Sun rays warm bodies as aspirations stir from tinder to flame. It’s beautiful outside: for some, exam season is over and school’s out for the summer; for others, being broke might suck a little less with some free Vitamin D to go around; and for all, there is nothing like emerging from heavy layers of winter blues to discover new sounds and musical groves.
This summer, I’ve resolved to step out of my usual musical comforts and head towards the place where electronic, drone and pop meet, starting with Saxsyndrum, local duo made up of David Switchenko on the tenor sax and Nick Schofield on percussions. Saxsyndrum is signed to Art Not Love Records. Graciously, Schofield took some time to provide some insight on this local gem.
Saxsyndrum released their SXD_EP in winter 2014. It is a sonic daydream with tracks 1-3 composed only with sax samples and 4-6 with percussion samples. They dive into the slipstream between analog and digital – creating and sharing musings that are not only moving but beckon movement. Maceonectar is a standout track as is Lac Marsan.
Schofield and Switchenko met in a previousband named Bananafish which also boasted members of Smokes – Nick Maas and Patrick Cruveiller. After Bananafish disbanded in 2010, Schofield and Switchenko kept jamming together, Schofield explained, “we’ve kinda been like the rhino and goat buddies ever since.”
When they aren’t playing their tunes, members of Saxsyndrum can usually be found doing something music-related: Schofield hosts a radio show while Switchenko loves to dance. Their passion for all things music oriented isn’t surprising as Saxsyndrum has been involved in numerous festivals, a recurrent act on the roster of several tastemakers including Passovah, Blue Skies Turn Black and Pop Montreal.
Saxsyndrum has also been a regular at Duckstock, which Schofield described as “a tiny friend-fest with Montreal bands at a family cottage. There’s a PA and like 20 bands play. We’ve played, I think, 7 years running.”
Indeed Saxsyndrum seem plugged in to the importance of a being part of a music community. They regularly collaborate with local acts producing inspired and refreshing tracks. One of these is a Lykke Li cover collaboration with Sea O’Leena, a lo fi shoegaze artist whose body of work is making waves. The track is a sweet, slightly melancholic, and sprightly take on the original – the musical chemistry is just right.
“Back in fall 2013, a bunch of friends, including Dave [Switchenko] and Charlotte [Sea O’leena] were at The Plant for a drone sleepover. Somehow, it turned into a psych-yoga dance party, with like touchy tai chi style dance moves…” Schofield recounted, “the next day, I’m on the bus to Ottawa, glowing from the night before, and dance dance dance comes on my phone randomly. I actually started working on the cover right then and a month later we all performed it live at Casa del Popolo for our album launch. After that, I decided to produce a studio version, which features Patrick Cruvellier on violin and Patrick Latreille on bass.”
In the spirit of being inspired by the work of fellow musicians, Saxsyndrum also recently released a remix of Smokes’ recent single Body Heat.
“We love their new single,” Schofield said, “So we just got the stems and dug in. Dave and I were excited about the drum sound especially, and the feeling of Nick’s vocals, both of which we really brought out over a punchy 5/4 beat. Dave also wanted to highlight the ‘monster’ reference and expose the lyrics at the end.”
When it comes to songwriting, Schofield explained that their process has changed over time:
“We started off jamming in all it’s unfiltered glory, but now we just make demos. We hash out ideas on our own, bring them to the table at various stages, and craft them together towards the end in the studio and live. “
Perhaps there is a little magic in the Saxsyndrum breakfast combo, an Olympico latte and a Chez de Gaulle croissant, with which they begin most studio sessions.
According to Schofield, as a band, Saxsyndrum finds inspiration for their songs and performances from the following: “In the words of a friend, we want people to move and be moved by our music.”
Not long ago, Saxsyndrum added a vocalist to their line up:
“How we got our singer is kinda ridiculous,” Schofield laughed, “so we’re playing at a beautiful in-the-woods music festival called Echo Fest in Quebec, when AP Bergeron from Year of Glad kinda points at himself, then the microphone, then drunkenly ambles on stage and starts singing with us. That was like his audition, and now he’s gonna be singing all over our next album!”
Montreal folks can catch Saxsyndrum on July 16th at Casa del Popolo