Dirty Frigs: The Camp Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Creepy, droning garage rock, layered with fuzz and topped with bright, catchy vocals.
File Next To: Ty Segall, Crosss, Link Wray, Mexican Slang, Scratch Acid, early Wavves, King Tuff.
Playing: Camp Wavelength, Friday August 28 @ Artscape Gibraltar Point
Get your ticket here!

It’s hard to describe the sound of Dirty Frigs, a Toronto band made up of Bria Salmena (vocals and guitar), Duncan Hay Jennings (guitar), Lucas Savatti (bass) and Edan Scime Stokell (drums), but the group probably prefers it that way. To haphazard a guess on their sound, I would put it somewhere between the swampy garage pop of King Tuff, the chaotic fuzz of Scratch Acid and the slow droning heaviness of the Melvins. These droning, swampy garage rockers have gained notoriety for their weird and creepy but unique sound. They’ll be playing the opening night of Camp Wavelength on Toronto Island, August 28th at 7pm.

You’ve been posting about some new material coming out — is that another EP? Are there any new musical directions you decided to take on the release?

We have been recording new material since February and are still going. At this point we are unsure about the final result, whether it be an EP or full-length. We’re just trying to record as much as possible. It’s been much more of a gradual creative process in the studio this time around, taking our time demoing and writing as we record. The stuff that we’re working on is pretty different, though more of an evolution of our sound than a new direction. The sounds are different; the vibes are very different. We’re thinking people might be a little surprised.

You’ve cited Link Wray and ’50s rock as a large influence on your sound. Are there any other bands that have a major influence on you?

I think very early on that was a major influence on us and our music. We all listen to a wide array of music, so we’re all taking influences from different places. We’re really into Janet Jackson and Todd Rundgren right now.

How does your group typically come up with new songs? Do people come in with ideas that you all work on, or does everything form on the spur of the moment during a jam?

For the past while, we have been writing together during rehearsals. Previously, songs would come from an idea someone brought in, or Bria had a tune to work on. Now, for the most part, they usually stem from a riff someone will play, or a rhythm Mr. Ethan plays on “the skins.” We record the jam and then try and come back to it. It’s working out so far.

Your last EP was recorded in a haunted church. Why did you want to record it there? Do you think you’ll find some other eclectic places to record? (There are some haunted lighthouses up on the Bruce Peninsula that I know of!)

For the last EP we worked with Ian Gomes (who just opened Union Sound), who has recorded so many rad bands. HSY recorded their EP in the same church and were like, “Yo, you gotta go there and record.” So we did. We stayed there for five days with Ian, who brought his portable recording rig, and just vibed out with ghosts and recorded those songs. Why wouldn’t we want to record in a haunted church? But this time around, we wanted to try something a little different: Duncan and Lucas live in a very spacious apartment up in Corso Italia, and we have created our own studio up there. It’s pretty eclectic too.

How do you go about recording in an apartment without completely pissing off your neighbors?

Haha, well… the back of the apartment is detached on either side, and it’s above an optician’s store right on St. Clair. Once he closes, we’re good to go. There are bars below on either side, so really, sound doesn’t seem to be an issue. We’ve played ‘til four in the morning, and there hasn’t been a complaint yet…

So, you (Bria and Duncan) have been jamming together for a while. How do you think this helped your dynamic as a group? Did you both listen to the same bands and such? Was it easy to get Lucas and Edan on your wavelength?

Bria and Duncan met in university in Montreal — others were schoolmates before that. Essentially, all of us went to school with one other person at one point or another. So we have all known each other for a pretty long time, which in turn creates a very interesting dynamic. We are all very close, so we fight a lot, but it keeps it interesting and family-oriented. We see each other five days a week for recording and rehearsing.

How has working with the Heretical Objects Collective influenced your group? Has it given you more room to experiment?

Working with HOC has been rad. Everyone in the co-operative is extremely supportive. When we were getting ready to release the last EP we worked with all HOC artists: Laura Lynn Petrick and Jenny Warne (Mutual Friend) for the “Osiris” video and then Ghostprom (and Mutual Friend again) for the “Swampy” vid. For our release show, everyone came together and helped us with promotion: Jesse Wick did some posters, Jac Blumas and Allie Blumas created an installation at the venue, and Trevor Blumas has been a huge help to us in every way. If anything, working with HOC has provided us with a network of talented people who make it possible to do whatever you want with our art.

Your group has been labelled as this creepy-sounding band (not surprising given the sounds on your EP!). Do you ever feel limited by this designation?

We are a bunch of weirdos, and I think that comes across more in our live performance. Creepy can be cool, but that vibe doesn’t come across as much on the new material. People will have to come up with something else to label us with.

What sort of vibe can your fans expect with this new material?

Definitely more mellow in the writing and production — but that’s all we gonna say for now.

So, Bria, compared to the 1970s and even the 1990s, the current global hard rock scene has far more women involved (Mexican Slang, the Beverleys, Wolf Alice, etc.). Do you have any thoughts or comments on what’s changed, and your experiences with this?

True. But I also think women were always “involved.” There were always female musicians, extremely talented females trying to work in music, or they were but “behind the scenes.” And it essentially took this long for anyone to give a shit — that’s what has changed. It’s kind of funny, ’cause people think it’s new, like, where’d all these ladies come from? But they have always been there. I think it’s a pretty exciting time to be a female musician/performer, not just in Toronto or the “hard rock scene,” which I don’t even know if I can completely say I am a part of. Women are about to run shit and destroy the music industry in all genres.

Any shout-outs for any particular bands in the Toronto (or Canadian scene)?

ALL OF ’EM! Our friends in Doomsquad are killing it right now — we are really excited for them. Canadian musicians are the coolest. So much good music coming out of Toronto right now, especially in the “alternative rock” scene and the hip-hop scene.

Anyone you’re particularly excited to play with at Camp Wavelength?

We are pretty stoked in general to be able to open for Doldrums and Holy Fuck. Praise be.

– Interview by Kristian Johnson

Dirty Frigs play Camp Wavelength Friday, August 28 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your single day tickets here! Or better yet, join us for the whole weekend and get a Festival Pass!