Tag: Toronto ON

New Audio: Introducing the Radio Friendly Sounds of Toronto’s Mute Choir

Toronto-based indie act Mute Choir — founder Sam Arion, along with Milan Sarkadi and Iris Waters — can trace its origins to as a response to its founder’s identity crisis, a long-established songwriting bond between Arion and Waters and a deep passion for musical experimentation. The Canadian trio are involved in every aspect of their work, ardently employing a DIY ethos to everything they do from production, mixing and artwork to ensure that their vision is completely their own without interference. 

The trio define their overall aesthetic as “Organized Chaos” with their sound simultaneously evoking a cluttered urban center and the “lonesome ambience of insomnia.” The band explains that they “seek to make sense of the noise around them, searching for a middle ground between conflicting forces.”

“Shadowboxing,” Mute Choir’s latest single is a slickly produced and hook driven track centered around Arion’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats, layers of shimmering guitars and a sinuous bass line. Interestingly, the song finds the emerging Canadian trio balancing earnest songwriting rooted in deeply personal experience, deliberate, old-fashioned craft and pop-leaning ambition. Although, the song manages to be a radio friendly, arena rock anthem it simultaneously evokes the uneasiness of an uncertain present while encouraging the listener to take a chance on themselves and their dreams. 

“‘Shadowboxing’ was inspired by a  point of renewal; when you’re starting fresh but can’t escape the tremendous pressure of uncertainty. When the future is wide open, it can be easy to overthink your present decisions in the face of who you might become,” the band says in a written statement. “You can never know for sure if life will turn out the way you hope when you go with your gut instinct. There is always a possibility for failure, an fear of failure can be overwhelming enough to drive you to the wrong kinds of compromises.” 

The members of Mute Choir add, “‘Shadowboxing’ is told from the perspective of someone, who let the weight of ear and negativity break their spirit. They’ve given up and distanced themselves from their passions, only realizing how misguided they were when it’s too late. Each verse laments the unfulfilled mundanity of their day-to-day, while the choruses offer a bleak retrospect. The character was written as a reminder to never look back on life thinking what if? It’s better to fail doing what you love than to know you never tried.”

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Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, never being overly concerned about chasing the limelight or after genre-based trends. They’re also known for employing the use of 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.
Last year, I wrote about two singles off acclaimed electronic act’s soon-to-be released fifth album, Deleter:  “Luxe,” which managed to be both the first bit of new material from the act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP. Clocking in a little over six minutes, the song can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.
The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”
Interestingly, “Luxe” serves as the first official single off the band’s soon-to-be released fifth album Deleter. Slated for release this Friday, the album’s material finds the Canadian electronic act pushing their sound in a very different direction — polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, the members of Holy Fuck mesh elements of krautrock and deep house with motorik percussion. Thematically, the album reportedly explores 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.”
Deleter‘s second single, the expansive, roughly six an da half minute “Free Gloss” was centered around a glistening synth-like arpeggio and atmospheric feedback, a sinuous bass line, a motorik groove, and plaintive and ethereal vocals from POND‘s Nicholas Albrook. And much like its predecessor, the album’s second single wound up being a seamless synthesis of hypnotic and driving pulsation, ethereal atmospherics and dance floor friendly thump. “Deleters,” the album’s third single and sort of album title track continues a run of motorik groove-led, euphoric club bangers centered around thumping four-on-the-floor, retro-futuristic-like sounds, a propulsive bass line and guest spot from Liars’ Angus Andrew, who contributes backing vocals.  “The song ‘Deleters,’” write Holy Fuck, “started at a party in the woods of rural Quebec. Set up on the forest floor, literally over moss covered tree roots we decided to make up a new hour-long improvised set in front of a crowd of people dancing amongst the trees. From that session two songs emerged and found their way onto the new record. This is the first time we selected a song from the record to also be a title track — but there really isn’t a reason for it other than we thought it sounded cool, like a modern version of Fugazi‘s Repeater or Depeche Mode‘s Violator (or even KissDestroyer, though in name only). Our friend Angus from Liars doubles Brian’s vocals giving the track a nice punch.”
The act will be embarking on a roughly two month North American, UK and European Union tour to support Deleter. The band recently added a handful of East Coast and Canadian tour dates. The added tour dates include a June 12, 2020 stop at Elsewhere Hall.
Check out the tour dates below.
Tour Dates:
Holy Fuck Tour Dates:
03/23/20 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
02/24/20 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
03/25/20 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
03/27/20 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
03/28/20 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
03/30/20 – Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room
03/31/20 – Seattle, WA @ Nuemos
04/01/20 – Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club
04/03/20 – Calgary, AB @ Broken City
04/04/20 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s Cantina
04/06/20 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
04/07/20 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
04/24/20 – Antwerp, BE @ Trix
04/25/20 – Luxembourg @ Out of The Crowd Festival
04/27/20 – Birmingham, UK @ The Hare & Hounds
04/28/20 – Brighton, UK @ Chalk
04/29/20 – Cardiff, UK @ Clwb lfor Bach
04/30/20 – Manchester, UK @ Yes (basement)
05/03/20 – Glasgow, UK @ Slag & Dagger Festival
05/05/20 – Barcelona, ES @ La Nau
05/06/20 – Oviedo, ES @ La Lata de Zinc
05/07/20 – Vigo, ES @ Radar Estudios
05/09/20 – Valencia, ES @ La Pérgola
05/23/20 – London, UK @ All Points East
06/09/20 – Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
06/10/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
06/12/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ ELSEWHERE: Hall
06/13/20 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
06/15/20 – Montréal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
06/17/20 – Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre
06/19/20 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace

