With the release of their new single and video for “Our Faces” (https://tinyurl.com/y5l6b3td) on Friday, November 20, 2020, Toronto-based garage rock/synth-pop quartet Neon Bloom, who have already staked their claim as one of the most innovative and energetic live bands on the Toronto scene, are releasing Still Life, a 4 song EP that was conceived, written, and recorded during the initial COVID19 Quarantine period. The band members began by sending clips of riffs and ideas back and forth to each other and building from there. Through phone calls, video chats, and recordings, the band pieced together the structure and music for each song. Everyone then recorded their individual parts in their own homes and sent the files off to guitarist/keyboardist Simon Chow for mixing. Says Chow, “In the past all of our songs and recordings were based off our live show and what we could play and perform live. For the first time we wrote all of these songs remotely inside of Ableton and it opened up a lot of new sounds and textures that we couldn’t really use before. There’s so many new options available, but also the loss of intuitive, in the moment, collective writing, and all the happy accidents that brings. It was a challenge adapting to this new type of creative process, but definitely something we’ll do again.”
Mental Health & COVID19
‘Our Faces’, the lead single off their new EP, is meant as a positive, anthemic shout out to those who have been suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health-related issues during social isolation (or at any time, really). Singer Jen Simpson recounts:
“During the initial quarantine phase of COVID, I started getting messages on social media from people that I rarely speak to, some even complete strangers. Many of the messages were about these individual’s struggles with mental health during an unprecedented time of sudden social isolation. I think, in that way, we have been very lucky to have access to social media and each other. It’s allowed people to reach out to others when they need to. It can be surprising, the relationships that can evolve from a few brief chats on Instagram or Facebook. We’re now able to see how social isolation and other pandemic related stressors have had negative effects on individuals and I’m afraid that trend may continue, or possibly worsen, going into the winter. So, lyrically, the inspiration for this song came from these interactions and a recognition of the emotional difficulties people are facing. The song is meant to sound upbeat and fun, but also deliver a hopeful message, encouraging people to not give up. Given the apocalyptic feelings of late, I basically wanted to be a cheerleader…with edge.”
“The video for “Our Faces” was shot by director Jerry Wolf (https://www.cinethetica.com/), who worked along with a group of teenage actors to bring his vision for the video to light. Says Wolf:
“Our Faces depicts the lives of five teenagers getting together to celebrate Guy Fawkes night, when one of them is gunned down by a cop on her own live stream. [The video was] designed to reaffirm the anxiety that maybe our police are not always out to protect us and the struggle continues. I wanted the final frame – staring down the barrel of a police officer’s handgun, the instant of the viewer’s death – to haunt them. It’s a murdered-by-cop virtual reality simulator to spare you the trouble of getting killed for real. Defund the police.”
On writing the EP, drummer Chris Romano comments:
“Its been a unique experience writing this album. Especially on drums, doing a combination of live drums recorded on our own, layered with electric drums and samples overtop. It was difficult to craft the right sound at first. Especially since we do so much live, we had to get around this new sound and accept it. In the end we really like the product and how everything fit together well.”
The music for ‘Our Faces’ happened very organically. Yurichuk adds,
“We set out with a blank slate but had decided we should write a more rocking tune. Simon was cycling through some drum loops, and he played one that reminded me of an 80’s pop-rocker. I told him to stop, and I wrote the bass line on the spot.”
The song ‘A Bullet in Tomorrow’ is currently featured in a commercial for Toronto-based, ethical clothing company, Wuxly (https://wuxly.com/). This song is also related to the current pandemic and questions the global state of the world, specifically focusing on the topic of mass overconsumption and its consequences. The song is meant to encourage listeners to question their role as responsible consumers and co-habitants of this planet and to consider what sort of future they’re willing to work toward. On a lighter note, ‘Tangerine’ is a dreamy, poppy love song that features lush instrumentation, with Devin Hoare performing on trumpet. ‘Novocaine’ is a first foray into hip-hop for Neon Bloom, and features scratching by DJ and beatmaker Mark Cruz.
All in all, Neon Bloom’s Still Life is an experimental EP set amidst the backdrop of these unusual times. Ultimately, the band hopes that listeners will enjoy the combination of musical arrangements, styles, and messages. We have a continuing challenge ahead of us, but perhaps we can work together towards a new and better “normal”. We’re all in this together.
Neon Bloom would like to provide some links for those who may be interested in accessing mental health resources:
Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 833-456-4566
Mental Health supports within the province of Ontario:
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) offers a helpful page for those wishing to access Covid-19 related mental health resources: