Fembots Take It to the Limit
Published Jan 01, 2006Ever feel lost in the supermarket, clutching your coupon for guaranteed personality? Ever turn off the internet and pick up a book? The ironic thing about plenitude of choice is that we often fail to explore the possibilities in our own backyards, in our own kitchens.
"I think you get more out of having limitations and having to work your way around those limitations, than you do from having no limitations at all," says Dave McKinnon. Together with Brian Poirier, they comprise Toronto's modern experimental blues deconstructionist duo the Fembots. "You certainly end up in much more exciting places than you imagined when you started. That's a big drawing point for us."
In a digital age when anyone can be a plunderphonicist, sometimes the most intriguing sounds can be made with battered thrift store instruments and household objects, whether you're Tom Waits or Matthew Herbert. The Fembots draw more from the former, however, in recontextualising familiar sounds to make their analog folk music sound exotic and strange. Although they don't take their songwriting lightly, McKinnon admits that on their second album, Small Town Murder Scene, a song will often be inspired by a sound. "Brian is greatly responsible for the found sound aspect of things. He's very good at hearing a tiny snippet of a sound and knowing how it can be expanded into a song. He has a recording Walkman he travels with, and he has a large backlog of sound effects and strange noises that find their way into a lot of stuff."
McKinnon insists that they aren't anti-digital, but that analog is the answer for them. "There's a lot of times when you want to get the idea down as quickly as possible before it's gone. Any time I've worked with computers, there are too many options and it seems to put enough of a drag on the process. I like to work quickly, and the analog stuff is what we both know inside-out."