New Video: Rising Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based Pop Artist Winona Oak Releases a Mischievously Twisted Visual for “Control”

Last year, I wrote about the rapidly rising Solleron, Sweden-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Winona Oak. Oak, who was born Johanna Ekmark has a rather unique backstory: Growing up  on the small, Swedish island known to Swedes as the Island of the Sun, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist spent much of her childhood encountering more animals than people. As the story goes, she grew up as a trained horse acrobat and because she grew up in a musical home, she was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors as much as possible: Ekmark began playing violin when she was 5, piano when she was 9, and she wrote poetry and songs at an extremely young age.

Ekmark eventually moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in music, but a leap of faith that had her attend a Neon Gold Records writing retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle led to her meet Australian-born and based hit making producer and pop artist What So Not. And from this serendipitous meeting, she went on to co-write ““Better” and “Stuck In Orbit,” before stepping out into the spotlight as both the writer and featured artist on the Aussie producer and pop artist’s “Beautiful.”

Adding to a busy 2018, Ekmark covered HAIM‘s “Don’t Save Me” for Neon Gold Records’ 10th anniversary compilation, NGX: Ten Years of Neon Gold before closing out that year with a co-write and vocal contribution to The Chainsmokers viral hit “Hope,” a track that has amassed over 250 million streams across all digital platforms globally — including over 100 million streams on Spotify. As a result of such incredibly early success, the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist signed to Warner-Chappell Music Publishing and to Neon Gold/Atlantic Records.

Now, as  you may recall, last year, I wrote about the Swedish-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist’s long-awaited debut single, the slickly produced, hook-driven and sultry “He Don’t Love Me,” and the slow-burning and anthemic ballad “Break My Broken Heart.” Both singles managed to further cement Oak/Ekmark’s growing reputation for crating incredibly earnest pop with enormous hooks. Oak ended last year with the release of an  alternate version of her last single of 2019 “Let Me Know.” The “Let Me Know (Johan Lenox Stings Mix) ” reimagines the propulsive, dance floor friendly original by pairing Oak’s vocals with a string arrangement from Johan Lenox, who has worked with Kanye West, Travis Scott and Vic Mensa. 

