Acclaimed Toronto-based electronic rock outfit Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have developed and honed a long-held reputation for playing and crating by their own rules, while never being overly concerned about chasing the limelight or after genre-based trends. Along with that, they’ve established a unique, gritty, analog-based sound created through the use of both organic instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on.
The Toronto-based act’s fifth album, last year’s Deleter found the band boldly pushing their sound in a new direction: polyrhythmic and euphoric, the album’s material meshed elements of krautrock, deep house and trance fittingly paired with relentless motorik groove. Thematically, the album explored what happens when humanity and technology coalesce into one big semi-organic celebration of the joys of spontaneity, repetition and individuality. As the band puts it, “the robots are smarter than ever, and the algorithm knows more and more what we like as individuals, but we have to remind ourselves that there is music in the margins that can go missing and that that music is more important than ever.”
Of course, much like countless other acts across the globe, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the acclaimed Canadian act’s plans to tour to support the album. But interestingly enough, they’ve managed to work on a new single, “Airport Dreams,” a collaboration with Kero Kero Bonito‘s Sarah Bonito. Interestingly, the new single sees the members of Holy Fuck continuing to push their sound in new directions — this time in a decidedly pop friendly direction: Featuring a more polished production, the track features snappier beats, razor sharp hooks and Sarah Bonito’s coquettish vocals while retaining the fuzzy and dusty analog texture of their previously released material.
Thematically and lyrically, the song evokes the frustration, boredom and longing for the places, people and things we couldn’t enjoy and experience as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions — and the hope of being able to travel, to see and do things, to see and be around others.
In a personal statement, Holy Fuck dive into the background behind the creative inspiration:
“Contrary to our usual method of recording ‘live off the studio floor’ where we prefer to hash out and capture the core of our songs together in the same room, we found ourselves, like a lot of people in 2020/21, working remotely. This meant building up tracks and song ideas separately at our own various recording and rehearsal spaces and then sharing them with each other online. In spite of the physical distance, we still dug into our classic ‘holy fuck spirit’: embracing whatever tools we have at hand to make the music we want. Voice memos of drum ideas Matt Schulz recorded of himself playing at home were shared, then edited together, forming the rhythmic foundation for ‘Airport Dreams.’ This later gave life to Matt McQuaid’s bass parts which were recorded over WiFi from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to Toronto, Ontario. Situations are not always ideal, but can be used to an advantage – idea over execution. Branching even further into the spirit of collaboration, we sent these ideas to an incredibly talented artist, Sarah Bonito (of Kero Kero Bonito). Sarah’s super catchy and inspiring vocal parts were initially intended for a different song altogether. Their frenetic energy, however, became the catalyst for what is now called “Airport Dreams”.
“During lockdown, I was having recurring dreams about being at the airport catching a flight every night,” Kero Kero Bonito’s Sarah Bonito says of the new single. “I feel like my mind was trying to break free from the physical constraints by travelling the universe whilst I slept. We are all free in our dreams!”
The recently released video for “Airport Dreams” features footage of the members of the acclaimed Canadian electronic act performing the song, superimposed with aviation and travel stock footage — people boarding planes, planes taking off and people exploring foreign places. We also see Sarah Bonito playing with her phone, goofing off and sleeping, presumably dreaming of the places she’d go if she were able to. Ah, how that feels so very familiar!