CHVRCHES with Diana as part of Canadian Music Fest at Virgin Mobile Mod Club (722 College), Wednesday (March 20). $13.50 or limited wristbands. cmw.net.
Scottish synth pop upstarts Chvrches swear their "mysterious" image wasn't a calculated move. Nevertheless, they're not too upset about how it's working out for them.
"We didn't want to put out a press release initially because, for one thing, we hadn't done anything yet," explains synth player Martin Doherty from Glasgow. "We also didn't want people to immediately start drawing lines between this band and our previous ones.
"Then people started saying the word ‘mysterious' all the time, and we kind of liked that, so we thought we'd try to hang onto it for as long as possible."
Doherty was formerly best known as a touring keyboardist for gloomy post-punks the Twilight Sad; his bandmate Iain Cook played with alt-rock bands the Unwinding Hours and Aereogramme; and lead singer Lauren Mayberry played in indie folk act Blue Sky Archives.
None of those projects has much in common with the catchy, danceable keyboard pop that's garnered Chvrches such a flurry of attention since they dropped their debut single, Lies, last September.
"In a way, [Chvrches] is a reaction to the kinds of bands we were in before," says Doherty. "There was a desire to do something a bit out of our comfort zones. Even though I'd been stuck in indie rock or shoegazer, I'd always listened to a lot of pop."
Maybe it's because of their backgrounds in guitar-based bands that they've put so much thought into devising ways to play electronic pop onstage so it feels live. While they do rely on loops for the rhythm section, they bring their analog synths on the road and play the majority of the keyboard bits by hand.
"That's something we've put a lot of time and effort into. Too many bands just karaoke it when they play live. Everyone has seen the guy running [performance software] Ableton on a laptop who looks like he's doing a lot but is really just pressing play and messing around with a couple of faders and filters.
"We want to be the opposite of that, as much as the technology will allow."