PROCON CD release with DJ Barbi and the Ghetto Raiders at the Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen West), Monday (August 25). www.proconmusic.com Rating: NNNNN
In case you haven't noticed, techno and rock are crossing over again. On one side, you've got DJs creaming their jeans over guitars; on the other, indie rockers ditching guitars for synths and computers. Local duo Procon fall into the latter category. Axe wielders Babs Vermeulen (Rocket Tits) and Tim Kowalski (Squirrel) were left cold by house music while doing time in the indie rock scene. But they succumbed to the temptation of the electro-pop beast after their last collaboration, the Helens, broke up.
"It was always there, and it was always something that we loved and wanted to incorporate," explains Vermeulen over drinks before a shift DJing at the Bovine.
"In the end, that was probably what destroyed the Helens: some of us wanted to be a rock band, but some of us didn't.
"When we decided we weren't going to do the Helens album, we scrapped most of that material, and the other stuff Tim and I had been writing on the side became Procon."
The success of folks like Peaches and Gonzalez, other Toronto indie fixtures who gave in to their electro impulses, made the prospect of pulling off a techno switcheroo more plausible. But Vermeulen and Kowalski didn't start taking their project seriously till they were sparked by early support from local electro crew the Electric Workers.
While they've mercifully figured out how to translate their tunes live without the ubiquitous laptops, Procon put their computers to use combing the Internet for synths to complete their collection.
"Buying synths on eBay is like a crack habit," Vermeulen laughs. "Last year we saw an ad for Giorgio Moroder's DX7, which isn't a particularly impressive synth, but for us that's like owning Jimi Hendrix's guitar. And the story checked out! A guy who used to work with Moroder was clearing out all his old gear. So now we have it along with a bunch of cartridges of Giorgio's old sounds."
The Moroder influence is evident in Procon's sound, as is the new new wave of Fischerspooner and Adult, but there's also a healthy amount of punk rock attitude and even a hint of "white girl rap." While on paper that sounds identical to a lot of so-so electro stuff, their very strong pop sensibilities and clear, catchy hooks set Procon apart.
Even though the songs have only been available online, they still managed to snag the attention of producer David Norland. Norland, known for his work with Madonna, volunteered his services as an ace remixer. Vermeulen says she welcomes the unexpected interest... as long as Procon's beats don't sneak up in some commercial pop without their knowledge.