Sidney York: Keeping unconventional cool

Last Saturday at Music Matters Live with HP 2014, Canadian act Sidney York gave a blistering performance at the Fountain Stage, armed with unconventional instruments (a bassoon, anyone?) sliced over catchy tunes and pop sensibilities.

These girls, with a killer and refreshing attitude to boot, just might be the next big thing in Canada — but don’t be too quick to compare them to their more famous Canadian counterparts Tegan and Sara, or even an Emily Haines-fronted Metric.

We sat down with Brandi Sidoryk and Krista Wodelet of Sidney York before their set, and talked about famous Canadian people, their insanely fun music videos, and their latest record, <3s (Hearts).

Hey Sidney York! You’re from Canada, the home to all things musical and great. Any famous friends to date?
Famous friends [laughs]? I guess it depends, because the acts that we think are big, aren’t that big internationally. You could be really good in Canada, but not so big in the rest of the world, or you could be really good internationally and no one’s heard of you in Canada. We’re friends with these bands, Mother Mother and The Odds, who are huge in Canada.

“We didn’t mean to write a breakup record, but as we were writing for the album, both of us were going through really tough breakups unexpectedly”

Let’s talk about your newest album, <3s (Hearts). What is the inspiration and meaning behind the album?
It was a breakup record. We didn’t mean to write a breakup record, but as we were writing for the album, both of us were going through really tough breakups unexpectedly. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t help but write that shitty break up song [laughs].

We like to have a lot of fun on stage and we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously, so even if the lyrics are dark on this album, it’s not often found in the music. It’s quite a big contrast between the dark lyrics and the upbeat, pop-y music — we like that contrast because it leaves a inner meaning for people to listen a little deeper. It’s really fun to listen to at first, but once you get into the record and  listen to the songs a couple of times, you’ll realise that Krista and I were kind of messed up [laughs]!

Your music is really interesting, something under the umbrella of indie… and pop, but then there’s also this certain edgy vibe to it. What genre would you classify your music as?
I would call ourselves indie pop. We’re the indie pop musicians that listen to those indie pop acts, but we love St. Vincent and we want a little bit of that dirt in there too. I would say we’re schizophrenic indie pop [laughs].

With two females fronting the band, do you get compared to any other artists?
I think we’ve gotten compared to Tegan and Sara, just because we’re both Canadian and duo-female fronted acts. We’re big Tegan and Sara fans, and we’re happy for the comparison, but we definitely have some differences musically. We’ve been told that we’ve been quite similar to Metric as well, or a happy Fiona Apple; Katy Perry meets PJ Harvey, or a new-age The Go Gos. Krista and I are the dorkiest popstars you’ll ever meet.

“…we’re schizophrenic indie pop”

Your music videos are amazingly fun! Who comes up with the concept for the videos and do you think they convey the actual spirit of the band?
We have hired a number of specific directors, mostly from the same production company in Vancouver that we work with. We are really involved in concepting [the ideas] and we love it.

More times than not, we come to the table with an idea that we’ve already gotten attached to and we say, “Can you direct this music video with this idea?” and usually they say, “You’re crazy, absolutely not!” and then a week later, they’ll say, “Okay, yeah we can do this.”

Oh, and for this new record, we’ll be doing a music video for every song on the album.

Oh right, so you guys are pulling a Beyoncé?
Exactly! Except that we’re less of a surprise, we let everybody know what we’re doing.

[youtube width=”450″ height=”340″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suT_q_kVuCI[/youtube]
By Evan Woon

Check out Sidney York’s crowdfunding campaign for new album <3s here.

The Horrors: Moving further ahead

Emerging from the Southend scene in early 2007 with their critically acclaimed debut album Strange House, The Horrors have since relocated to London and, in recent years, settled into their own studio, recording their last two albums independently. Two days shy of their first performance at Austin Psych Fest, I spoke with the brooding frontman, Faris Badwan, digging deep into the creative process of their latest release (which took a full fifteen months to make).

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Luminous, the band’s fourth full-length album, is a collection of glittery synth motifs along with elevated upbeat tempos. It is in stark contrast to the gothic, organ heavy, shouty tunes coupled with those aggressive stage antics the band was notorious for at the beginning. They’ve definitely matured drastically.

