Welcome to an Interview with Canada's most distinguished children's musician. There is an acoustic performance at the end of the interview with a song from Fred's new album.
While sitting comfortably in the avant-garde Madhus Cafe in East York my mind was forever opened. What started as an interview became a philosophical discussion and my introduction to life on the dark side. In certain circles, Chris Lefort is well known as DI AUGER, which loosely translates from German as, “what these eyes have seen”. A Torontonian of German/Hungarian descent, DI AUGER is a musician, producer, DJ, artist and photographer. Initially, he intended his music to be Neo-Folk, with less aggressive elements and much more ambience. However, his direct influences got the better of him, instead creating what he calls Neo-Industrial Goth Rock. DI AUGER's recorded catalogue includes an EP, Six Plays 'Til Doomsday, as well as two full-length albums: Horse Storm Rising and White Label/Black Noise. With these, Lefort has created a progression of songs that all intertwine to combine political and religious themes, as well as the often equally taboo subject of witchcraft.
One song that exemplifies the political is “American Voodoo”, appearing on his earlier EP Horse Storm Rising; another version of this track is on the more recent White Label/Black Noise. This album is packed with intense political and anti-establishment ideals. “American Voodoo” elucidates DI AUGER's perception that Americans are 'hypnotized' by their media and politicians into believing they are the centre of the world. According to Lefort, “It is a cultural phenomenon on a belief system that is falling apart.” Lefort doesn't believe in institutionalized religion. He indeed “wants something more radical.” Lefort often refers to himself as an “optimistic nihilist.”
Touching on other themes entirely, the eloquent and mesmerizing song “Perfect”, from Horse Storm Rising, is about his muse and co-conspirator Amber Fette. The two work in unison on his projects, as Fette does all of the photographic art for DI AUGER's albums.
Bleak yet hopeful, as a DJ, DI AUGER has been coming up in the Goth/Industrial scene. This past June, he had the honor of guest-DJing with Dwight Hennings, host of a monthly event known as HYBRID. Since then, Lefort has moved up the 'Goth ladder' to The Cage on College Street and now provides entertainment every Saturday night, during their 'Rage in the Cage' event.
Based on Lefort's musical influences, it is easy to discern the origins of his dark, ambient, and sometimes angry lyrics. He has always been fascinated with the controversial band Consolidated, impressed with how they brought real societal issues to the forefront throughout their music. Canadian industrial band Skinny Puppy is another major influence, as well as The Sisters of Mercy, Nine Inch Nails, Prodigy, Current 93 (a band formed by David Tibet), and Claudio Simonetti's GOBLIN.
DI AUGER will be celebrating the release of a commemorative edition of his new EP, QUADRAPUS, on Devil's Night (October 30) at The Cage. QUADRAPUS is four tracks that will be available on SoundCloud and YouTube which include “I Ate The Moon”, “Vampyr”, “Teeth”, and “Song of Rebellion”. There is another EP in progress entitled Silentium, the Italian word for silent, which will be all-instrumental. Due to be released on November 30 through iTunes and Amazon, it includes six tracks: “Soldier's Song (Remix)”, “Into The Void”, “Rocktopussy”, “Grave Hag”, “Tears of Stone”, and “Zeuge Das Licht”.
Lefort believes that today technology intertwines with political systems, empowering and simultaneously controlling populations. I asked him, "If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?" He responded quite bluntly with, “Tolerance.” A heartening thought for anyone who might find his otherwise unique and left-field approach to be off-putting.
If you take time to delve into the world of DI AUGER, you will begin to see the symbolism behind each song and how all of his music connects into a curiously optimistic yet apocalyptic interpretation of life in the 21st century.
Check out DI AUGER here:
Interview by: Bonnie L. Bonser
Edited by: Jesse Kline
During CMW we were lucky enough to sit down with Ross and Pare of Brews Willis. They are quickly becoming a Toronto Music Reviews favourite. They have made our CMW Top 10 and we feel so lucky to have had the chance to talk to these wildly talented musicians.
Tell me how your band came together.
Pare: The real story or the Ross version?
Ross: Go with the real one.
P: You go with it.
R: How we came together? God, you know I think we were all just out drinking and having fun. Pare’s got a wood shop that we sometimes hang out in, and we used to have this mini half pipe in there we used to just go there drink a lot and skateboard and make fools of ourselves. One day we just decided why not just have some fun, make some music. Pare’s a drummer. I’m a guitar player. Sam didn’t have anything but good looks. We thought looks could go quite a long way in a band, So, we gave him a bass, said “Learn how to play this thing.” Surely enough he learned how to play it, and the rest is history.
