The opening sentence on Wikipedia for We Are Hunted reads like a eulogy, solemnly stating that “We Are Hunted was a San Francisco based software company”.
The music could be playing during a make-out scene in some 1950’s teenager’s alternate reality. Falsetto harmonies bleed your heart and the electrified guitar tone that would make any parent fearful for their sons and daughters.
Director, editor and sound man Mitch Fillion makes brilliant and intimate music videos for Southern Ontario musicians. Each artist chooses a location for the video shoot. Keeping the camera close to the performers while framing interesting shots, the videos capture the musician’s personal elements that big-budget video shoots rarely can.
View the entire video series of over 100 artists (and growing)!
Here are some of my favourites:
VALERY GORE – Another Year from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.
WAX MANNEQUIN – Black Bells from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.
HAMILTON TRADING CO. – Mend from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.
RAT TAIL – Racecar from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.
Egyptrixx’s bio says his music is “a shifting balance between melodic and dissonant, rapturous and antisocial.” Now magazine says it’s “dirty, sleazy bass-heavy club beats.” So I wondered, what the hell does that actually sound like? I checked out his new EP, Battle for North America, and had a quick chat to find out. Along the way, I got a few more questions answered, too.
By Kristin Kent
KK: How’d you come up with Egyptrixx?
Egyptrixx: It’s kind of an inexplicable explanation. I played in a punk band a few years ago called Africa. It was never a real band; it was more of a bedroom/garage type of thing. The name Africa came out of heavy conversations with friends and then Egyptrixx just popped into my head one day, I think after a nap.
KK: Well, sometimes the best ideas come after a good sleep.
Egyptrixx: That’s so true. Plato did all of his thinking in bed.
KK: Are you comparing yourself to Plato?
Egyptrixx: Only in that the idea came to me in bed. Not that it’s a great or earth-shattering idea, but that’s where it came from. So yes, I guess I am comparing myself to Plato.
KK: So how about your EP, Battle for North America? Where does the inspiration come from?
Egyptrixx: I come up with a lot of melodies on the piano. And then it’s about transferring things from there, building a song from what I’ve just played.
KK: What do you think your sound sounds like? Odd question, I know.
Egyptrixx: It’s equally informed by techno music, house, more melodic-type stuff, pop music I suppose, and there’s an experimental component. As to what it really sounds like, I don’t know. Best I can do is tell you what it’s inspired by.
KK: Is there such thing as a Toronto-specific sound?
Egyptrixx: I don’t think so, not at all. And that’s probably why music coming out of Toronto is really interesting. If you go to cities like London, (UK), Paris, San Francisco, L.A., electronic music scenes congregate around certain nights. Toronto really doesn’t have those nights. I feel like everyone is off in their own home studios making whatever pops into their brains. Subsequently, there is no cohesion, there is no characteristic Toronto sound, but I think that’s actually a good thing.
KK: You switched from decks to live performance, why?
Egyptrixx: I’ve always been interested in playing my own music, as opposed to presenting other people’s music. Being a DJ, there’s always a level of expectation and a certain set of responsibilities. I don’t have a cataloguing brain or a massive collection of music. I’m more obsessed with my own stuff.
KK: What’s your ultimate gig?
Egyptrixx: I grew up playing in bands in basements. So I guess it would be a basement in Etobicoke with an 80,000 sound system and 40 of my closest friends.
Basia Bulat‘s powerful voice and lively song writing can both inspire the imagination and heart rate of her listener. Her second full length Heart Of My Own was released on January 26th in Canada on Secret City Records with glowing accolades from critics and contemporaries complimenting her accomplishment. I caught up with her over a phone call to New York where she was spending a week to promoting the American release of the record on Rough Trade. The album is available in stores across Canada, online and through iTunes.
Your voice is stronger on this record, how has it developed since the last album?
I definitely think I’m a stronger singer on this record. I have spent a lot time getting in touch with… singing is a really physical thing, so I’ve been really lucky because I have a voice coach that I study with when I get a chance to go back to London. There is an opera teacher there by the name of Rachel Mallon who is really wonderful. She has helped me so much to become a better singer. It gives you more a lot more paint to paint with, in a way. But that’s something that I have been working on for a very long time as an instrument.
Your music is very whimsical, where does that come from when you’re writing?
It’s very hard to know where songs come from, I’m just grateful that they still come. It’s really hard to say because the way I write songs is different every time.
The record has a really warm sound. Did you get that from playing as a band in a room or was it brilliant mixing?
Well, the record, a lot of it was done to tape. Obviously recording to 2 inch tape is a little bit old fashioned but it also necessitates that you play as much together as possible. That’s how a lot of my favourite records are made and I think that it gives a little bit of warmth to the record in that way. It sounds a little more human I guess, in really subtle ways. Records recorded digitally can also sounds really warm… they just achieve it in different ways.
With the launch around the corner, are you happy so far with the reception?
Yah, yah. I’m just feeling really great to let it go out into the world and find it’s place or other people will try to put it in a place, which I’m okay with as well. I’m just feeling really peaceful about it.
