BESIDES his other bow-strings playing in Toronto power-poppers Bunny and the heart-hookin’ bubblegum fun of The Bicycles, Toronto’s Drew Smith also fashions a lovely ambient synthpop under his birth name: dreamy, fun, blissful, and very much of an effect with Montreal’s Afternoon Bike Ride. It’s sorta candyfloss brittle and ice-melt pure and futuristic and just plain lovely.
He’s taken a single from his most recent EP, Git Along, Little Doggie; and here it is, too. It’s entitled “Whose News”, and it sees Drew enter the fray with fellow Torontonian, vocalist Isla Craig, a talent with whom he’s wanted to break musical bread for some time. As well as her solo career, she’s also worked with Sub Pop psychesters Jennifer Castle, IC/JC/VC, and the Cosmic Range.
(Is it something in the water in the big Canadian cities? Musicians are so collaborative, always sharing and making and creating in all sorts of ways. This is a brilliant thing, natch.)
“I’m not even going to try to describe her music – the actual sound(s) of it,” Tim says. “That would be a fool’s errand.
“I can only speak to how it makes me feel. When I listen to it, I feel like I’m being opened up – like the music is having a conversation with a deeper part of me.”
High praise indeed, and I’ll leave you decide whether that’s deserved while suggesting of course it is; it’s future soul and leftfield electronica and winsomely melodic all at once; blissful, experimental, ambient pop it charts a course towards Air and Lamb and triphop in delight, and maybe also not so far distant from Drew’s rather lovely Tin Angel labelmate, Sing Leaf.
Drew recorded the basic synth-textured foundation and asked Isla to both write lyrics and sing, making it a proper two-hander. Isla says: “With ‘Who’s News’, that was something that is very rare for me, to be sent a track and just immediately find something that I wanted to add This is not something that happens for me very often. Songs often take me a long time, so I guess it was the right time.”
After Isla finished her contribution, the track passed on to Daniel Lee (Lee Paradiso, Hooded Fang, Phedre) who added both live and electronic drums, a little more synth. Then passed to Nathan and Chris, from Bart, to mix. They finssed it with even more percussion, bass, and more synth.
Drew says: “Usually when so many people are involved, a song can quickly become a disaster. Fortunately the song, in my biased opinion, retained an intimate feel throughout.”
The EP, Git Along, Little Doggie, is made from smooth melancholia, synths and lush orchestration – be thinking Todd Rundgren, Panda Bear even; and was created during the the quiet moments of lockdown and new fatherhood, Drew working in little oases of free time in the dead of night and nap time.
“I have no real memory of the recording process, it was a haze of dirty diaper fumes and bad-to-no sleep,” he confesses, but that “it was good to make something fast and freely, it reminded me how fun making music can be.”
Drew Smith’s “Whose News” is out now across digital streaming platforms; it’s taken from the digital EP, Git Along, Little Doggie, which you can also stream – or why not buy yourself a copy over at Bandcamp.