Toronto’s Bad Channels have released Exo to coincide with the announcement that their forthcoming ‘Lost Time I’ EP will be out via Buzz Records on June 9th. Take a listen to Exo via Soundcloud below.
The EP is Bad Channels’ first formal release on the label, though the principle members, Nick Grottick and Jess Gierusz have been friends since they were teenagers, and began collaborating musically under the name in 2012. Initially working primarily as producers, they created beats for rappers ISSUE, Kitty Pryde and more worked on Antwon’s 2016 EP, ‘Double Ecstasy’.
As the project evolved, Grottick and Gierusz became interested in incorporating a broader range of influences into their sound, diverting attention from their production work and immersing themselves in Toronto’s thriving DIY scene as they focused on new material that featured Gierusz as a vocalist, and added new members to the live band to better recreate the densely layered arrangements of their early demos. In this form, they went with a new direction, spending a year developing their live show playing with acts like HEALTH and U.S. Girls, building a sound that combines ethereal synthpop with noisier, almost industrial elements, recalling influences as varied as Section 25, Ministry, Cocteau Twins and Toronto contemporaries like Crystal Castles, and Purity Ring.
Last year, as their new approach began to solidify, Bad Channels released an Akira-inspired single called Stars, an inventive electronic dreampop song that FADER praised for it’s “lush, complexly-layered” arrangement, and the track served as a foundation for the band to build upon as they refined the material that would make up ‘Lost Time I’.
Exo picks up where Stars left off, building around an elaborate and hypnotic vocal arrangement complimented by production elements that Grottick describes as “an attempt to take bright 80s production tropes like DX7 bells and Steve Lillywhite drum sounds and make them as evil as possible.” The track warps a retro aesthetic into a decidedly dystopian sound that recalls the tone of Vangelis’ Blade Runner score, or some of John Carpenter’s work without directly resembling either, and according to Grottick concerns the ugly way people sometimes react when they are called out on their privelege.
“The original demo of ‘Exo’ that I initially sent Jess had me talk-singing with pretty much every pitch and vocoder effect on my voice to the point where i sounded like a cyber monster, but when Jess overlaid her vocals over mine, she ended up doing so many amazing harmonies that she started to sound like a vocoder without any effects at all, to the point where we decided to cut my original vocals entirely,” Grottick tells Noisey. “We’d been making a conscious effort to stop burying our vocals in reverb and effects on our new material, but on this song we wanted the vocals to sound different than the other songs because its sung from the perspective of a character who’s basically a monster. The character in the song is a representation of the way people tend to get defensive when called out on their privilege, like a dog baring its teeth when you try to take its bone.”
In support of the release Bad Channels are playing a run of dates with Mannequin Pussy and ZONES – find out more detail below.
3. Lost Time
4. Sad Channels
05/18 Toronto, ON – Smiling Buddha w/ Mannequin Pussy
06/01 Ottawa, ON – Avant-Garde Bar w/ ZONES
06/02 Montreal, QC – L’Escogriffe w/ ZONES
06/03 Guelph, ON – Van Gogh’s Ear w/ZONES