Uncharted is our weekly showcase of independent artists we think you should hear. This week we speak to April Aliermo, one half of Phédre (and member of Hooded Fang), about her relationship with Phédre counterpart and regular collaborator Daniel Lee.
For the better part of the '00s, Canadian indie music was populated by scenes. You know the kind: bands with rotating musicians, musicians with rotating bands, lots of triumphant, arm-in-arm emotionality. For the next decade, too many Canadian bands sought the promise of those scenes – warm fuzzy feelings, eternal BFFdom, indie mythology – more than the actual practice of sharing and inspiring new ideas in a group. Cherishing the past more than the future is a fast path to a landscape of stagnant music.
Thankfully, we've been seeing more progressive music microcosms flourishing all across the country, including Daniel Lee and April Aliermo who make up Phédre, and are almost a scene unto themselves. They released a record earlier this year with their four-piece Hooded Fang; Daniel's band Hut did too; and there's their very good Tonka Puma project. None of them really sound like Phédre, though, which showcases their experimental, electronic, and futuristic urges on their 2012 self-titled record and its forthcoming follow up Golden Age. You can see for yourself - a while back we shot them performing a song that wound up on this record.
In advance of Golden Age's release on Oct 1st via DAPS Records, I spoke to April ("Apes" if you're her friend) over the phone to find out about this record, and hear more about her creative and personal relationship with Daniel.
Hey. So Phedre just played a show a few days ago, on the 31st [of August], right?
I never have, actually.
What? It’s a great bar. It’s super tiny so it was really packed and sweaty, and there were art installations, cabbage on the ground, lights everywhere
There was cabbage on the ground?
Yeah, it was part of an art installation…
That sounds messy.
I guess it depends how you look at it. It was messy, and kind of neat, and eventually cabbage was flying everywhere…
Do you tap into a different side of your personality with Phedre compared to Hooded Fang?
Yes and no. I feel like with Phedre, because it’s just the two of us there’s more room for us to express ourselves whereas when you’re in a band with more people who don’t necessarily have the same aesthetics as you, there’s more compromise and a lot more space sharing. We’re still ourselves in Hooded Fang; just exuding energy in a different way.
How do fewer voices affect the writing process?
I guess it’s a lot more intimate. We can spend all day or weeks and weeks locked up in a space together because our relationship is really great. There’s comfort in being able to write and create freely, to go really deep into parts of ourselves that we’re not always comfortable going to with other people. We’ve known each other for so long. We’ve worked together for over eight years, and that’s a long time to work intensely with someone. It’s a lot of time and energy and emotion and love and hate. Eight years is a long time.
I remember Daniel saying that when the first time you met each other he was just hitting on you. Was your relationship ever a romantic one?
Being so close you just end up having a bunch of different kinds of relationships. I don’t think it’s quite definable. The world’s not black and white, the world’s a spectrum, you know? But we’re best friends, and maybe because we’re opposite sex there can be certain tensions that arise. But we actually feel like weird cousins or brother and sister in a way.
Were you working on this record while doing stuff with Hooded Fang?
No, we can’t really think under both those hats. It happened right after. We had just finished the Hooded Fang tour and were in Germany. We subletted an apartment and wrote the whole thing in there. And then our friend Ian Gomes mastered it at his studio.
So were you working on the record 24/7?
Mentally, it’s always 24/7... Usually we’re living our regular Toronto lives and then meet up to write in between. But for this month and a half or so, it was always on our mind and it was difficult to try to enjoy being in the city. We didn’t see as much of Berlin as we would have if we’d been on holiday. We were always thinking about the project. Even when we went out to a couple of techno dance parties, it was still on our mind. We’re always like that.