What’s on your plate for your week in New York?
I’m here to do a bunch of promo and press, and then I have a show at the end of the week.
How is the American reception of the album?
The States has been really great actually and the past couple times I’ve toured here has been wonderful. Just being here to do all sort of different promo stuff has been really nice. I’m really grateful that people like the album.
What are you looking forward to in the next 6 months?
Really and truly to be able to get back out on the stage again and to be able to go from coast to coast across Canada will be really fun. Some of these venues that I’m getting to play I’m just really excited about. It’s just a real privilege to be able to do that. It’s just what I love to do, so to be able to play these songs for people… it’s just a dream. I’m really lucky that I get to do that.
“Go On” – from Heart of my Own
Upcoming Tour Dates
February 4th 2010 – The Aeolian Performing Arts, London, ON
February 5th 2010 – Highwayman Inn, Orillia, ON
February 6th 2010 – Hillside Inside at the Sleeman Centre, Guelph, ON
February 7th 2010 – The Casbah, Hamilton, ON
February 10th 2010 – St. Matthew’s United Church, Halifax, NS
February 12th 2010 – L’Astral, Montreal, QC
February 13th 2010 – First Baptist Church, Ottawa, ON
February 25th 2010 – West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg, MB
February 27th 2010 – Amigo’s, Saskatoon, SK
March 2nd 2010 – Central United Church, Calgary, AB
March 3rd 2010 – Starlite Room, Edmonton, AB
March 5th 2010 – St. James Hall, Vancouver, BC
Interview by Meaghan Bent
Gather round everyone! It’s time to meet Keith Hamilton, leader of Toronto’s Rock and Roll choir Hamilton Trading Company and generally hard-working music. Armed with a guitar and his voice Keith is on average joined by 15-20 singing, clapping and stomping choir members who create the chorus and rhythm section for the original music.
As the primary event booker for The Boat in Toronto, Keith organizes a weekly showcase called Gather ‘Round at which HTC is the headlining act. The Sunday night acoustic event is a great low-key way to wind down the weekend and watch the performances of some of Canada’s most charming acoustic acts as they pass through town.
In addition to a weekly appearance at Gather Round, Keith works hard to find suitable stages for the troop to stomp on. Soon they will pack themselves into a caravan and head East:
28 Jan 2010 Gus’ Pub Halifax, Nova Scotia
29 Jan 2010 The Capital Fredericton, New Brunswick
30 Jan 2010 TBA Sackville, New Brunswick
31 Jan 2010 The Blue Olive St. John, New Brunswick
1 Feb 2010 Zaphod’s Ottawa, Ontario
2 Feb 2010 The Mansion Kingston, Ontario
7 Feb 2010 CD RELEASE @ The Boat!! Toronto, Ontario
If keeping up with the band seems busy, imagine being Keith! He is the bassist for acclaimed band The Diableros, full time music promoter at the Boat and is co-ordinating the 2010 edition of Pitter Patter Music Festival, a festival that he began to rebel against the corporate driven music conferences that dominate independent music in Canada. For all of these reasons, anyone can see why Keith deserves a congradulations for his contributions and support of original music and artist in Canada. Keith, hats off to you!
Have you ever seen that t-shirt? It says something like ‘I was listening to your favourite band 5 years ago’. You all have a friend (maybe more than one) who seethes with (un)justified anger when a band that they ‘discovered when the first album came out’ becomes popular on their 3rd album. Generally popularity of a band means change to the music that was perfectly fine in the first place. I don’t have that shirt, but I do get a little testy when a beloved treasure starts to change shape.
That’s because most of the time they turn to shit.
Needless to say when one of my favourite Toronto bands, The Diableros, released an album with 3/5 members of the line-up replaced I was nervous that they might have lost that ‘I don’t know what’ that initially drew me to them. Most of that anxiety wore off when I had the chance to see them play together live and completely vanished upon hearing their new EP, Old Story, Fresh Road.
Adopting their new members from the ruins of The Postage Stamps, the new-line up already had the chemistry of a complete band. When added to singer-songwriter Pete Carmichael‘s dark lyrics and emotional delivery, it is clear that with this EP, the ‘new’ Diableros are still familiar but also at the beginning of something bigger and better. The good news, for me at least, is that despite losing some of the sloppiness of the first album (You Can’t Break the Strings On Our Olympic Hearts), Old Story, Fresh Road has more of the original charm than their sophomore release… just expanded on technically. Better drumming, better bass, better mixing. Better.
I had the chance to speak with Pete about the changes of the band, the new album and get some insight on being a working man in a hard working band.
How’s it going? Pretty good, I’m tired. I’ve done a lot of driving for The International Festival of Authors (IFOA).
Are you an avid reader? Not really. But I think I might change that. I met all these interesting authors and now I’m interested in their books. It sort of sparked my interest in reading again.
How do you like the new line-up? It’s ideal really. I’ve always admired the members of the new line up as musicians in the past.
