and simply following it and trusting where it leads me. This was exactly how I decided on the title. I remember thinking of the word rhetoric and the idea of music being this way of communicating something or persuading the listener to believe in your message, story, perspective, etc. I considered calling the album ‘rhetoric’ but then was skimming through the search results for ‘rhetoric’ when I came across some sort of page that referenced ‘ethos pathos logos’. I had never heard of the Greek expression, but when I saw it I knew right away this was the title. ‘ethos pathos logos’ is a Greek phrase that refers to three areas that a speaker aims to target in the listener in order to have their argument or message be as compelling as possible. In brief, ethos refers to gaining the audience’s trust. Pathos represents stimulating the audience emotionally. And finally, logos is the logic; making sure what you say makes sense. I found that these three elements were an interesting way of feeling the album.
Happy: You’ve mentioned that ‘ethos pathos logos’ features songs recorded in various locations. How did these different environments influence the sound and overall vibe of the album?
Milan André Boronell: The different environments had a major impact on the sound and vibe. I love recording sounds from my environment or the world around it and within it, so I would do this with almost every song. ‘aurora’ features the voice of the person who inspired the song, recorded through bluetooth headphones while I was writing it.
I wrote and recorded most of it in northern Quebec. ‘code pendent’ was written at my grandmother’s house in Orlando, Florida and features crickets on her porch while I was writing. ‘(my)self’ and ‘mystic man’ were both written and initially recorded in Montreal at my childhood home.
I recorded kitchen sounds as my mom cooked, as well as TV sounds. ‘i was never alive’ was a song I wrote and recorded in my apartment in Prague, which features an ambulance siren that was real and “ruined” my ukulele take, but I ended up really liking it. Those are just a few examples.
Happy: As a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer, how did you balance your roles during the creation of ‘ethos pathos logos’? Did you find yourself wearing different hats throughout the process?
Milan André Boronell: I’ve been wearing all the hats since I was a young teen, so it’s a familiar feeling. I wore all the hats for almost all the songs; writing, recording and producing everything alone, wherever I was in the world, using gear I always travel with. I then I took some things I did to my friend Kristofer Harris in the UK and we added tons more things in studio.
Happy: We know that you collaborated with Kristofer Harris on this album. How did his involvement enhance the music and contribute to the overall sonic landscape of the record?
Milan André Boronell: Kris is so great. His contributions enhanced everything in different ways. He has decades of experience and is very creative. But above all, he’s very open in studio and likes to experiment, which has really influenced the way I produce now.
He also owns and has access to tons of cool analog gear, which is always fun to mess around with. Kris’ touch on ‘ethos pathos logos’ was both the icing on top of some songs and the flour in others.
Happy: ‘ethos pathos logos’ encompasses a span of time from fall 2020 to summer 2022. How do you feel this timeline influenced the themes and lyrical content explored in the album?
Milan André Boronell: There were so many things that happened in those years. I really thrived creatively in isolation during covid. But then paradoxically I didn’t stop traveling, as I had many projects and jobs still active during covid. Believe or not, I took over 60 flights during the pandemic, most internationally.
So, I was constantly moving, constantly feeling ungrounded. I felt a bit homeless; frequening familiar places that felt like home, but not actually home. I also dated a few different people over the years, who inspired a few of the songs.
I was in Slovakia, which shares its borders with Ukraine, when the war started and I did some volunteering at the Bratislava train station; helping the people fleeing, which inspired the song ‘weary’.
I do songwriting and recording workshops and residencies with indigenous youth at elementary and high schools all over Canada, so I was also in and out of those communities, influenced by the incredible native land. So, in short, I was all over the place; always staying open minded and receptive. I feel the music was created in that same way.
Happy: Your first album, ‘five hundred days,’ was produced as a tag team with both Kristofer Harris and yourself. How does ‘ethos pathos logos’ differ from your debut in terms of musical style and creative direction?
Milan André Boronell: With every moment that passes, I can feel myself step deeper into openness and inhibition-less creation. I feel the 2 albums differ in that I felt less bound by conventional song structure in ‘ethos pathos logos’ and more bound to authenticity and serendipitously organic creativity.
Happy: As someone who has lived in different cities across the globe, how has your diverse background and experiences shaped the sound of ‘ethos pathos logos’? Can we expect to hear any cultural influences in the music?
Milan André Boronell: No cultural influences yet on this album. But there’s definitely some things I will do in future that will feature elements of my Slovak, Black and Hispanic cultures.
Happy: Aside from your own music, you also produce and write for other artists. How has this experience influenced your approach to creating your own album, and did any of those collaborations find their way onto ‘ethos pathos logos’?
Milan André Boronell: No collaborations on this album, but many to come. Producing others is an amazing way to expand and explore. I love helping artists I connect with to bring their visions to reality. Producing others has allowed me to try different things and sounds, so that when it comes time to produce myself, it no longer feels like production and simply feels like sonic exploration through emotional stimulus.
Happy: We’re curious about the significance of the album cover for ‘ethos pathos logos.’ Could you tell us the story behind the visual representation and how it connects to the music within?
Milan André Boronell: The picture is from a completely unrelated shoot I did in 2021 for a magazine and interview in Slovakia. A year later, I connected the conceptual dots with the image and the cover of ‘five hundred days.’ ‘five hundred days.’ cover is a picture I took myself and features my shadow on a wall with a painting and the bright orange light of dawn.
When I was looking for a cover for ‘ethos pathos logos’ I came back to the image from the shoot and imagined that the shadow character (me) from the previous album was slowly and finally emerging from their darkness into a new light.
Dive into the ethereal beauty of ‘ethos pathos logos’