Interview : Styrofoam Ones

9 Mar

Already branded as one of the definitive bands of 2010, Toronto’s Styrofoam Ones have pushed musical boundaries with their original blend of synth-pop meets DIY punk, earning near-perfect reviews from critical authorities and audiences blown away by their passion, urgency and genuine enthusiasm.  Following the release of their self-titled debut EP in October, the band gained further attention after a memorable release party and a nationally televised appearance on MTV LIVE.  This week, the group will be playing EYE Weekly’s CMW opening showcase at the Roosevelt Room, and in celebration of their highly anticipated appearance, Dirtbag Journalism caught up with founding members Alexander The and Josh McGuirk to discuss everything from genre classification to the struggles faced by Toronto musicians.

DJ: Do you consider the combination of synth-meets-punk to be an updated version of punk rock or do you think the days of genre categorization are coming to a close?

Alexander The: The reasons why punk rock pushed a movement was because people were tired of being numb to this world and “guidelines”.  Maybe our music brings similarities of punk rock, but more importantly, the music that we’re creating right now is pushing hope. I’m not looking for the same response, but I’m blessed to see people react and provoke the same way on the dance floor.

Josh McGuirk: I think the old days of people defining themselves by the genre of music they listen to are gone.  The reality is that people listen to all types of music, and we are more open to far-ranging sounds. Artists are spilling their passions while the music industry tries to figure itself out.

DJ: Why do you think we continue to look to the past for current inspiration?


AT: We’re a heavily informative world that has allowed us all to dig through the past with ease thanks to the tool called the Internet.  We already know the future is fucked . We really need to learn what is happening right now at this very moment and act upon it.

JM: Everything is available to us.  It’s a really odd time that way, the possibilities are endless, which is amazing, but it can also be overwhelming.  Artists will always dig up the past, twist it and repurpose it.  It’s an ongoing dialogue and that’s the beauty of music and art in general.

DJ: Your EP has received glowing reviews, resulting in national television appearances and widespread buzz.  Has such reception inspired you to continue pushing boundaries in regards to your next release?

AT: Definitely.  I think people get what we are about.  Having a larger audience and feedback has allowed us to react and continue to support our fan base that wants to know what we are up to.

JM: Our EP was an accurate reflection of where we were at that time, and that’s what we wanted it to be. We may be slotted in with a musical style or scene, but I see what we do as a progression, and our new works are shaping up to be a more diverse affair.  It will always change and that’s the exciting part about it.

DJ: With so many diverse acts coming out of the city, do you think we’re witnessing the re-birth of the “Toronto scene” or is such categorization a myth?

AT: I wouldn’t say there is a re-birth of the “Toronto scene”.  I think it’s been there consistently, it’s just more and more people are becoming conscious of their own true powers, thus other artists now are going for it and risking their systematic reputation.  I only hope we can constantly push our weight forward to wake more people up – especially the top.

JM: It’s been blasting for years, and spitting out quality work, with or without recognition or support from “the industry”.  I think what you’re witnessing right now are new Toronto artists reaching up.  It’s been bubbling in this city for quite some time, and I think that people will look back at these times as a defining moment for music in this city.  It’s real artists doing it with real emotion and you can’t manufacture that.

DJ: Do you find that being aligned with a city can pigeon-hole you in regards to the type of music you’re expected to produce?

AT: Nope.  It’s what you bring with it.  We’re a screwface city, let’s be real here.  Bring the force and push the hustle and make sure it’s real.  The music is always good here, just gotta follow through with the whole pitch.

JM: It’s so diverse that I don’t think you can really put your finger on what’s really going on here genre-wise.  It’s all going well. These crowds don’t always overlap, but people these days have pretty wide-ranging tastes, and the diverse makeup of the city helps to keep people open to new and interesting things.

DJ: What sets Toronto apart from the rest of North America?

AT: It’s the fact that we’re our own toughest critics.  It’s because we didn’t know where we used to fit. Now I feel we are all like, “fuck it – this is our city”, so when we play in different cities, we can be known for playing our hearts out because that’s how you have to play in Toronto to hopefully break a smile on the dance floor.  We’re only being recognized now because we’re realizing how to run our own shit, no industry included.

JM: No matter where I go in the word, it’s always nice to come back.  I’m not saying I’ll always be here, but it’s home. I do think that people here are starting to get past the modesty of being from Toronto, though – or being Canadian. I just wish we had more leaders with true vision.  Certainly not Harper – he’s too busy tap dancing so not to get ousted.

Posted by : Anne T Donahue

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