Tell me a little bit about your writing process.
R: I guess I do most of that, initially. How its starts is, I will just sit down for 2 or 3 nights at a time and just bang out 4 or 5 songs at once. I guess most writers will tell you this, sometimes you just feel creative for a while, and then you will go weeks, months, sometimes a year or more with nothing. So, when you do feel that you kinda sit down, go at it. We jam a couple times a week. I bring tunes to these guys and they take what I started and turn it into something a lot more. Everything happens very quickly.
What is more important, writing a song with a good message or a good beat?
R: I think there’s a spot for both. For us... We’re a fun party band. The message can only go so far with a lot of our stuff. We’re just in it to have a good time up there. It means something to us. If it means something to other people that’s cool. If not you know, we’re still having a hell of a time making music and playing music.
Who inspires you?
P: Vibes like good times with friends and partying is a lot of the inspiration. For me, Skateboard culture and things like that really inspired me to be in a band. I remember watching a lot of skateboard videos. The music is there. It’s not always about who the band is, but it goes well with everything else. The whole culture and a lot of the vibes. I get inspired by that lifestyle side. By Skateboarding and partying. Whether it’s drinking beers in the park with some buds, or hitting the beach, or the island. It’s always a good time and I think music has to be there, so I want to write and play music that fits in those scenarios. I think a lot of my musical tastes as far as bands I like reflect that too.
R: Some of the bands we’re playing with even tonight. King Tuff and tomorrow, Together Pangea, we listen to quite regularly. Fidlar, their shows are also absolutely wild, so that was kind of the vibe.
Some of your songs have risqué names. Are you concerned at all that they might hold you back?
R: You must have read a lot of the tracks from our first album. The first album... when we came up with a lot of those song names I think we were just drunk. I actually even think we were at a concert. You and I were at Best Coast and Waves were playing at the Phoenix I think and we just got a little tipsy and started rhyming out 4 word band names and they just seemed to stick with us and we remember them the next day. They all kind of mean something to us, but for the most part they are just funny things we came up with.
P: With song names there is always going to be something that appeals to one person, but then turns off someone else. I think setting the tone with our first record and even to see the differences from our EP to now, our new record, there is a little bit more maturity. It’s still super fun stuff, but I think if it appealed to you back then, then the new stuff will still appeal to you. If the old joking around immature stuff really turned you off then you probably wouldn’t be into us now. I think it was good filter back then, when we did our first stuff we aimed to turn off the people who weren’t even into us, and have the fun people who don’t take things too seriously further gravitate toward us. I think the song names kind of took care of that for us. Whether or not we knew we were doing that, we kind of just did it, because we thought it was funny and we didn’t really know we were putting a record out and fully doing it. Even our band name is in the same sort of category. We’re just rolling with it. We’re not taking it all too serious, but at the end of the day I think it puts out that vibe that we’re just having a good time. If you’re into that, then hopefully you’re into us. If not I’m sure there is something else out there for you.
Is there any advice you have for any musicians who are just starting out?
R: This is probably a really cliché answer, but literally just have fun. I think at the end of the day if you are trying too hard to make it in this industry it’s pretty noticeable, and it’s not easy to make it in the music industry. Artists don’t get paid like they used to. Everyone is basically working for free. When you do get paid it’s just –It’s just not like what it used to be. So, I think the core of making music has to be just having fun. Once people noticing you having fun and having a good time, and you know, not trying too hard you’ll end up going a lot further. If you set your goal on being some massive music star...well, it’s tough.
P: I think where Ross is going with that too is have your goals. If you want to put out a record then put out a record. If you want to perform a lot of live shows and that’s what you enjoy, then work really hard at performing live shows. One of our recent goals was to do vinyl, so, we’re putting out our vinyl right now. That will be next month. As musicians and music lovers we feel it would be really cool to have a piece of vinyl. That was a goal and we worked towards it. Every decision along the way was based off the idea that if we want to release vinyl and have this really cool format then everything has to make sense. That really determined where we recorded the album. We recorded it in LA with all analog tapes so it could really sound the way we wanted it to sound on the final vinyl. Just having that end goal, and that we knew what we wanted to do. Then when you do it, you can’t be disappointed. So, set those realistic goals.
R: It’s a lot less stressful doing things that way too.
What Kind of music did you listen to while growing up?
