Steven McKay of Bruce Peninsula goes solo

steven mckay solo

It always seems like quite the effort for a musician to break from a band mold and go solo. From finding their own sound, to testing the waters, to making sure everyone else is okay with it, to seeing if they actually can do it. Steven McKay, drummer for Bruce Peninsula, has tickled his solo fancy on and off since 2006, but recently gave it more of a kick with his self-titled debut full-length album.

It had been about getting back to his interest in guitar, but he also wanted to find his own spotlight.

“I have two personalities really,” he said in an interview with AUX. “The drummer and then the singing, songwriter guy.”

McKay admits that part of this record was a call for attention. As the backbone of Bruce Peninsula, during concerts, he’d literally be in the back. People would even come up to him after, saying ‘so that band was good, eh?’



Stories: Olenka and the Autumn Lovers – And Now We Sing

olenka and the autumn lovers and now we sing

Stories is a new feature for RoundLetters. Stories was born out of the tiredness I’ve been feeling towards reviewing albums these days, mixed with the fact that I’ve been yearning to get back into creative writing. The idea behind Stories is that instead of doing the typical blog album review, I’ll write a short story that comes from what I think about while listening to the album and possibly taking from the lyrics. I’m aware other blogs have their own takes on this kind of writing, but this was something I want to do, and have been planning for a while.

So please, be brutally honest with what you think about it, and if you think this could work for RoundLetters.

As a wonderful start to this series, I’ve selected Olenka and the Autumn Lovers‘ new album, And Now We Sing. The album could likely end up on my top 10 list of this year. Olenka has a wonderful voice, in its folk and country shine; it’s like it’s been taken out of the past. Her songwriting is meticulous and deep, like it’s been rooted. Olenka’s album is the perfect start for this series because she already has her own stories looping through and through. Her space becomes this quilt of memories, nostalgia, knowledge of the earth. She also has surrounded herself with equally fantastic musicians, giving the Autumn Lovers sound this lush, all-knowing warmth. There’s a lot to digest in And Now We Sing, from bittersweet gestures to rise ups to the settle, so let it sink in.

“Clean” is my stand-out favourite track, so I chose to base this story on it. I can’t tell you whether to listen to the song before, during or after you read this, so, here’s the link and you decide.

Olenka will play the Horseshoe on November 25 with the Wilderness of Manitoba and Leif Vollebekk.

So, here you go, here’s my version of “Clean.” Please let me know what you think!

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Chilly Gonzales debuts new film and album in Toronto

chilly gonzales ivory tower

Canadian born, European bred Chilly Gonzales has conquered a few of his musical goals already (breaking a Guinness World Record to name one), but the most recent was making a film. It comes hand in hand with his newest album of the same name, Ivory Tower.

The album was almost finished before the writing of the movie, but the two started to blend together naturally. “I heard the music, it was quite cinematic, and I was also shocked at the amount of energy I was going to have,” said Gonzales in a recent interview with AUX. “So with all that energy, I could really think of something that’s going to be bigger than the album, and it turned out to be the movie.”

Gonzales has been in Toronto this week promoting both. There was a special screening for cast and crew on Monday evening at the Camera Bar. Starring Tiga, Peaches and himself, it revolves around two brothers in their fight over chess, a lady and dignity.


Interview: Colleen and Paul

When you make music, is it about what you’re making or who you’re making it with? In Colleen and Paul’s case, it’s the latter. The Toronto indie pop/folk duo of Colleen Hixenbaugh and Paul Linklater are rising with their debut self-titled album, but it isn’t the first time they’ve played together. In fact, their first partnership, Jack and Ginger, went sour. But now they’re back, learning about each other all over again and making happy melodies along the way. AUX recently had a chance to sit down with the duo at Toronto’s new Sugar Beach under fancy fake pink umbrellas on fake sand to talk about things that are real.


