Cam Findlay is the mastermind behind Toronto-based analog-synth band, Kontravoid. Hailing from such other bands as Parallels and playing drums for Crystal Castles/Trust, he has taken a different solo approach with Kontravoid; crafting dark dungeon dance music for the past couple of years.
How did Kontravoid come about after leaving Parallels? It’s definitely a lot darker sounding.
Kontravoid originated when two songs I originally wrote for Parallels, “Native State” and “Age of Descent” weren’t really going in the direction I wanted. I didn’t feel like things were going very well with Parallels, so I left about a year and a half ago and took some of the material I had been working on to form a new project. I enjoy writing darker music, it’s what I feel comfortable doing. Two of my solo compositions for Parallels, “Dry Blood” and “Magnetics” are more in the realm of what Kontravoid is now, as opposed to some of the more pop-oriented material.
Is seems as though you started out by playing drums for other bands. Do you miss playing drums? Have you ever thought about bringing live drums to Kontravoid and expanding the band?
I was brought into music by playing drums when I was about 9 years old, so it’s something I’ll always go back to. I do miss playing sometimes, so it’s likely I’ll be continuing to join bands here and there. I did have plans to bring a drummer into Kontravoid. It was originally conceived with the idea of becoming a live act instead of an alias for my solo material. I wanted to have a drummer, keyboardist, and I would still do what I’m doing now which is singing, playing keyboards, triggering samples.. etc. However, I like doing it on my own; things are easier and much more manageable. So it will probably stay this way for a while.
From my internet snooping I learned you used to play in some “shitty punk bands”. Did you grow up listening to punk music?
Haha.. ya, I meant that as a good thing. There was a good punk scene in Toronto about ten years ago. I was 16 or 17, and it was awesome being able to get into shows under-age and drink in bars without anyone really caring, and there were a lot of shows each week. It was a gateway to a lot of other great music I got into over the next couple of years. Things were a lot more relaxed in Toronto back then from what I remember. And ya, I grew up listening to punk and skateboarding; (I) found out about a lot of great music from skate videos, too
How has this influenced the music you currently make/are a part of?
I try to keep things pretty simple when writing. It’s easy to get tied up in the technical aspects of electronic music, which I feel can make things pretty stale. Generally speaking, people who write music are looking to trigger some kind of emotion within their audience, and they want to make the listener feel as if they’re connected to the artist in some sense. No application or $10,000 synth is gonna do this. So I think it’s important to distance yourself from technology, sit down at a keyboard, or pick up a guitar, or whatever, and focus on writing that way first before bringing it into the computer. I feel like a lot of bands I grew up listening to had a very raw approach to writing, so I try and do the same.
Do you ever see yourself leaving Toronto? It seems as though most musicians eventually do a stint in New York or LA.
Ya, maybe some day… I like Toronto, though. I grew up here, and I feel like I’ve got the last awesome studio/apartment in the city that isn’t an overly expensive condo yet. I want to experience living somewhere else though.. so It’s likely.
Favorite song(s) to play live?
Whichever one is the newest…
Five biggest influences on Kontravoid (needn’t be bands)?
WW2 documentaries/stories. Travelling/touring and playing shows. Chess. Working for someone or on something that’s non-music related (You value your creative time more and usually end up writing something good). Talking with people who have interesting perspectives on the future.
Best (past or present) band nobody talks about but should?
Ell V Gore from Toronto. They don’t have anything out there yet, but have been an awesome Toronto band for the past little while. Elliott [Jones, of Pretty Pretty Records] just figured out you can record music with computers now so you should be hearing something from them real soon.
Describe your worst or best show in five words.
I enjoy all of them
Make Kontravoid into an anagram of your choosing.
VODKA INTRO or RATKONDO – AI
INTERVIEW BY MAR BAR