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INFLUENTIA: Robert Alfons of Trust on the influences behind Joyland

Robert Alfons of Trust on the surprising influences behind his new album: video games, '80s pop and CanLit.

- Mar 6, 2014
Welcome to INFLUENTIA, where we track the unusual, surprising, or interesting influences behind an artist's new album. Today, Robert Alfons of Trust curates a selection of video game music, books, and Kate Bush.

Robert Alfons thinks the new record he wrote as Trust is "a pop record." There's no immediate reason to dispute him: his dark electro project's second full-length Joyland (out now on Arts & Crafts) is far more prismatic than the steely and menacing tones of debut album TRST. But there's certainly an unmistakeable enthusiasm in the new tracks, perhaps thanks to Alfons' newly developed liberation.

"I definitely think the new record is a lot more playful and on purpose," he says of Joyland, his first since his former bandmate Maya Postepski left to focus on Austra. "I let myself dive into those other emotions and those other sort of ideas, whereas the first one I kept a mood to it."

It wasn't a straight path to Joyland. Some of the albums songs were written even before TRST, but Joyland couldn't have been made without the touring and travelling enabled by that record. "I definitely got inspired by the energy of playing live shows a lot, travelling to different places and writing music in those different places." But other influences that left their mark on the record include video game soundtracks, Canadian authors, and some musical cues that might come as a surprise from a guy who spends a lot of time dodging the "goth" label.

Video Game Soundtracks

Robert Alfons: This new record is definitely inspired by a lot of video games. I grew up in Winnipeg, which is not really a small town but still sort of isolated and lame. Growing up without internet, playing a lot of video games was an easy outlet for me to be listening to a lot of music. And yeah, those soundtracks. [The composers] were very limited with what they could do and what sort of technology they had. The production’s really charming.

Chart: Do you admire those limitations?

Yeah, absolutely. And the results are really special. They’re meant to represent these fantasy worlds, and the sounds reflect that.

Donkey Kong Country, "Aquatic Ambience" and "Oil Drum Alley"

Best VGM 172 - Donkey Kong Country - Aquatic Ambiance

Donkey Kong Country - Oil Drum Alley

Robert Alfons on "Oil Drum Alley": "I used to make up polka lines to that song."

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, "Saria's Song"

Zelda Ocarina of Time Music- Saria's Song

Metal Gear Solid 2, "Opening Infiltration"

Metal Gear Solid 2 Soundtrack - Opening Infiltration

Super Mario RPG, "Forest Maze"

Super Mario RPG Music: Forest Maze


Robert: There’s this book I fell in love with called Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. She’s a Canadian writer. I just really connected with the main character and the language of [someone] who is trying to figure out the balance of his sort of fantasy world and where he actually is. It’s a retelling of a Greek myth in modern times.     

I really fell in love with Flannery O’Connor, more specifically the book Wise Blood. I’ve read some of her short stories before and they’re amazing, but this book is super intense. She just creates terrifying and amazing worlds.  She’s just an interesting character.

Chart: Is Joyland a place for you?

Robert: It’s whatever you want. It’s definitely very elemental, and a lot of the visuals are of volcanoes and [the] exciting things that exist in our own world. But it’s also extremely within myself and [the] different layers within there. All the songs tell different stories.


Robert: Lots of acid house, early techno. I have a deep love for Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins...those are big influences for the record.

Classic Acid House Mix by Jon Carter

Kate Bush, Hounds Of Love

Cocteau Twins, Heaven or Hell

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