What did the line-up change do for your songwriting? It’s different now in that all 3 of them make their own music. I used to basically write the songs and bring them to practice. I would have an idea for the beat or something and I would express that to the others. Now, I can just bring a small piece of a song and present it and the guys are all able to add to it. It feels more like a group than the last line up.
What were the conversations like that led to your selection of vinyl and digital over CD format? It’s something that I had asked my friends over the past few years. I like the bigger artwork; they last forever if you take care of them. Personally, I won’t buy a CD unless there is no other option. And, this is going to sound really geeky, but we took the masters and put them on vinyl where they are able to be heard at 96kHz compared to a CD which is only able to support 44.1kHz. It feels good to know that we have the highest possible sound quality, even if not many people would be able to hear the difference.
After 2 full length albums, why did you release a 5-song EP? After the line-up change we wanted to have something to release and to tour. We were working on more songs, but these all just seemed to fit together. On the last album we put out all the songs I was working on, but this time we wanted to set parameters.
What sort of parameters? That’s a tough question to put into words, which is I guess what makes music such an interesting thing. The parameters are mostly what feels good to play, but isn’t too much like playing just ‘whatever’. We wanted to write music within a certain feeling.
At a recent show, before playing Push it to Monday, you gave a shout out to everyone who takes Fridays off. What does that mean to you? The song is actually about someone not being able to get to work one day because of car troubles. But really, the idea that people work for the weekends, everyone knows that clichÃ©â€¦ that song, but it’s true. There must be more that can be done with a little more time to yourself, whether that is reading or working on musicâ€¦ there are so many things that we could all do with a little more time to ourselves.
What is like having the job of a professional musician AND having a day job? I wouldn’t exactly say we are professional musicians. Like, yah, we all have day jobs that we have to keep. But, you know, I’m always amazed when I meet musicians who I would have expected to live off their music, and they have a day job! It’s like, ‘no way’! We are still financing the albums out of our own pocket.
How has having a record label changed the game? Well, it changed the game in that having a record label frees up a lot of time for me. Not having to do the paperwork and the administration things like putting your album online really gives us the time to focus on the music. It’s different having someone else who is able to get the music out to people who will hear it. We still do some of the paperwork, like, we got a grant for the last album. We worked on the grant proposal ourselves.
What has your favourite touring experience been? Last fall we traveled out East to the Halifax Pop Explosion. The show itself wasn’t all that good. Afterward we ended up playing a show at this half-pizza joint, half bar called Maxwell’s. No one in the audience had ever heard of us, most of the time when we play the audience has some idea about the music. But in this bar, no one knew who we were but during the set this couple got up and started dancing in the crowd. It felt really good to get that kind of response from people who had never heard the music before.
After that we went out and had a really good seafood dinner.
The whole night was great.
So, if you like good old rock and roll with rich tones, tragic lyrics, beautiful guitars and high-quality audio recording I recommend you go get yourself the totally rad, totally see-through, new EP. If you don’t have a record player, check out the album online at http://thediableros.com/
Interview by Meaghan Bent | Photos from myspace
Montreal band Land Of Talk are the latest (lucky) musicians to get to work with Toronto’s multi-media dream-team, We Were Monkeys. The artists, Mihai Wilson and Davide Di Saro, began working together when they collaborated on Malajube‘s Le Crab video. After being nominated for the 2007 MTV People’s Choice Video Award, they knew they were on to something.
Their videos are instantly recognizable animations of dreamlike imagery, rich textures and collages to create stream of conscience works of beauty. Both Davide and Mihai have backgrounds in video production and creative design. Since joining forces they have experimented with new techniques and technologies, mixing 3D rendering, sets and prop construction, photography, illustration and computer animation.
Their most recent work on Land Of Talk‘s It’s Okay is a prime example of their ability to mix mediums and to captivate the viewer. The gray scale video takes us into a dream world where a masked horseman takes over the serene landscape with his endlessly flowing hair. The video itself appears to be separate altogether from the music, other than they compliment the other’s slow pace and beauty.
Enjoy We Were Monkey’s latest video below and be sure to check out their archive on their website
It’s been about a year that I have been using Audioscrobbler, but not until yesterday did I download the radio software and give it a spin.
Of the music returned when I searched for Fiest, it is easy to see patterns of listening between my own music collection and the recommendations made by the software. While none of the artists from this paricular seach were foreign to me, it lends credit to the sophistication of the tagging and comparison software.
I then tried an arbitrary search for the term Mutant (wondering what comparison to Z Records Mutant Disco it would give) and was given a feed of chemical sounding New York influcenced sub-electronica that while completely foreign to me, was very consistant to what I would expect mutant to sound like.
There are tools that allow you to recommend tracks to friends and ‘love’ or ‘ban’ songs, but there are no real ways to integrate what your immediate friends are listening to and tagging with what you are digging up. Hopefully they make transfer that way easier moving forward, but as for digging similar artists, I have personally found this one to be way better than Pandora ever was when it was free. Variables Last.FM account
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Valery Gore – Self Titled
(Six Shooter Records/Warner Music Canada)
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