Interview and Review: Winter Gloves – All Red

The following was originally published on

winter gloves all red interview review

Winter Gloves
All Red
By Jessica Lewis

Winter Gloves’ pleasant melodies and playful attitude make something that works, especially when they’re singing about youth and awkward situations. Their songs have slightly evolved since 2008’s About a Girl, with more keyboards and a bass. They’re moulded into quick pop, and that’s just what frontman Charles F wanted. He took over as producer for this effort, realizing he desired his songs to be to the point, but full of life. For songwriting, he turned to his not-so-happy teen days, but while producing, he grew into the project, knowing what he wanted from his band and how to execute it. All Red was recorded quickly, but the band were given an extension to go over everything again. It’s clean and sparkly, but itches to dance with youthful frustration. “Strange Love” uses a sturdy bass background that moves into a synth chorus, while “Plastic Slides” and “We Need Transportation” have great guitar strength and harmonies. “Use Your Lips” and “Trap the Mouse” get sexy, with darker grooves, but “Gym Class” and “Tooth Fairy” go a little more childlike. The Montreal quartet achieved their goals with this album, so let a little dance out in celebration.

“All Red is about awkward dance floor moments,” can you elaborate on that?
Charles F: When I’m playing music, I write songs about high school. Not that I liked or miss high school; I hated it. But there’s something awkward about it. I’ve got a younger brother; he’s 15 years old. We’ve got almost 14 years between us; it’s really strange. So I can see my life through his, but 14 years later, which is really great. When I see him telling me about high school stuff, I just realize how awkward all this is. I remember stories about high school, but I didn’t really like high school.

If you didn’t like it, are you drawn to the youthful energy while you’re writing?
Maybe; it really happened naturally. I didn’t want to make a high school record; I’m not talking about that every song. Every song is a different topic, but sometimes it’s 100 topics at the same time. Sometimes I just don’t even understand myself.

You don’t know what you’re writing about?
It’s just images I see and stuff that I want to write about; it just ends up being what it is.

Tell me about All Red.
We started to work on the project right after the release of About a Girl. There are a few songs that were written right after About a Girl in 2008. And then the other half was written two weeks before wrapping up the project; it was really strange. Basically, All Red is like, probably still around high school and then dance floor, awkward situations. But as I said, there are a few fresh songs that we did two weeks before that sound really different. Now, when I’m listening back to the album, I really hear the album in two different parts. The first one being the new songs and the other being the songs that have been written for a while. We have our studio now in Montreal. We thought, “let’s produce it ourselves,” so I started producing it and writing songs. The cool thing that happened too was I got to work with each of the guys separately and I really liked that. Instead of getting all the band together and just jamming and trying to find ideas, I wrote every part, but when I wanted to write a drum part, I would be with Patrick [Sayers]. At the same time, it was really intense because I was the producer on it, and I was also the artist, so sometimes you just end up not knowing what you’re doing. You have a big day and you’re like, “okay, that was just a waste of time” and you do the same thing over and over again.

Do you like being a producer?
I really like it. At first, I didn’t want to do it, but I’m so stubborn, so it was just a better idea than having somebody else do it. I mean, next time for Winter Gloves, I would like to have a co-producer, somebody that has more experience and a crazy engineer that drinks a lot of coffee. I would like those people to work with me because the thing is, you just end up doing everything, which is kind of crazy: record the vocal tracks in the afternoon, at night you listen to the whole thing and then in the early morning, editing. I got a lot of help from Vincent [Chalifour] because he’s an engineer, so it made it a little easier.

Did you produce the first one?
The first one we did with John Drew. We recorded About a Girl in one week in Toronto, ON, so we didn’t really have the time to get exactly where we were going. We went back to Montreal, produced the other half of the record, recorded the tracks and mixed it ourselves. It was a good experience to work with a producer, but we didn’t have time to make something happen.

That made you want to do it yourself this time?
Yeah, exactly: have more time; working ourselves; it cost us money to have space to do it; go everyday. You don’t feel like you’re renting a studio with a crazy producer, which I would like to do one day, but now for the money we have, it made more sense to do it myself.

Are you kind of a perfectionist?
Yes and no, it depends. Some stuff I really wanted the way I wanted and sometimes the way I wanted is not perfect.

Did you guys have any big disputes while recording?
Not much. I’m a big fighter. In the studio, I used to try to be the good guy and I’m not doing that anymore, so everybody’s afraid of me, so that’s good.

You’re really drawn into making dance-y music. What are some of your influences?
I started very young with Michael Jackson, but now I’m more listening to a new band I really like called Class Actress; I think they’re from Brooklyn, NY. And I’m a big fan of LCD Soundsystem and Damon Albarn of the Gorillaz.