Building upon that momentum, Oak released her debut EP CLOSURE through Neon Gold/Atlantic Records last week. The EP’s latest single “Control” continues a run of slickly produced synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, an enormous hook and Oak’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while sonically the song recalls Kylie Minogue and others, the song evokes the swooning and fluttering pangs of new love and the uncertainty, insecurity and obsession it can sometimes bring. “‘Control’ is about meeting someone that makes you weak in your knees and never knowing how they actually feel about you,” Winona Oak explains in press notes. “You make risky decisions, act irrationally and tolerate things you normally wouldn’t. You’re feeling nervous, insecure and are constantly afraid that they are gonna leave you. Oh and this is when you learn – the difference between love and obsession.” 

Shot and co-directed by longtime visual collaborator Andreas Öhman and Julian Gillström, the recently released video for “Control” stars Winona Oak as a desperate and hopelessly obsessed woman who stalks the object of her affection, before trying to build a Ken doll-version of him. “For the video, we wanted to target this hopeless feeling with a twisted sense of humor,”  Oak explains in press notes. 

New Video: Holy Fuck Releases a Mind-Bending Visual for Shimmering Club Banger “Free Gloss”

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have developed a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, never being overly concerned about chasing the limelight or after genre-based trends. They’re also known for employing the use of 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.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Luxe,” the first bit of new material from the acclaimed Canadian electronic act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP. And as you may recall, the single was born by their mutual desire to resist old and trusted methods of creating new material — primarily by experimenting live and on the stage. Centered around a pulsating, minimal synth loop, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping kick drum, the expansive song, which clocks in at a little over six minutes can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.

The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”

“Luxe” also served as the first official single off Holy Fuck’s forthcoming fifth album Deleter. Slated for a January 17, 2020 release, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Canadian electronic act pushing their signature sound in a new and exciting direction — polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, the members of Holy Fuck manage to seamlessly mesh krautrock, deep house and motorik percussion. Thematically, the album reportedly explores 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.”
 

Clocking in at just under six and a half minutes, the expansive “Free Gloss” features plaintive and ethereal vocals from POND’s Nicholas Albrook and is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, atmospheric electronics, a sinuous bass line and a motorik groove. And much like it’s immediate predecessor, “Free Gloss” is a seamless synthesis of hypnotic and driving pulse, ethereal atmospherics and dance floor friendly thump. 

Directed by Haoyan of America, the recently released video for “Free Gloss” is a trippy and wondrous synthesis virtual reality, video games and reality that’s pulled out of the home, on to the dance floor and back home. And throughout, the individual in all of their strangeness is celebrated. 

M for Montreal: A Q&A with Vince the Messenger

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities  Last month, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to be one of those 300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers, who made the trek to Montreal for the four-day festival. (And yes, I had some amazing poutine and a smoked meat sandwich. After all, when in Rome, right?)

Friday, November 22, 2019 marked M for Montreal’s third day and night of the festival’s four days and for me, it was the busiest and most exhausting one of my time in Montreal, as I made several stops in completely different parts of the city, including a Music PEI (Prince Edward Island)-sponsored brunch showcase early that morning, which featured three of the Eastern Canadian province’s hottest, up-and-coming artists – Vince The Messenger, Russell Louder and Dylan Menzie.

By any music festival’s third or fourth day, you’re most likely a hungover, sweaty, sleep-deprived mess with aching feet and knees and maybe even a sore back. You have business cards from people you can’t remember meeting or having a conversation with – and those people you do remember, their names and faces have blurred. And despite being overstimulated and in complete discomfort, you’d do it over and over and over again because – well, you’re having the best possible life and you might be a bit of a sadomasochist. As for me, I was a bit sleep deprived and somehow managed to enter the wrong address into Google Maps for the brunch showcase. Naturally, this resulted in somehow walking almost three blocks past the venue and missing what seemed to be at least two songs of the opener, Vince The Messenger’s set. D’oh! But I was so impressed by him that I knew I wanted to interview him as part of my festival coverage.