The band recently performed their first single ‘I See You’ at The Fly Awards in February with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Of the collaboration, Badwan says, “instantly, his guitar-playing style… fit in with us and it was cool how quickly he adapted to playing.”

Having wowed critics and music lovers with their Krautrock-inspired improvisations and unique sounds, The Horrors are known for being extremely experimental. With the infinite number possibilities using electronics in this age, it left me wondering; What was the Genesis of this record? “Now we’ve done four albums, you start to realise the patterns that you have to go through, and you know the difficult things you have to go through in the beginning and it kind of always falls in the same way. It takes you a while of constant recording to figure what the album will sound like,” Badwan explains.

“When you’re making anything, whether its art or music or writing, whatever, the hardest thing is knowing when to stop.”

With five multi-talented individuals writing alongside one another, there’s always a high tendency that it would be hard to come together and agree on everything. However in the case for The Horrors, “its more the songs, that kind of decide”, and “not letting ourselves repeat things too much”. Besides allowing the music to fuel the direction, Badwan also notes “I think it is a case about having to trust each others’ taste and sort of let it be a democratic thing. I think between us we can figure it out.” Also “depending on the song, different ones of us take more control.”

Their forward thinking methods have established The Horrors as completely one-of-a-kind. One could easily get blissfully lost in their explorative process of creating new music. When prompted about the band’s aim to create original material for the album, Badwan explained; “Well, I think we do want to create things that are original for us; we want to create things that we feel that we haven’t touched on. It doesn’t mean sort of completely changing genre every record, it just means more about pushing ourselves each time.”

“You want the songs to be the best, it’s not letting ourselves repeat things too much, I figure you have to keep moving forward.”

Having their own studio proved to be greatly beneficial to the process, as they had fewer restraints. “[We were] able to stay however many hours, to be able to make music at all times,” says Badwan. “Its not that we’re deliberately trying to shut the outside world out, the world that we are creating is kind of more exciting for us, and I think that we find it a lot easier to escape in our world than we do in the other one. I think its just more rewarding to be in there.”

Since the beginning, guitarist Joshua Hayward’s physics background has sparked an interest in taking apart guitar pedals, making different modifications to create specific sonic concoctions that has helped push the boundaries of their sound. “He’s always building stuff,” remarks Badwan, “The main thing I think was we had used some (Josh’s probably) pedals, to change the way the sounds fades away and I think its pretty unique for the guitar sounds.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlFZYk0xgn8[/youtube]

 

Another interesting addition to their plethora of devices used to make Luminous were the Pyramid synths from the ‘Changing The Rain’ music video that their label had made for them. “I suppose that was the most unusual instrument that we had… but it wasn’t the thing that we used the most because it broke really quickly; now its in the workshop,” Badwan explains.

In terms of the future, Badwan has one thing on his mind; “I think the main thing is we really wanna build this band; I don’t know what the band will be doing in 2 years. We’re very bad with conscious planning…” he says. “I guess that’s exciting for us because, especially when we demo songs, we don’t really know how they’re gonna end up turning out. I think that’s one of those things about being in a band.”

Luminous is out on 5 May.

By Maria Clare Khoo

Hostess Club Weekender returns for second show

Following a successful debut in February, Hostess Entertainment has announced a second edition of the Hostess Club Weekender on our shores.

This time slated to be held at Infinite Studios, the line-up boasts indie darling Cat Power as headliner, along with an intriguing selection of acts which include Blonde Redhead, Perfume Genius, Sohn and Toy from the label’s expansive repertoire.

The first Weekender, which brought us the National and Mogwai along with rising up-starts King Krule, Asgeir, and Buke & Gase, launched to a massive crowd at Fort Canning Park earlier this year.

The adventurous line-up adds to what is becoming an increasingly saturated year for shows, with many fans likely to still be recovering financially from Laneway and the first Hostess Club Weekender and preparing for the slew of shows to hit us in July including Slowdive, The 1975, and Bombay Bicycle Club.

This latest announcement comes as part of Hostess Entertainment’s regional expansion, with shows also announced in Manila and Taipei. The Japanese independent music company opened its first Southeast Asian office in Singapore last year.

By Andrew Koay

Deafheaven @ Beep Studios (3.05.14)

Never trust Google Maps.

It could lead to you wandering around for an hour in the heat, eventually abandoning all hope in technology. “Where could this place be?”, you’ll wonder. After stopping and thinking for a moment, you’ll remember that you are going to a Deafheaven show, and scan the area for black t-shirts.

