HEXES & OHS with DREGS OF SOCIETY, ELECTRIC DOG and CAMP COMBO at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Tuesday (January 17). Free. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
When Toronto indie label Noise Factory originally signed Edmund Lam and Heidi Donnelly, they were part of an experimental electronic band called Vertical Mosaic. However, just as they were about to start recording, the band broke up, leaving them to their own devices.
Since the offer was still there, they hunkered down in their apartment, writing and recording their debut as Hexes & Ohs, called Goodbye Friend, Welcome Lover. The result is pretty and delicate electro-pop pairing glitchy beats with guitar, bass and even some accordion.
"Our background is in rock music, so that's still how we approach songwriting," explains Lam from their Montreal home. "Usually we'll just start with an acoustic guitar and build up the electronic parts later. The songs are primarily pop. They might be electronic, but they're not sound-based like a lot of electronic. Rather, they're song-based."
Lam and Donnelly have played together in various bands for many years while also maintaining a long-term romantic relationship, so it makes sense that they'd try to perform as a duo. The electronic aspect has meant that they can comfortably replicate the songs live and tour in a small car or even take the train. Their music is somewhere in between laptop pop and indie rock, so they can play venues that might not have considered them if they were a full band.
However, as they prepare for their second album, they're starting to consider other options, including lugging around a drum kit again.
"We actually just played a show with a guest drummer and we really liked it, so we may end up doing that more often. We weren't sure how it was going to go, but he was really good, and it definitely added something.
"The first album was a little conservative. We were still unsure of ourselves, but I think the next one will be more raw, less layered and produced. It's kind of taking the easy way out when you just layer on tons of stuff -- I think we have the confidence now to keep it more stripped down now."