BERNICE PERFORMS PERSEFONY SONGS WITH TORONTO DANCE THEATRE
MARCH 5-9. MORE INFORMATION HERE
PERSEFONY SONGS SCORE CAN BE FOUND ON CASSETTE AT THEATRE LOBBY
PUFF LP: IN THE AIR WITHOUT A SHAPE OUT NOW VIA ARTS & CRAFTS
"analytical, self-dissecting... a monument to ephemerality" - New York Times
“one of Toronto’s great off-kilter pop hopes” - The FADER
“[Bernice] create a mesmerizing sound... so much so that it is easy to hit repeat on the track and you only realize a handful of hours later that's all you've been listening to.” - Noisey
“among the most interesting and underrated bands making music right now...beautiful, and not to be overlooked” - Exclaim!
“one of the most interesting bands out of Toronto right now” - Pigeons & Planes
PHOTO CREDIT : Claire Harvie // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
This past year has been an important one for Bernice, the diverse collective of Toronto based musicians. Their debut LP on Arts & Crafts, Puff LP : In the air without a shape was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize and the band just returned from a national tour supporting the record.
Outside of Bernice, the band members are active in an array of other multi-faceted projects including their duties as active members of Bahamas, Owen Pallett, Leif Vollebekk, and DIANA. Lead vocalist Robin Dann lent a hand to electronic producer Ryan Hemsworth and ambient jazz composer Joseph Shabason, while keyboardist Thom Gill contributed to new releases from Chaka Khan and a forthcoming album from The Mountain Goats. Gill and Dann, together with collective members Felicity Williams (vocals), Phil Melanson (percussion), and Dan Fortin (bass), have also backed other performers as a whole including Martha Wainwright and Devon Sproule.
Speaking to A.Side, Gill says “I like that there’s no main thing that I get lost in. I’d be happy if it was Bernice, but I don’t think it would ever be that. We all really thrive off of doing something different every day, it’s so fun.”
This week, the collective has paired with The Toronto Dance Theatre for Persefony Songs, a performance that riffs on images from Christopher House's acclaimed choreography Persephone’s Lunch (2001). Scored by Gill, the stage is set with a cast of twelve dancers and the six musicians of Bernice, which has already been called one the 10 Best Stage Shows To See In March 2019 by NOW Magazine.
“We usually make our own cracked version of pop music, but when Christopher (House) floated the words ‘fake mediaeval band’ early on in the brainstorming period we immediately identified with it and booked a few days up at my family farm,” says Dann. “Each of us brought personal selections, sacred and secular, from the canons of early musics. Through experimentation, improvisation, beat-making, sunset walks and a simple recording setup, we produced over an hour’s worth of demos. It was natural and fun.”
If you’re curious about the score to Persefony Songs, “ambientmozza” is available to stream today and the original score of demos can be found on a cassette for purchase in the lobby. The show runs March 5-9, more information is available at https://tdt.org/persefonysongs.
(Persefony Songs Cassette Artwork)
Recently, Bernice also stopped by The Strombo Show for a session that included a performance of the new track “Lone Swan” and a cover of Shawn Colvin’s “Steady On”. The songs premiered this past weekend and can be heard here.
Listed as one of the Best Of 2018 from Exclaim!, NOW Toronto, and Dominionated, Puff LP: In the air without a shape is the minimalist follow-up to 2017’s maximalist, Grammy Award-winner Shawn Everett-produced Puff EP. That five song collection garnered critical attention from from its first single “Glue”, which Stereogum lauded as both “gorgeous” and “surprising” and Pitchfork praised, noting that though Bernice’s enigmatic sound is difficult to categorize with traditional genre labels, “reinvention continues to be one of few constants in Bernice’s music, and they’re all the more interesting for it.” Puff LP cut, “He’s The Moon”, grabbed the attention of the New York Times who proclaimed it to be “a monument to ephemerality.”
Puff LP: In the air without a shape is Bernice tackling pop minimalism; the stripped-down album touches on jazz as much as the enigmatic mix of pop, electronic, and R&B with their unique air of playfulness. Sitting between Enya, Julia Holter, Chairlift, and Deerhoof where clear vocal melodies fly kites over spare arrangements, Bernice’s new album attempts to mimic the playful intimacy of the band’s live show.
Recording the album to tape at Breakglass Studios in Montreal (with the exception of “He’s The Moon” and “Passenger Plane”), the band fell in love with the open spaciousness of the studio and how much it allowed them to connect whilst performing. “The vocal booths have sightlines to the band room through windows. We did live takes of each song to tape. We could look at each other, try different things, mostly we got each song in a few takes,” said Dann of the recording process.
Jun 7 - Toronto, ON - Lee’s Palace
MORE PRAISE FOR BERNICE
“deeply textured, largely experimental songs filled with wondrous and mysterious sounds” - NPR's All Songs Considered
“intricate, dream-like music from deeply emotional lyrics and woozy electronic beats.” - Pitchfork
“Experimental jazz-pop that breathes” - The FADER
“gorgeous, surprising” - Stereogum
“occupies your subconscious, leaving vestiges of melodies and lyrics behind that lie dormant for stretches of time, resurfacing intermittently and maddeningly” - Tiny Mix Tapes