Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pitstop: Happy Trendy

                                                         (Photo by Tonje Thilesen)

One of the things which immediately puts me on the defensive at a show is the visual presence of a laptop. With music easier and easier to make without even needing to play an instrument, laptop musicians have popped up everywhere and their sets, in my experience, are often the most boring. There's nothing worse than watching a guy stand in the same spot, face illuminated by a laptop screen and watching him hit buttons. Regardless of how good the track is on record it almost always pales in comparison and then lacks the saving grace of an in-the-moment performance edge.

That's a pretty harsh criticism I know but it's one of which there are exceptions. While produced music might not be my go-to there are certain times when it has to ability to knock you off your feet completely. It helps when the electronic musician actually engages with the crowd like Happy Trendy. I suppose it's a bit unfair to lump the Canadian in with those unassuming laptop musicians as Dylan Khotin-Foote takes a very active role in his music creation (there's not a laptop in sight). It's not just the fact that he actually looks up when performing, it's not even that Khotin-Foote appears to know what he's doing with his synth, it's the way that his music manages to be both dance-y and melodic. It sounds like a no brainer but it's not always something you get but it is with Happy Trendy.

You can't always full out bust a move to Happy Trendy but you can always appreciate the slow lilting melodies and recall them later at your leisure. His tunes stay with you. Not necessarily in the same way a hard-hitting rock jam would but there's no doubt that Khotin-Foote has a real ear for melody. It's not all about the beats and there's a subtle touch to the way he his layers come together - never overwhelming, each musical idea gets its time to shine and serves a purpose. It shows a level of thought and musicians you don't always get with dime-a-dozen electronic musicians and as long as musicians like Happy Trendy exist, I won't be quite as quick to condemn them all. 

Happy Trendy's Die Young EP cassette on Orchid Tapes is no longer available BUT you can currently stream/download/love forever on Bandcamp.

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