Twist: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: Melodic, heartfelt indie rock with a bold & adventurous spirit

File next to: Alvvays, Best Coast

Playing: Wavelength Winter Festival, Saturday February 16, 2019 @ The Garrison. Get your tickets here!

Laura Hermiston’s songwriting prowess knows no bounds. Her band Twist’s knack for writing melodic and memorable guitar pop is otherworldly, and there’s no doubt that greater heights are just on the horizon for the group. Distancing, their second LP for Buzz Records, incorporates the sounds of new wave, indie pop and even a hint of post-punk, all the while retaining the hallmarks of their songwriting that has earned them critical praise since their inception. Wavelength’s Jarrad Robinson caught up with Laura to discuss the band’s progression and the Toronto music scene.

I understand your debut album Spectral was assembled over a period of a few years. Was the process for Distancing any different knowing that you were trying specifically to write a whole record?

Yes you are correct, the process was different. I was more conscious about songs that complemented each other. I threw quite a few songs away.

Distancing is much more varied than your debut, but still manages to sound like a complete work. What made you want to venture out into so many different styles?

Contrary to my last response, I don’t worry too much about the cohesiveness of songs as I am writing. I would argue putting limits on writing so early on can lead to redundancy. Or worse, writer’s block. I work well when I demo without an end goal, such as writing a “banger” for radio, or a “chill song” to get on a Spotify playlist, or a song that sounds like bands “x” or “y”. I never want make music that sounds like I am just lifting ideas from other people. I love hearing a band that doesn’t sound like a revival band or one that borrows heavily from a current trend. Maybe that is why I end up having songs that all have a bit of a different vibe from each other.

“Waves” is probably the most adventurous song you have written to date. How did that one come about?

I recorded the demo four years ago. I was listening to a lot of ESG and Madchester bands at the time, which I think peeks through a bit in “Waves”. I played around with drum loops and found one I really liked. I ran some synths through my guitar pedals. I started singing over top of it all. It stayed on my hard drive for a while before deciding it could be a Twist song. It came together quite easily. It’s a fun song to play live – we change it up a bit every show.

How has your relationship with producer Brian Borcherdt grown since you first starting working together a few years back?

Roles have become clearer. We have a good system on how we work together now. I am thankful to have the support and someone who I can run ideas by. 

Both the new record and your recent EP Benefits have expanded not only the scope of your sound, but your lyrics too. What has driven you to be more diverse in that area?

I just try not to write the same song twice. 

Can you see Twist becoming more of a group project in the future now that you have a full band behind you? Or do you still see it primarily as a solo venture?

Good question. I have no idea. I would start a band that I didn’t lead; where everything is split equally. Right now each song calls for a different arrangement. Usually it’s with Matt, Pat, and our current drummer Kurt. They each have their own projects that all kind of function the same way Twist does. 

Are there any artists in Toronto that you think deserve more attention than they currently receive?

Yes. Rapport, Rogue Tenant, No Frills, Beds. I think in general there could be a stronger support system in Canada in the media, on TV, and on the radio. The government has a solid grant system for artists to create music. But getting the music to music consumers could improve. This isn’t to say that there are no champions in the industry supporting underrated artists. I believe it would benefit Canadian culture if we embraced and got excited about new bands a bit more… without it being backed by an indie major label or an artist breaking out in the US first. 

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a musician?

I have no clue. Everything? All I know is that I would have way too much time on my hands if I wasn’t a musician.