The up-and-coming Etobicoke, Ontario-born, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island-based emcee Vince The Messenger’s solo career started in earnest with the release of last year’s full-length debut Self Sabotage, an effort that led to the Etobicoke-born, Charlottetown-based emcee being nominated for a New Artist of the Year Award and the album receiving an Urban Recording of the Year at this year’s Music PEI Awards. After catching the 22-year old Canadian emcee’s set last month, I can see why: his work is an effortless and seamless synthesis of golden era hip-hop boom bap, introspective and thoughtful lyricism based on personal experience and feelings and slick, modern production. And it’s all done in a way that – to my ears, at least – seems perfectly suited for Hot 97 and Power 105.1.

Vince the Messenger Press Photo

I recently chatted with the rapidly rising Canadian artist via email about a wide range of topics including Prince Edward Island’s music scene, being an emcee and hip-hop artist on the small Eastern Canadian province, his influences, M for Montreal and more. He’ll strike you as a thoughtful and interesting young talent – and I hope that we’ll be hearing more about him in the States. Check out the interview below. And then feel free to check out some of the Canadian artist’s work, too.

Self Sabotage Cover ArtAndroid Cover Art

 

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William Ruben Helms: While I have a number of Canadian readers, the bulk of my readers are from the States – primarily in and around the New York Metropolitan area. As you can imagine, many of us won’t know much about Prince Edward Island, let alone Charlottetown. Can you tell us something about the province that we should know but somehow don’t know? What’s the music scene like? Is it unusual to be an emcee out there?

Vince The Messenger: PEI is a province that moves at a comfortable pace. The island thrives off of its tourist industry, with a beach in literally any direction and an abundance of east coast cuisine, the island really booms in the summer months. The music scene is small and tightknit. The music scene is home to singer/songwriters, indie rock, pop-punk, blues, classical, jazz and everything in between. Being an emcee is most definitely a little unusual out here. PEI is definitely not known for its hip-hop, but with artists like myself and others, we’re working to change that narrative.

WRH: Besides yourself, are there any other artists from your province that listeners and fans should know about outside the province?

VTM: Absolutely, PEI is small, but it’s concentrated with bubbling talent. Niimo, Slime Da Garbage Mane, The Lxvndr Effect are a few of the artists that make up the current hip-hop scene in Charlottetown.

 WRH: How did you get into music?

 VTM: I got into music at a relatively young age. The idea of interacting with music creatively was first introduced by my father when I was young, maybe five or so. He used to play in a few bands during his younger adulthood in Toronto, so it wasn’t uncommon for him to have instruments around the house. We’d write songs together and record them on cassette, he’d play guitar and I’d sing. This foundation of interacting with music led me to take songwriting more seriously in my later school years. By junior-high I was recording and releasing my own music and performing at all-ages events around my city. Things really didn’t pick up for me until recent years when I developed a close working relationship with my DJ and producer Niimo. From that point on I put out my first album, began playing shows and festivals frequently and have tapped into my artistry on a higher level.

WRH: There’s quite a bit of that old school boom bap in your sound and work. How much has that influenced your work? Who are your influences?

VTM: The music coming out of the boom-bap era was incredibly real and raw. Hip-hop coming out in the following eras saw more commercialization and at some fault lost some elements of what made it genuine. I’ve always reached towards the golden age due to its rich substance, that’s always something I’ve strived to provide with my own music. Hip-hop being the most popular genre today a lot of what you see on the surface is heavily commercialized and can lack substance. Luckily with streaming and the power of the internet artists with alternative approaches to hip-hop are still alive and well and are able to get their music and message out to the masses. My influences range from artists like The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Das Efx, Biggie to more modern acts like Mick Jenkins, Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Badass and Kendrick Lamar.

WRH: How would you describe your work? 

VTM: My work is an expressive take on my life, my experiences and my aspirations. I try to blend a sound that’s easily digestible with lyrics containing deeper meaning for those who seek it.

WRH: I managed to miss a song or two of your set during the Prince Edward Island-sponsored M for Montreal brunch showcase. I was sleep-deprived and managed to enter the wrong address for the venue and walked two and a half blocks past the place. D’oh! Thankfully, I still managed to catch most of the set. I saw a fair amount of rappers during the festival, including a late-night showcase at Le Belmont later that night. But out of the rappers I saw you were among my favorites. How did it feel to represent Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island in front of a bunch of national and internationally-based music industry types?

