LAL with MIA SKYE, SAYE SKY, MATTHEW MASKAANT, R3 COLLECTIVE and more at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), Friday (May 18). $10. 416-519-9439. See listing.
After 14 years of dodging categorization, shape-shifting Toronto electronic-global-soul band Lal are feeling more comfortable than ever in their lonely one-band genre.
With each album, they've had to explain how they're not really a trip-hop band, nor are they T.O. representatives of the South Asian electronic underground or whatever other fashion of the month they have something in common with. They're still as eclectic and experimental as ever, but that's no longer an anomaly in popular music.
"I still think we're a difficult pitch; I'm always the one pitching us, not these two," jokes singer Rosina Kazi, motioning to her two bandmates sitting across the table.
"You could just call us electronic music if you wanted to," interrupts beatsmith Nicholas Murray. "Or you could say ‘pop music.' These guys [his bandmates] are trying to fight pop music, but I'm cool with it."
"We get asked to play hip-hop festivals, folk festivals, jazz festivals, techno festivals - you name it," Kazi continues. "That confuses people, but I love that we can go into any territory and change up our sound."
Kazi and Murray contradict each other and bicker playfully like an old married couple, probably because they're life partners as well as musical ones. That means bassist Ian de Souza is often left to find the common ground between their viewpoints. It's an odd dynamic, but over the years they've gelled into something closer to an actual band than the amorphous collective they used to be.
"In the past we tended to have a lot of friends playing on the records," de Souza says.
That's an understatement, considering that their last album, Deportation, featured 20 guest musicians. Scaling back to just the three of them also sheds light on why their new album is self-titled despite being their fourth.
"I feel like we're finally ready, 14 years later," Kazi says. "When we started, we just threw ourselves out there and didn't know what the hell we were doing. Now, especially as a live act, it feels comfortable. I never expected to have a career for this long, or even a career in music in the first place."