Upon arrival at Beep Studios, we could sense the anticipation from the fans waiting around the courtyard; smoking on the steps, arguing over album superiority and gathering around one of the men they were all there to see. George Clarke‘s usual persona was surprisingly absent; out among the people his demeanour was the polar opposite of what we’d expect from the vocalist onstage. Polite, friendly and more than happy to stand for photo after photo with fans, he was signing anything they handed over. I instantly regretted leaving my copy of Sunbather back in Melbourne.

George eventually headed into the venue and the majority of the crowd followed, ready for their first taste of music for the night. Singapore locals Paris in the Making were up first and, with a few words from the band, they began their set. After a massive build up, the progressive hardcore group burst into a barrage of heavy hitting riffs and screams from the band’s frontman. They were tight, however their heavier moments were eclipsed by their “prettier” passages which illustrated the bands intricate instrumentals.

After the set came to a close, the fans scuttled out of the venue for another smoke and some air before the main event. “KittyWu are on a roll,” I heard someone say, and it’s true. In recent months the label/promoters have been doing everything right, bringing in Irish post-rockers And So I Watch You From Afar and Japanese math-rock girls Tricot for successful shows. Tonight was not going to be an exception.

wandered inside as the band was putting together the final touches before what was going to be a phenomenal set. The lights went down as the band (minus George) took to the stage, before bathing them in red. The band broke into ‘Dream House’ as George arrived on stage.  He commanded the stage entrancingly, and had all eyes squarely fixed on him. Part commander, part conductor, he flowed with the music, punched the air and gestured to the audience to creep forward. Once he opened his mouth, letting out a frighteningly high scream, the audience was putty in his hands.

What followed was a phenomenal assault on the senses as the band made their way through the rest of their highly acclaimed sophomore album Sunbather. It was great to see the somewhat timid crowd begin to loosen up, as they sang along to the melody of ‘Irresistible’. The band continued with extreme professionalism and energy, creating the most incredible wall of sound I have ever faced. With the band still playing, George jumped into the crowd and the devoted carried their “master”.

As George screamed the words “I am my father’s son” during ‘The Pecan Tree’, you could both hear the emotion in his voice and see it on his face. The power behind those words gave the whole audience a look inside the man in front of us. His veneer slightly cracked, and I was reminded of the guy I met outside before the show. Just a man, with incredible talent.

The room was still charged with energy when the band put down their instruments and waved thankfully to the crowd. It wasn’t the loudest cry for an encore I have ever heard, but you could tell the fans wanted more. After a quick “piss break” (in a beer can, apparently), the band returned to treat the dedicated fans to their 10-minute epic ‘Unrequited’, from their debut album Roads to Judah.

As the show came to an end, fans rushed to congratulate the band as they walked through the crowd to their dressing room. Deafheaven tore away all expectations, and hearing Sunbather in it’s entirety had left us drenched in the best way possible.

By Ale Launech

Home Club: This is the end, beautiful friend

Jim Morrison sings, “this is the end, beautiful friend” on the classic track ‘The End’, and these are the words that Home Club owner Roy Ng has left us with, following the announcement that after nearly 10 years, the venue will  be closing its Doors (ha).

The song pretty much encapsulates the whole situation perfectly, as the venue has been a labour of love right from the start, “our elaborate plans, the end“.

Arguably standing ground as one of the few and longest-standing venues in Singapore to bring live music to  us, the venue has played host to a number of our most memorable shows over the years, including controversial Canadian electronic musician Peaches, Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, experimental glitch artist Baths, and all-round weirdo Mac DeMarco to name a few, and more recently, the Blue Hour Sessions in collaboration with longstanding local music programme Identite.

The announcement of the club’s closure however, doesn’t come as a total surprise, given that Home Club’s in-house programming has been relatively sparse in recent months (and some may even say “uninspired” for years). It’s hard to tell whether this stems from punters’ lack of interest in supporting live music, or the fact that it may just be easier to simply settle for the catering of external events — a catch-22 either way you look at it, really. External factors have surely not made it easy either, considering the difficulties we face in the current state of our music scene.

Home Club will now be transformed into yet another ’boutique’ dance spot, resulting in the blaring of overplayed drivel, muffled beats, and D-grade cover bands that can be heard on an evening stroll along Clarke Quay. Shame.