R: Well, that’s interesting. I guess when I was young I listened to whatever my dad listened to. So my first records were Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Which I honestly think was amazing now, when looking back. What I grew up on was great, but when we got to our teen years –I know Pare and I listened to a lot of the same music. A lot of skate punk bands from the mid-nineties and early 2000`s. Some of my biggest examples are actually playing this music festival; like Strung Out, who were great. They’re from Canada as well. Bands like Pennywise who we got to see a couple of weeks ago. They`ve been around for 26 years now.
How did you decide on the name of the band?
R: Quite honestly, it all just came out one day when I was hanging out with a good friend of mine and she has this nasty bruise on her leg, and I don’t know why but I started calling her Bruise Willis. Like just a play on words and years later when we were all hanging around, being idiots it just kind of came up again. I don’t know where, I don’t know how the name just came up and stuck with us.
P: I think we sort of adopted it, changed it into Brews Willis. As in beers, it also made it a little easier to have a beer in our hand at all times rather than a bruise on our face.
Interview by: Andrea Holz
Edited by: Jesse Kline
After six years one of Toronto’s most beloved bands Inlet Sound has decided to call it quits once and for all. They’re known for their album The Romantics, and such hits as: Blizzard Baby, Young Hearts, and Mademoiselle. They will be missed. On a bitersweet note Inlet Sound has granted us all two new songs July and Storm Chaser as a parting gift. They will be released on April 21, 2015. Lead singer Michael Wexler kindly agreed to a telephone interview.
How many bands have you been in?
“It was the first real Band for any of us. I jammed with a few friends back in University, but that’s about it.”
What is your creative space? / Is writing a solo process?
“There has been all different styles of writing. Sean and I were living together, so we basically wrote all the choruses on The Romantics. Now that we’re breaking up. I am exploring more of how I write. I’m a very emotional writer. The band always knew I was very emotive person. Which probably isn’t the most productive way of writing. I know a lot of musicians who can just find a chord and go from there. That’s happened to me a few times, but it usually just comes from a feeling.”
Do you prefer the stage or the studio?
“I can’t really answer that. They are just so different. Studio is like building a puzzle. I`m not an engineer, so it`s really exciting to see how the music is put together. Being on stage and getting to perform in front of people who care, who you may or may not know, is just such a rush.
What Music did you grow up on?
‘I mostly grew up on Folk or Folk Revival. We all conveyed different musical backgrounds. Sean was raised learning classical piano and Steve was Canadian Country Fiddle.”
Would you say music a way of life, or just a hobby?
“It`s a way of life. Once upon a time I didn`t really believe this to be true, but now I realize –if I go too long without writing or performing music I`m going insane. It`s definitely a way of life.”
What are your current goals as an artist?
“Right now, it`s to gain the confidence to stand behind some solo stuff. It`s nerve racking Finding your own voice is a lot of experimentation. The best artists change, evolve, and have confidence.”
What do you think defines success in the Music Industry?
“Success is totally based on what you want. Success these day does not come in in the form of a steady income. Just getting your music spread. Like for us, when we were in the CBC Searchlight competitions –We were getting all these comments from people we didn't know and it was just amazing. Also having people come up to us after shows just telling us how they love our album and what we do. It just makes it all worth it.”
Tell me a little about your new songs July and Storm Chaser.
“It`s kind of a farewell parting gift. They are kind of 50/50. Both Happy and Sad. July is more lingering, bruiting even. Where Storm chaser is more of a continuation of the Romantics. We released them as a thank you. We didn’t want to leave it just as we’re done. We felt that we owed everyone something. It was a long time coming. We started working on them when Sean visited me in Berlin last year. These songs really represent who we are. Sometimes things weren’t all butterflies and candy canes.”
What was your favourite song to sing?
“Romantics 1. It was what we’d open with. It was always a rush. Really high highs… It’s too bad we won’t get to sing July.“
Is there any plans of going solo?
“Nothing concrete yet and the rest of the band is in school. A lot has happened in the last year so I have a lot to write about. I plan to. I am doing a solo set here in Montreal. Super informal. Just getting back into gigging.”
What made you decide to break up?
“Life. We’re in a position that between Steve, Sean and myself we are 7 hours apart by car. I’m having a homecoming syndrome. Moved away at 18 and really want to be present in Montreal. “
Although they will not be around for much longer, you can still listen to their excellent recorded music, including two new songs in just a few days.
Review By: Andrea Holz
Edited By: Gideon Greenbaum-Shinder
- Toronto Music Reviews