But you came from different music.
Yeah, that’s true. I started out as a drummer in a jazz band. So I wasn’t really into jazz music, but I was really enjoying playing it for a while. I was just too lazy to listen to long piano solos and drum solos, and I was a little bored with all that. Even if it was really good music, I just wanted to write music to the point: short, a few verses, a chorus and then another song. I didn’t want to write long songs with bridges.

So you came from music you decided you weren’t interested in anymore. Do you think that will happen again?
I don’t think so; it doesn’t feel the same way. Jazz music was just playing standards, playing old songs that have been played for many, many years. The music was a tool for us musicians to express ourselves as a drummer or a piano player or upright bass player and we were just playing the songs, but the goal in my band would be to perform. Now it’s a little different. My first goal is to write songs that I like that I hope people will enjoy and dance on it, and I want to play those songs live. They’re more personal than the other stuff I was doing. (Paper Bag)

Interview: !!!’s Nic Offer

The following was originally published on

chk chk chk !!! strange weather isn't it interview

By Jessica Lewis

It’s been a rough few years for !!!. Since 2007’s Myth Takes, the dance-funk band with legs in NYC, Sacramento, Portland and Pittsburgh has suffered through the death of previous drummer Jerry Fuchs and the departure of members John Pugh, Justin Vandervolgen and Tyler Pope. They were looking for a fresh way to represent the changes they’ve gone through, and with new members, they’ve come out of the bad funk remarkably. Strange Weather, Isn’t It? is strong and focused, but it addresses the sadness with a maturity that we haven’t seen from them before. We had the opportunity to chat with front man Nic Offer about growing up, worrying what others thought, competition, writing and the evolution of music. But the !!! style will never die, as underwear, sweat, Saturday Night Live, the Beatles and Inception all worked their way in as well.

I saw you last time you were here at the Opera House.
Oh was it the real old place? Was it cold outside? Hmm…

Yeah. You know what will make you remember? The back of your pants ripped.
Um, you’d be surprised how many times that’s happened. I had one pair of pants that I had to sew the back of three times. After the third time they ripped in the back of the pants, it was on the last night of our world tour, and I was like “okay that’s the end of these pants.”

Yeah it was shocking… you had nothing underneath.
Well that has been a while because I now do wear underwear.

No more shockers at the upcoming shows.
Well hopefully there will be something shocking.

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Exclusive RoundLetters Q&A: Teen Daze

teen daze four more years interview

I’d like to introduce you to Teen Daze. Teen Daze is one guy in Abbotsford, BC. He makes chillwave on his bedroom computer and doesn’t reveal his name. You are a fan out there in the world, who might not know what chillwave is, but I think you’ll like it, and I think you shouldn’t care about the no-name thing. Now shake hands.

Teen Daze recently released an album titled Four More Years. It’s a beautiful haze of soft sounds and vocals, but there’s also a few adrenaline spurts in there. It will calm you, it will excite you. It will make you appreciate the exact moment you are in every time you listen. It’s funny how dreamy club music can come out of a guy’s bedroom (insert pun), as that inspiration obviously comes from somewhere else, but he nails it, like on the running “Shine On, You Crazy White Cap” or the hula-hoop of “Gone for the Summer.”

Teen Daze is making more of a name for himself in the States right now, using the fact that he’s a recent Pitchfork darling for his solo and remix work to his advantage. He finds that the kind of music he makes has more of an appeal to the west coast, and that’s where more of his kind are coming from. Here in Toronto, we’ve heard many things similar, but nothing has ever been this clear and yet so hazy to me in just the right way. I’m hoping he starts to get more noticed around here and can eventually tour this way. Read on, as you’ll see him tackle all of these topics with me.

Four More Years is a must-hear. It captures nostalgia, dreams and smooth beats, making it pleasing for any kind or time of day. Carry Teen Daze in your pocket as you walk to work when the sun’s still rising, or set him down on a table at a party while the sun’s waiting for its next rotation.

mp3 download: Teen Daze — “Saviour”

Teen Daze recently chatted with me about the album, how people perceive his music, being anonymous, all of the Pitchfork attention and what it’s like looking back on teen days in the mid-twenties, especially after leaving your hometown. So, now that you’ve shook hands, it’s time to get to know the man behind the music.

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