Technical Kidman go wild electronic

The local trio reinvents their sound with 1990s samples from a surprising source.

Technical Kidman

Technical Kidman (Photo by Janek Barb)

In an effort to reinvent their sound, Technical Kidman, one of Montreal’s most forceful and kinetic live acts, looked to the past. All the way back to the 1990’s.

But it wasn’t the music of the era that inspired them. It was the commercials. Their new three-song EP, A Stranger Voice, was built from samples of old commercial jingles, inspired by the likes of Burger King and Tim Hortons to cheapo Quebec wine Harfang des neiges. The EP’s theme is, fittingly enough, about finding authenticity through the grim artifice.

“It’s telling of the era we come from that the commercials had a greater effect on us than the shows themselves,” says frontman Mathieu Arsenault. “They’re hard-wired in my subconscious, because I’ve seen them 1,000 times before.”

A Stranger Voice, as well as their upcoming full-length, are darker than their previous efforts. Arsenault and Thomas Champagne have replaced bass and guitar for synths and samplers. It took them a year to make the full transition from rhythmic punks to electro moodscapers, but now the creative floodgates are open and their live set-up packs the same punch as when they were using their old instrumentation.

“It’s more of a visceral approach with guitar and bass — if you want to play hard, you just have to hit them hard,” Arsenault says. “With synths and samplers you have to think about it beforehand and program them with a range of intensity. It’s not easy, but it’s what we’re aiming for.”

And the name the band has given their new style?

“Wild electronics,” he says.

The band isn’t hiding the fact that A Stranger Voice was made from ads taken from old VHS tapes recorded by Champagne back in the day. So far, though, people haven’t picked up on it.

“I thought they would, but people haven’t identified them so far. I thought they were pretty straightforward, but apparently they’re not. They’re transformed, but to me I thought it was just a little bit. Even in the studio, I pushed (mixer) Jace Lasek to make them as clear as possible, because I want people to get the reference. But hearing those sounds in a different context, it eliminates the reference. Conceptually, I can live with that.” ■

Technical Kidman perform at la Vitrola (4602 St-Laurent) on Friday, July 4, 9 p.m., $5