Sit back and listen to the steamy, dreamy, electronic melodies of Eight and a Half. You may not recognize the music off hand, but should you have any knowledge of Canada’s rich indie rock scene, you will definitely recognize the players involved.
It’s been suggested that the best way to get over a break up is to indulge in something fresh and easy, and that’s exactly what The Stills’ Dave Hamelin and Liam O’Neil, along with Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff have done.
When their respective Montreal and Toronto groups both called it quits, the trio teamed up to form what emerged as Eight and a Half. “I think we weren’t necessarily looking for anything specific, aside from just playing together,” Hamelin told FILLER in a recent interview. “The only thing that keeps us interested, and keeps us moving is that we actually like playing together.”
Signing on to the new project meant Hamelin had the opportunity to leave his hometown of Montreal, and head to Toronto, a move he says has been made especially easy by the musicians he plays with and friends he has made since relocating. “I love all of those people. They’re my favourite people, and they are the reason that moving here has been okay for me,” he shares. Hamelin also notes other benefits to his recent change in scenery. “I love the sort of anonymity, I like the fact that it’s sort of like…slightly cold,” he says. “People are really shy, and they don’t like talking to too many people, everyone is kind of quiet, and its kind of nice.”
Change is in the air for the men of Eight and a Half — the proof is in their sound, and its noticeable departure from each member’s previous project. Not surprisingly, since each of the guys are in a new role, an opportunity Hamelin appreciates. “I’m the only singer in this band, and it’s different for me, and it’s fun for me,” he says. Less intensive than the members’ previous chart topping groups, Eight and a Half seems to be more about making music and experimenting with friends, than fame or monetary success. “It’s actually fun,” says Hamelin. “There are not a lot of people in the band, [and] we all love playing together. It’s been a while for me…I haven’t just really jammed with people, and been like ‘wow, this is fucking awesome!’”
Although Hamelin says his musical preferences are usually pointed toward historic rock founders like Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd, Eight and a Half’s maverick combo of lyrics, synth and melody is sign enough that the group is in the know when it comes to emerging trends within their independent music genre.
We asked Hamelin to use his prowess to create a summer playlist for us. Below is a collection of songs you can pool hop to all season long.
Dave Hamelin’s Summer Listening
Lil Wayne – “Dr. Carter”
I remember walking down a random street in Berlin, and running into Jamie from The Unicorns, and having a conversation with him about hip hop. He told me that I had to give Lil Wayne a listen, and so when I got back home from that particular European tour, I got myself a copy of the Carter 3, and Dr. Carter was the first track that caught my attention. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear that kind of lyrical perfection. And Lil Wayne’s lyrics are often pretty perfect, and that perfection gives me goosebumps.
Laurie Anderson – “Oh Superman”
Jimmy (Shaw) bought a Roland SVC 350 vocoder, and when I asked him why he did, and what was so special about a vocoder, he played me this track, and I was immediately floored by the sounds and the amazing lyrics.
A-track and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Heads Will Roll Remix”
I was really late to the party on this one, and shouldn’t have been considering A Track is a hometown-homeboy, and that the YYY’S are awesome, but I first heard this a couple of months ago, and it is the best remix I have ever heard.
Samiyam – “Kitties”
Peroff has been all over this future-beat-aphex-hop stuff for a while now, and I’ve been enjoying a lot of it by proxy, and Samiyam has the deepest bass. This song also has great cat sounds.
Kraftwerk – “Radioactivity”
I love this record. It makes me feel like a teenager every time I put it on.
Julian Casablancas – “Out of the Blue”
It’s strange that this record kind of came and went for most people, but I’ve had this one blaring over the speaks since it came out. This song is literally perfect.
Flying Lotus – “Comet Course”
I am a big Aphex Twin fan, and Flying Lotus is the closest thing to that energy right now. I love “Los Angeles” and this track is one of my faves. There’s a big sub kick that comes banging in every couple of bars that is to die for.
Kate Bush – “Running Up that Hill”
People are all about Kate Bush again, and for very good reason. She’s an incredible singer, and this is such an incredible song I had it on repeat for about a year.
Amy Winehouse – “Back to Black”
I was really saddened by Amy’s death. It’s also been sad to see so many American Idol-like imitations. Adele couldn’t write lyrics like this.
Pink Floyd – “Speak to Me Breathe in the Air”
I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio recently, and a lot of those days end at 4 a.m. when everyone’s drunk and stoned, and wants to hear Dark Side of The Moon on the big speakers. When that heartbeat reaches its climax and the band rakes in, I can’t help feeling like an Ocean.
Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”
After you listened to all of Dark Side of the Moon, and everybody wants a sing along, but not to change the vibe too much, you put on Wish You Were Here, and everyone is really satisfied, and the power of song is reaffirmed for everyone present.
Writer Amy Weinstein is co-founder of www.syncopatedsound.com. A fun-loving music fan herself, Syncopated Sound is dedicated to sharing the latest in upcoming shows and album releases, as well as featuring original interviews and editorials from a distinct perspective.