TRUST with BLANK CAPSULE, ELL V GORE and OFF-WHITE DJS SCHRAMM & ADRIENNE at Wrongbar (1279 Queen West), Saturday (March 3), doors 10 pm. $10.50. RT, SS, TW. See listing.
In concert, Trust are more easily heard than seen. The local dance duo's shows typically feature a dramatic obscuring effect like smoke clouds, strobe lights or - as was the case when they opened for John Maus at the Drake Underground - a ridiculously bright rainbow-light display.
Behind the dry ice, however, you'll find two highly focused individuals.
A native of Winnipeg, 23-year-old Robert Alfons is a self-taught musician with an affinity for goth culture, Kate Bush and Ke$ha. Asked the key to a good pop song, he says, "There's no such thing as a guilty pleasure. I can appreciate a lot of music, so I think that's the key. Nothing is out of the question."
In late 2009 he met drummer Maya Postepski, 25, a classically trained percussionist best known as the drummer for synth-pop group Austra. They clicked immediately.
The first song they wrote was the meandering ballad Candy Walls, released as a single on Brooklyn imprint Sacred Bones last spring. Around the same time, they spent several weeks working on TRST (Arts & Crafts), a debut album that filters their love of escapist pop through aggressively dark, sensual acid-trance beats.
"We bring different strengths to the table," says Postepski. "Robert is really good at pop structures, and I'm really good at weird beats and riffs."
Last summer they signed to local indie Arts & Crafts and then travelled to Montreal to work with mixer and frequent Björk collaborator Damian Taylor, who beefed up the overall sound.
"He gave our songs a big booty," Alfons says.
While Trust's sonic booty is hard to miss, their lyrics are less direct. Alfons prefers to leave their interpretation up to the listener. But when pressed for the story behind Gloryhole, a song named for the hole drilled in toilet partitions for peepshows and other sexual antics, he does reveal a little.
"It's a song about my fear of sex," he says matter-of-factly, adding that bits of personal experience are sprinkled throughout TRST. "By calling the song Gloryhole, I don't think I'm putting myself out there. It's coded. [The personal experience] is there, but sometimes it's louder than at other times."
After Saturday's album launch, the duo hit the road in the U.S. and UK. Postepski will perform some dates but has to balance them with her Austra commitments, including work on a new album. "It's been an organizational feat," she says. "I'm making it work."
Meanwhile, work has begun on Trust's own next album. Alfons and Postepski describe their future sounds and shows as "bigger," "louder," "scarier" and "more epic." As well, Alfons's pre-pubescent falsetto, which he held back on TRST in favour of his baritone, is coming to the foreground.
"I shied away from singing higher on this record, but that'll come," he explains. "It was like ‘she' needed to stay in the background."