Twist: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors: Dusty, drum-machine-y music. Think Lana Del Rey with more heart and less collagen.
File next to: Young Marble Giants, Juliana Hatfield, the Eric’s Trip tunes that Julie sang
Playing the Wavelength showcase at NXNE June 19 @ the Great Hall

On their official website, Twist describes themselves as “Laura Hermiston of the BB Guns flees to the desert and returns on a western- sunburnt electro mission with producer Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck“. Yeah, pretty much! Twist’s music is basic in all the right ways and a bit moody in all the best ways. Laura’s vocals are restrained and sultry. Brian “brings it” with some awesome retro keyboard action. They mix things up and they do it well.

In advance of our upcoming NXNE showcase (catch Twist at 10:00pm!!) and some gigs in Quebec and the Maritimes, we tracked down Laura to ask about her songwriting, her song listening and why disco music is no longer undervalued.

A really basic question to start: how did the band first come together? What were the initial seeds of what became Twist?

I wanted to write a song like “No Big Deal” by Love and Rockets. I went to Brian’s house and showed him a few song ideas. He got excited and we started playing around.

Wow, Love and Rockets reference! You a fan? What is it about “No Big Deal” that made you want to replicate it?

I own their self-titled album and “No Big Deal” is one of my favorite songs. I wanted to replicate that industrial drumming that drives the song, so we tried, with the help of Justin Peroff, and his drum library on a song called “Calendar Girls”.

…and then what?

Eventually, I made a Soundcloud page and somehow some blogs started writing about this intimate and stripped down song we did called Where To Lie. Fairly quickly, labels started emailing me and things went from there. I got excited and decided to go for a grant and record an EP, and now I am playing shows and waiting to release said EP.

The music definitely has a retro-ish feel. Have you always been into older music? Who were some of the initial non-contemporary artists you got into?

I’m young enough that I grew up with the Internet and would go through phases like being obsessed with New Order, the Velvet Underground or Patsy Cline. These days, discovering a great 1970s or 1980s electronic song on YouTube is such a great feeling.  I love when I find something new to DJ with. I love the drums and bass in that
era of music and like to incorporate that vibe- when it fits- as much as humanly possible. Hence, the use of 1980s-ish drum machines in Twist.

What is it about 1970s and 1980s electronic music that you enjoy? Kinda related, it is just me or does disco get a bad rap from music critical as not being “importance”? I think the Nile Rodgers/Daft Punk renaissance helped.

I like all the experimentation. Some of that music can be a little cheesy at times like with Italo Disco but that can be a really good thing. Like this one song by La Bionda called “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. It’s pretty funny but I actually am really in love with it and think it is an amazing song. I’m not so sure about disco getting a bad rap these days–maybe it used to but I don’t really find that anymore. Someone told me recently there is a Spin Magazine article called “The 30 Best Disco Songs Every Millennial Should Know” and they compare it to modern music. Disco does not suck–sorry Dad!

You’ve recently started playing non-Toronto shows. How’s that going? Are you finding audiences receptive? Best out-of-town show so far and why?

I booked a mini-tour on my own last minute, and it was a big learning curve, but also so worth the time and effort I put in to it. Le Divan Orange stands out because it was sold out. But I am most excited for our upcoming shows out East. I’ve never played shows on the coast and I feel like they are going to be the best and most receptive audiences.

East coast should indeed be awesome. Do you have any friend or musical colleagues out there? Any other plans for that trip?

Not really. Brian does though! I look forward to eating a lobster and I will definitely be packing a swimsuit.

Twist plays our upcoming Wavelength showcase at the Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West) as part of NXNE. The date is Thursday, June 19th. Their set time is 10:00pm.

Interview by Cam Gordon (Completely Ignored)