Fred Perry Toronto and The Horse Shoe Tavern present a unique performance from London psychedelic outfit TOY, with a gig at The Horseshoe Tavern on 14th January.
In the backroom of a former West Indian social there’s a group playing music that flashes and arcs across the room in pure Technicolor. Anyone beyond the front row could see a thing, they’d be faced with a mass of hair and flailing limbs, a hulking analogue synth, twin guitars and a five piece group seemingly completely unfazed by the expectations being laid on them. Anyone unable to see would have to settle for the mesmeric sound. A sustained attack and release of ever-evolving psychedelia, the group effortlessly meld NYC ’77 to Neu! 75 via Warp Records and Detroit scuzzball rock. It’s a sound that seems to elevate the entire venue; one that’s made Toy the most exciting new group in Britain right now.
Toy are a London based five piece whose classic rock’n’roll songs distort and contort themselves to make a gloriously kaleidoscopic sound. While myriad influences may have gone into the group, it is a single-minded, propulsive whole that emerges from the speakers. While so much music in the 21st century has been all about the eclectic nature of the shuffle control, it’s clear that Toy are applying a ruthless filter system when creating their own sound.
Although three members of Toy – singer/guitarist Tom Dougall, guitarist Dominic O’Dair and bassist Maxim Barron – met at school and spent an unhappy period in an unsuccessful and unfulfilling major label deal (as part of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong), the band took flight in 2010 when the trio began playing keyboard player Alejandra Diez, and drummer Charlie Salvidge with the intention of making music as far from their peers as possible.
Tom “We wanted to have as many different textures as possible, to create a colourful sound. When we started working on these songs, we were pretty much oblivious to everything else around us.”
Dominic “We began practising at mine and Alejandra’s house before we found a tiny rehearsal space in Stoke Newington. It was literally a box, cramped as hell. For months, the five of us just played and played and played until the sound we have now started to stick. Prior to that, Alejandra and myself had done a lot of research into analogue synths. We knew we wanted the music to be pinned down by something big and analogue…”
The group’s final sonic enhancement came with the discovery of a synth that had previously featured heavily on records by bands as disparate as the Human League and Broadcast.
Maxim “When we found the Korg Delta, it was a huge part of everything locking together for us. The three of us had been playing guitars together since we were about fourteen; we knew what we liked and we knew what each of us could do. Finding that synth was key to us developing something far more Technicolor.”
While early Toy gigs were something of a work in progress – songs expanding or contracting dependent on the mood on the night – by the time they tour with longtime friends the Horrors, the Observer described them as “fully formed: a little wayward, yes, but scrawny and nervy and way-out.” Shortly afterwards, a chance encounter with the people behind Heavenly Recordings in the autumn of 2011 led to an offer of a deal on the spot, paving the way for a number of successful releases.