Thin man

Slim Twig insists that it’s only rock and roll

SLIM TWIG at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (May 29). $10. 416-598-4753.

When NOW named Slim Twig the best pop/rock artist in 2008’s Best Of Toronto issue, it was intended to be a bit cheeky, since his heavily deconstructed rock ‘n’ roll has little in common with what’s generally regarded as pop.


But, as Twig explains over pints on the Imperial Pub patio, he’s more surprised that music critics have called his recent debut album, Contempt! (Paper Bag), “experimental” and “avant-garde.”

“To be honest, I think of it as an adventurous pop album. People are focussing on the weirdness too much.

“They bring up the cinematic aspect a lot, and that’s pretty apt. The difference between making movies and writing songs is that songs generally comment on a world that already exists, whereas movies create their own world. That’s what I’m interested in doing.”

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The articulate, soft-spoken 21-year-old has ridden a wave of underground hype over the past few years, but now he’s getting positive reviews in the mainstream press, too. Not bad for someone who freely admits he’s not much of a musician.

“I’ll get flak for saying this, but I’d rather be thought of as a conceptual artist. I’m really tired of this assumption that anyone who claims to be an artist is pretentious. It’s just as valid a job in our society as any other. I don’t see a difference between being a plumber and being an artist. Yes, they’re different skill sets, but they’re still just jobs.”

Twig has no desire to work within pop’s tradition of autobiographical songwriting. And frankly, we’re relieved to hear that his gory tales of violence and evil are fictional.

“I’m interested in the idea of men getting away with truly evil things – not just avoiding getting caught, but feeling like it’s okay. That idea has terrified me since I started making music, and I get a perverse thrill from writing from that perspective.

“People have a hard time getting over that leap, as if it’s not sincere or genuine to talk about an experience you haven’t had. That’s so fucking boring. That’s why the majority of pop songs are about some guy’s girlfriend. I have no interest in that.”

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