VTM: It felt great representing Charlottetown in front of a bunch of music industry types and delegates. It’s always been interesting representing Charlottetown as a rap artist mostly because when outsiders or even insiders for that matter think of the PEI music scene hip-hop/rap is not a genre that comes to mind. That’s slowly changing as myself and other Charlottetown artists bring more life to the genre and art style in the city. It presents a unique opportunity to showcase my music with minimal preconceptions of what rap music from my city should sound like, and when it’s received as positively as it is it feels even better.

WRH: Did you get a chance to see any music during M for Montreal? And if so, was there anyone you enjoyed?

Luckily, I was able to catch a few shows during the festival. I saw Montreal’s Maky Lavender open for Toronto artists Charlie Noir, Tremayne, and Sydanie at Bar Le Ritz. The energy in the room was high, I was hoping to catch some other rap acts during the festival so I’m glad I managed to see that show. I also saw the Libson Lux Records showcase featuring Paupière, Russell Louder and Radiant Baby at Casa Del Popolo. This was another highly energetic showcase with some powerful performances.

WRH: Your solo career started last year, and you’ve been really busy. You released your solo debut Self Sabotage last year. You’ve released a handful of singles this year – and you’ve had a bunch of collaborations and guest spots. I listened to some of your work before I landed in Montreal and again for research for this interview. “Mr. Sun” and “Menace” are two of my favorite tracks of Self-Sabotage. Those songs much like the rest of your material captures your innermost thoughts, experiences, and feelings in a profoundly intimate and personal fashion – that’s somewhat uncommon with hip hop. How much of your work is influenced by your own personal experiences?

VTM: The majority of my work is influenced by my own personal experiences in some form. Whether that be a report of first-hand events or observations I make from things happening around me. A lot of what I write comes from an emotive space – I write how I feel and use these lyrics as a method of journaling.

WRH: You released “Android” a few weeks before M for Montreal. To me, it’s an interesting track because it features you rhyming over a production that’s both atmospheric and glitchy. So what’s the track about?

 VTM: “Android” is a track that definitely sits differently in my discography. When Niimo sent me the beat I was skeptical about rapping on it initially just because of how different of a sound it was for me, but there was something about it that had me captured. The song doesn’t necessarily follow a strict theme from beginning to end, instead, it runs as a series of thoughts in a stream of consciousness style. What starts off as a braggadocious ballad turns into me airing out a list of concerns, but ending on the same braggadocious high note.

WRH: This isn’t really a question but that “Azucar Freestyle” you’ve got up on Spotify is fucking fire.

 VTM: I appreciate that. That song came out of my fandom of Earl Sweatshirt. I recorded over the instrumental of his song “Azucar” off of Some Rap Songs and instead of putting that up on its own Niimo flipped the same sample and recreated the beat under my acapella.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 

VTM: Right now, it’s been a lot of MAVI, Medhane, Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs.

WRH: What’s next for you?

VTM: Since releasing Self Sabotage I’ve been working closely with Niimo on my next album Trustfall. That’ll be out early in the new year accompanied by visuals and a series of other materials to complement it. Outside of the new music, you can expect to see me showcasing within North America and put out more and more content for my audience.

New Audio: Acclaimed Canadian Act BADBADNOTGOOD Releases a Cover of a Slow-Burning 80s Soul Classic

BADBADNOTGOOD, the Toronto-based jazz-inspired act, currently comprised of founding members Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with Leland Whitty has received attention for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz and prog rock — and for jazz based interpretations of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed the act to collaborate with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. (It shouldn’t be surprising that the act can trace its origins to the band’s founding members bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop — in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.)

As the story goes, the band’s founding members, which also included Matt Tavares played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who  sadly didn’t believe it had much musical value. But after they released the composition as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler the Creator, who helped the video go viral. 

The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.

