On the 28th May, Montreal band TOPS will once again be gracing the fair city of Berlin with their ethereal, sublime tones. Headed by songwriters Jane Penny and Dave Riley, the outfit released their second album, Picture You Staring last year to critical acclaim, and have pretty much been touring since. When I talked to Jane the singer from the band last week, she was in Belgium relaxing at a friends place. Life seems breezy at the moment for these atmospheric raconteurs, despite being one of the most hyped bands of this and last year. Its easy to understand listening to the bands music why. With a vocalist who sounds like a smoother more breathy Stevie Nicks, and music reminiscent of 1980’s AM radio, left outside to warp and weirdify for too long. TOPS are the perfect soundtrack to peer through the convoluted post modern lens in which we live in today in 2015.
Thanks to the folks at Shameless/Limitless, Local Suicide are happy to be giving away two separate door passes for the concert at Privatclub Thursday 28th May. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be more than happy to hook you up.
Me and Jane rambled at each other over Skype the other day, here’s what we talked about:
LSD: Your songs seem very 70’s and 80’s inspired. They have a real dreamy quality but are just twisted enough to give the feeling somethings not quite right. Do you chase this aesthetic of warping commercial music from the past as a sort of middle finger to commercialism?
Well first of all I don’t really think that aesthetics in music are tied to politics these days. I think from my perspective, the internet has given us access to any music from anywhere at any time. We just want to take the best of all of this, whether its sonically or songwriting, and create something that ideally sounds new and unique.
I think that also with the advent of the internet. Any kind of commercialism, is created mostly through imagery. I think we really consider this when we are making videos. But I don’t think that any of us think that a good song is eating at any capitalist scheme or anything that seems kind of ridiculous.
LSD: So essentially as a band you’re about crafting solid pop music?
Yea experimental pop things.
LSD: I remember as a kid I found 80’s music super hard to digest, but as I got older I was able to see past the surface and appreciate it for the textures the, songwriting and the sense of space in the music. Which sometimes leans to a psychedelic kind of thing. Do you relate to that?
Yea totally. I feel it depends on when you find music. Especially when you’re in a juvenile stage in your life or maybe even in a young adult stage when you feel like you’ve really defined yourself and then something else is running completely contrary. A really good example is New Age Music from the 90’s. A lot of people thought it was just repellant elevator music, or something that a massage therapist listens to but what no-one else should. But theres like a huge revival of that. A lot of people are appreciating that stuff nowadays and will work it into really conceptual electronic music. I found that with the 80’s too. People have said things to us like “ohhh you should be more self respecting musicians than to use 80’s synths”. But they are some of the warmest analogue equipment you can buy. To me the 80’s is a peak of development in synthesizers and production. David and I both considert it one of the hey-days of music.
I definitely go through that kind of thing though I don’t like a lot of the music I grew up around, like Soundgarden or Korn, all this super masculine 90’s music, it always made me feel excluded as a kid. thats the kind of stuff that I can’t deal with…But I mean it’s context right.
LSD: Yea totally. From the future you can look back with a different lens and take what you want from it
Yea maybe there will be a new metal, grunge resurgence and I’ll totally be digging it. A 2030 Emo-Limp Bizkit resurgence.
LSD: I hope not. thats a scary thought… So you’re from Montreal it seems like there’s a really great musical community there.
Yea its great it’s probably the cheapest city to live in Canada, and there theres a lot of artists that live there. A lot of people who just like to celebrate life. I think theres sort of a European indulgence in life thats carried over there. Kinda reminds me of Berlin actually.
LSD: Can you give us some tips on young artists coming out of Montreal at the moment?
I really like Marie Davidson. She’s a French Canadian artist who does like really minimal electro kind of stuff. I also really like Homeshake. He used to play guitar with our buddy Mac de Marco. Its kinda like a smoother, jazzier, sexier thing. I really like it.
LSD: So things are going good for TOPS at the moment, what have you got coming up next.
Well we’re finish touring around mid June and then we’re just gonna start recording again. We’ve got a bunch of half finished songs and we just really wanna get back into the studio.
TOPS play at Privatclub 28th May. Tickets available from Ticketmaster for 12Euro.