The sad reality is that we have almost come to expect these closures. The Pigeonhole on Duxton Road, despite persistent crowd-funding efforts, was forced to shut down in December 2012; just last July, probably the city’s only truly underground (i.e. perfectly scungy) bar and sometimes-venue, Night & Day, also closed its doors for good.

Most recently, Broadcast HQ in Little India was another piece to fall in this looming domino effect. Although short-lived, the venue showed great potential, however, they were never even given a chance to find their feet due to preposterous licensing restrictions — a massive hinderance to the progression of our music scene.

The closure of Home Club may leave many misty-eyed, but even more so, we are curious to see how things pan out without it: what does this loss mean in the grand scheme of things? Where do promoters put on shows? How about local bands, where do they perform?

Having said that, not all is lost.  With the opening of Pink Noize on North Bridge Road in March, and with recent renovations at BluJaz’s third floor, we see that there are still people dedicated to fighting it out.

RIP Home Club.

by Ale Launech

Keep them coming! More acts announced for Music Matters

Last week we got our first taste of who to expect at this year’s instalment of Music Matters Live with HP. Now we can confirm the second batch of artists to be added to the already globe-spanning line-up.

Singapore locals wyd:syd and sub:shaman will be joining the line-up, as well as UK alt-rockers The Boxer Rebellion. They will be joined by a whole bunch of other bands from Singapore, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia and many more.

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Also announced, is the return of the festival’s country specific showcases including:
Korea’s K-Pop Night Out, Canadian Blast, The Aussie BBQ, JAPAN NIGHT, Bravo Taiwan and Singapore’s very own Made In Singapore featuring at six of the city’s finest. Sounds Australia will also be debuting Sound Gallery for the first time in Asia at Music Matters Live with HP, following success in SXSW (USA) and Canadian Music Week (Canada).

Check out the extended line-up and venue details below:

Music Matters Live with HP 2014:


Afgan (ID)
Art of Fresh (CA)*
Ash Grunwald (AUS)
Asian Chairshot (KR)*
Bamboo Star (HK)*
Bec Laughton (AUS)*
Buffalo Sunn (IR)
Bunkface (MY)
Cream (JP)*
Daybreak (KR)*
Dualist Inquiry (IN)
Dune Rats (AUS)
Empra (AUS)
Endah N Rhesa (ID)
Gareth Fernandez (SG)*
Gentle Bones (SG)
Hogan (IR)*
Jaurim (KR)*
Jeremy Neale (AUS)
JPNSGRLS (CA)*
Juveniles (FR)
KID MAC (AUS)*
Kyoto Protocol (MY)
Lim Kim (KR)*
Love X Stereo (KR)*
Lyon Apprentice (AUS)
Mad August (MY)
Mark Bonafide (SG)*
MC HotDog (TW)
Ming Bridges (SG)
Naoto Inti Rayami (JP)*
Oral Cigarettes (JP)*
Quarterback (TW)
Quest (PH)
SEYRA (SG)*
Sezairi (SG)
Shining Bird (AUS)*
Sidney York (CA)*
Slapshock (PH)
Sophie Koh (AUS)*
Stars and Rabbit (ID)
sub:shaman (SG)*
Sultan of the Disco (KR)*
Take Two (SG)*
The 13 Band (TW)
The Boxer Rebellion (UK)*
The Family Cheese (IN)*
The Love Junkies (AUS)*
The Pinholes (SG)*
The StoneWolf Band (PT)
Tired Lion (AUS)*
Trick (SG)
Tully on Tully (AUS)
wyd:syd (SG)*
Ying Hao (SG)*

(* indicates new addition)


Music Matters Live with HP festival,
Wednesday to Saturday, 21-24 May 2014 Venues:

  • Aquanova, Beer Market, China One, Crazy Elephant, Fern & Kiwi, Kuro, Paulaner, Shuffle, Fountain Stage @Clarke Quay, 3 River Valley Road, S179024
  • Switch, 73 Bras Basah Rd, NTUC Trade Union House #01-01, S 189556
  • Barber Shop, 1 Old Parliament Lane #01-03, Singapore, S 179429
  • Timbré @ Substation, 45 Armenian Street, S 179936

 

By Ale Launech