2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album which is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz found the Canadian act collaborating with Ghostface Killah. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and the band quickly went to work producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

Light In The Attic  Records has started a an exclusive vinyl and digital cover series — and the latest installment of the series features the acclaimed Toronto act collaborating with vocalist Jonah Yano on a cover of Majestics’ 1982 slow jam “Key To Love (Is Understanding).” Interestingly, while Jonah Yano and BADBADNOTGOOD finds the acclaimed Canadian act crafting a lovingly straightforward and soulful cover but with a subtle personal twist and a slick production. The BADBADNOTGOOD and Jonah Yano cover along with the Majestics original are available now for streaming through your favorite digital producer and will be released on “Majestic Pink” 7″ vinyl on February 21, 2020 release.

“As lovers of old soul, funk and rare recordings, ‘Key to Love’ has always been a song that has had an impact on our heart and ears,” the acclaimed Canadian act said in a statement. “We hope our version relays how special this song is and gives it some new listeners and a second life […] It’s an incredibly beautiful song that deserves to be heard, and we hope to play a small part in that.” They add, “We had met Jonah Yano about a year ago and we started to jam and make demos. After some really fun recording sessions we asked him if he would help us with the cover and we smashed the whole song out in a week.”

“It is a pleasant surprise,” Donald Cooper of Majestics said upon hearing BADBADNOTGOOD’s version of the song. “They did a good job and it was well done with their own slight personal twist […] [it’s] an honor to be recognized.”

Last month, I wrote about ZINNIA,a Toronto-based art pop project featuring its creative mastermind Rachel Cardiello along with James Burrows, Chris Pruden, Connor Walsh and Mackenzie Longpre. And since their formation, the Canadian act has developed a layered synth-based sound with driving beats that’s been recently described as Kate Bush meets Meat Loaf as the material manages to be intimate and fierce.

ZINNIA’s recently released full-length debut Sensations in Two Dot thematically focuses on moments of doubt — in particular, creative, societal and personal, while exploring what it means to hold compassion through the multifaceted grey areas of life. Whether in the real life town of Two Dot, Montana (population 143) or the band’s hometown of Toronto (population 2.6 million), the album’s nine songs attempt to probe the complex, unsettling similarities of the human experience. The album’s latest single, the brooding “Yellowstone” is centered around a shuffling and old-timey arrangement of atmospheric synths, soaring strings, guitar, bass and Cardiello’s expressive and aching vocals  — and while continuing a run of material that brings Aimee Mann, Kate Bush and others to mind, the song is rooted in the intense self-doubt, confusion, unease and a longing for hone.

 

 

 

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New Video: Toronto’s jackie Releases a Hilarious Send Up of Gangster and Action Movies for Anthemic “Lifetime in a Touch”

Currently comprised of Winnipeg-born founding members Jackie Mohr and Marc Girardin with Max Trefler, the Toronto-based electro pop/electro rock act jackie can trace their origins to the formation and breakup of Mohr’s and Girardin’s previous band — The Mohrs, an act that shared stages with the likes of Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction and The Glorious Sons.

In 2012, Mohr and Girardin relocated to Toronto, where they met Trefler and released a rock-based effort through Light Organ Records before a radical change in sonic direction necessitated a rename. “We changed our sound on this new EP, replacing bass with analog synth, and went back to having just us three as the core of the project,” the band’s Jackie Mohr explains in an email. “After a few year hiatus we’ve come back as ‘jackie’. More aware of where we want to take our place in music.”

Interestingly, the band’s transformation was partially fueled by Mohr’s experiences as a woman in a male-dominated landscape. “I’ve never had a problem holding my own in this industry, or with men, but it really does make you question why there’s so little female presence,” Mohr points out.

“When I was promoting my first single, my radio team told my management it was going to be very difficult getting ‘a female on rock radio.’ I don’t think I’ve ever hated a comment more. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now,” Mohr continues. “I think it’s time for a new narrative. This is especially important in the LGBTQ community. Heteronormative relationships are only a small part of what’s out there, and how people love one another. Other communities need to be represented as well. I remember on my debut album I worried about saying ‘her’ or ‘she‘ as a lyric because people would class me as a ‘gay artist’. This sort of thing is important for sure, and I am a gay woman, but it’s not all I am, and I never wanted that to be the focal point of my/our music, or my musical career. The band, our music, and myself are much more than that. Music is for everyone.”

