Interview: Holy F***

Holy F*** may have electronic dance music in its sights, but no way is the quartet employing your standard techniques or equipment in the making of it. Instead, the Toronto-based group is proud to bring us a live and kicking bunch of instrumental noise, reigned in by nuance and stunning dynamics. It’s the kind of thing that fills Holy F***’s newest release, Latin, and that’s started a few riots onstage (quite literally). The band’s founder Brian Borcherdt fills us in…

Text + Interview: Min Chen

What’s up, Holy F***?
Touring, touring, and more touring.

Are you looking forward to meeting the likes of us at Laneway Singapore?
Absolutely. We’re very excited. We just wish we could stay longer.

Give us a peek into the working dynamic within the band.
Usually Graham or I will find a cool sound or beat; we find it existing on a Casio or some sort of toy keyboard. That’s where the inspiration begins. And the whole band begins to add their parts. It’s really open and communal for us to all write together. One thing we’ve noticed changing is that now Graham and I are bringing in outside ideas, not just sounds we find on toys. BUT we don’t want to lose the spirit and the creative challenge of working with busted up, broken Casios, so we still do that. It’s still the most fun.

Is that same spirit to be found in Latin?
We still wanted to follow the original inspiration the band started with – the idea of challenging ourselves to make something exciting and listenable out of very limited means, such as discarded toys, old battery run keyboard beats. But this time, we also wanted to focus on making a dynamic record as well. We wanted it to have moments of peace to balance out the aggressive noisy aspects.

But surely, there are both pluses and minuses to working with non-traditional electronic gear.
The advantage for me is that it challenges me to be as creative as possible working with limitations, as opposed to working with a modern electronic medium that has endless possibilities. These broken, little beats we use are one-dimensional and they only do one sh*tty thing, so we are forced to work with them as a compromise. But the end result for us is satisfying and creatively liberating. I wouldn’t be happy programming on a laptop or making records with a machine that needs a manual and has limitless options. The end result, for me, would probably present a multi-layered system of self-doubt and second-guessing.

So do you find it more liberating being an instrumental band as opposed to a lyrical one?
Yes. I enjoy writing lyrics for my own bedroom songs – creating melody and mood with an acoustic guitar and adding a narrative. But that isn’t what this band does. I think it allows us all to express ourselves without having to tailor ourselves to the “frontman” or having to keep true to only one individual’s thought process.

Lastly: any hopes and dreams for Holy F***?
Hmm… honestly we’ve achieved so many of them. Still, we feel there is a better Holy F*** record in us. We want another chance to make something creatively fulfilling.

Can’t get enough? Check out the band’s myspace.