“We write songs for the everyday radio listener, and the guitar nerd,” Mohr, who owns a 1962 Silverstone 1423 nicknamed Monicka Del Toro adds. “Maybe writing good music will be more important than Instagram followers again someday.”

Interestingly, the Canadian trio’s latest single, the Hawksley Workman-produced “Lifetime in a Touch” finds the band crafting pop-leaning track that’s simultaneously a club banger and an arena rock anthem, complete with a driving groove, synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” a scorching guitar solo and Mohr’s earnest, pop belter vocals. It’s the sort of rousingly anthemic song that you can envision sweaty young people shouting along to in a dark club — but the real reason it works is that it’s rooted in real, lived-in, deeply universal experiences. As the trio explain, the song is “essentially a song about heartbreak, but it’s told through a positive outlook The lyrics in the verses represent the past lover that engulfed and controlled you, while the chorus reminds you that there’s more to life than lovers.”

Directed by Dominika Monicka and Ryan Faist, the recently released video for “Lifetime in a Touch” is a hilarious send up of Office Space, gangster movies and action movies as it features the bandmebers in an abandoned shipyard. Throughout the bulk of the video, the band are in an old Honda four door spinning in infinite donuts. But we also see the band rocking out to the song, and eventually busting shit up — because why not? Perhaps in some way, the video reminds the viewer that love can be a wild and tumultuous ride. 

 

Currently comprised of Winnipeg-born founding members Jackie Mohr and Marc Girardin with Max Trefler, the Toronto-based electro pop/electro rock act jackie can trace their origins to the formation and breakup of Mohr’s and Girardin’s previous band — The Mohrs, an act that shared stages with the likes of Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction and The Glorious Sons.

In 2012, Mohr and Girardin relocated to Toronto, where they met Trefler and released a rock-based effort through Light Organ Records before a radical change in sonic direction necessitated a rename. “We changed our sound on this new EP, replacing bass with analog synth, and went back to having just us three as the core of the project,” the band’s Jackie Mohr explains in an email. “After a few year hiatus we’ve come back as ‘jackie’. More aware of where we want to take our place in music.”

Interestingly, the band’s transformation was partially fueled by Mohr’s experiences as a woman in a male-dominated landscape. “I’ve never had a problem holding my own in this industry, or with men, but it really does make you question why there’s so little female presence,” Mohr points out.

“When I was promoting my first single, my radio team told my management it was going to be very difficult getting ‘a female on rock radio.’ I don’t think I’ve ever hated a comment more. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now,” Mohr continues. “I think it’s time for a new narrative. This is especially important in the LGBTQ community. Heteronormative relationships are only a small part of what’s out there, and how people love one another. Other communities need to be represented as well. I remember on my debut album I worried about saying ‘her’ or ‘she‘ as a lyric because people would class me as a ‘gay artist’. This sort of thing is important for sure, and I am a gay woman, but it’s not all I am, and I never wanted that to be the focal point of my/our music, or my musical career. The band, our music, and myself are much more than that. Music is for everyone.”

“We write songs for the everyday radio listener, and the guitar nerd,” Mohr, who owns a 1962 Silverstone 1423 nicknamed Monicka Del Toro adds. “Maybe writing good music will be more important than Instagram followers again someday.”

Interestingly, the Canadian trio’s latest single, the Hawksley Workman-produced “Lifetime in a Touch” finds the band crafting pop-leaning track that’s simultaneously a club banger and an arena rock anthem, complete with a driving groove, synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” a scorching guitar solo and Mohr’s earnest, pop belter vocals. It’s the sort of rousingly anthemic song that you can envision sweaty young people shouting along to in a dark club — but the real reason it works is that it’s rooted in real, lived-in, deeply universal experiences. As the trio explain, the song is “essentially a song about heartbreak, but it’s told through a positive outlook The lyrics in the verses represent the past lover that engulfed and controlled you, while the chorus reminds you that there’s more to life than lovers.”