Posted on March 27, 2011
Timber Timbre is happiest when visually represented by spooky, blurry, and otherworldly images that evoke their music. But as their popularity grew, demands like photo shoots increased, so the group took a break from rehearsals to reunite in the faded 19th-century glory of Toronto’s Great Hall for a new photoshoot. Everyone is gracious, but no one is particularly comfortable. Frontman Taylor Kirk tosses his shirt and he and lap steel player Simon Trottier seek the unspoken approval of violinist Mika Posen before posing in front of a slate backdrop. The sharp focus of the scene elicits an “oh my god, this is painful” from Kirk. The beautiful new album from Timber Timbre Creep On Creepin ‘On will see the media gaze come down harder than ever, asking again and again for a glimpse of how an enigmatic and highly personal project has grown and diversified through its metamorphosis into a full-fledged band. Timber Timbre is having growing pains, but they’re all in the same boat.
The photoshoot is not the only source of perplexity today; Rehearsals are also a new concept for Timber Timbre as they try to translate their new record live. Kirk remains at the forefront as a supernatural storyteller, but the group’s finely nuanced experimentation is like a kaleidoscope of gray. Although Creep On Creepin ‘On suggests a prom night in hell circa 1956, the influences of weird film composers Angelo Baladamenti and Ennio Morricone are more pronounced than ever. “Suddenly I feel a certain pressure to recreate the sound of this record to some extent,” Kirk says, typically introspective. He is not openly worried but his apprehension is clear. “A lot of these songs are really weird to play. We’re just trying to find time to sit down as a band and play these songs. I don’t know how we’re going to do that.”
Mika Posen and Simon Trottier joined Timber Timbre in 2009; she comments “it’s still quite new for [Kirk], play with a group. The last record was still mainly Taylor’s project and was composed as a live band thereafter. With this album, it was the first time that we sat down together and tried to figure out how to do things for a live show. “
She and Trottier talk about Kirk in a protective way, respectful of the strength of vision attached to Timber Timbre as a solo project. Although guest musicians have graced most of Timber Timbre’s records, the essence has always been Kirk’s personal vision, which evokes the many moods of rural, if not necessarily beautiful, settings. Comparisons have been rightly made with the disturbing natural abstractions of painter Andrew Wyeth and author Flannery O’Connor. Kirk grew up near Brooklin, Ontario, and although not a farm boy, he admits an affinity with the natural themes so common among Canadian singer-songwriters. “The thing of nature,” he said impassively. “Rural spaces can become really romantic. For me, it goes back to my childhood, then living in the city and missing that space. I think a lot of people who are in Toronto who are not from Toronto [miss it too]. “
Kirk spent his early years in Toronto (and has since moved to Montreal) as a drummer and guitarist in various bands without having the urge to create his own. Timber Timbre was born after a long time in a cabin in the woods. “When I first started writing, I was watching recordings of old folk music and kind of imitating that composition. I tried to get away from that kind of thing.” His first album, 2006’s Cedar shakes, gave a deeply introspective but not melodramatic soul whose music had a strong back porch vibe. Returning to Toronto, Kirk found himself associated with a collaborative scene of recombinant players concerned with nature and spirituality that would produce Ohbijou, Ghost Bees (now Tasseomancy), Forest City Lovers and most notably Bruce Peninsula.
The Bruce Peninsula is where Daniela Gesundheit first met Kirk. She is the lead singer of Snowblink, which will be touring with Timber Timbre this spring. “I moved here in 2008 from California and [Bruce Peninsula] were an immediate portal to the Toronto community. We had all gone to a chalet to work on songs, ”she recalls. Kirk, she said, “was a little shy, but we had a good relationship from the start. “
Gesundheit describes the growing mystique of the character of Kirk’s Timber Timbre, which was then beginning to inspire fiery admiration from friends and fans alike. “He really listens to his surroundings. Some people dance, some people have a little tears in their eyes, often people are totally fascinated and really, really present, which is really rare. a show and they dream. This is not the case. with him. “
Timber Timbre’s self-titled third album in 2009 saw an expansion of its sound and popularity. The producer of the album, Chris Stringer, says: “As a friend, I lobbied for a long time to make this album, about a year and a half. We spent three or four days in the studio, and I think each song was to take one or two. I have pretty high standards, but it was amazing how much that was coming from him. He just has this thing that we all try. ”The odd organ s ‘flourished, Posen’s subtle and insistent drum parts and quietly dissonant violin represented a big leap from the laid-back sparseness of previous endeavors. Kirk’s voice continued to gain character comparisons with Elvis, Leonard Cohen, and Gene Vincent, and he often reflected on the perceived retro-authenticity of his approach. “I’ve never really been interested in getting too ‘authentic.’ But for me, it’s almost like preserving certain aesthetics that are in all the music that I love and that interests me.”
Arts and Crafts picked up the distribution record, and gradually a more comprehensive performance set emerged. He had toured separately with Posen and Trottier, then the trio formed by accident. “I went with Taylor to Montreal to do a show at La Salla Rossa opening for Torngat,” recalls Posen. “This is where Simon and I met: on stage without rehearsal.” Each member praises the alchemy of live unity, which brings depth and spontaneity to Kirk’s songs. Posen and Trottier both have backgrounds in improvisation scenes, and their contributions belied Timber Timbre’s stereotype as retro music.
Wood stamp, according to Kirk’s estimate, has been released four times on different labels and in different territories, and its popularity has skyrocketed after the use of “Magic Arrow” in television series breaking Bad. “The first year of touring, we were together every second of every day,” says Posen. “We were sharing a hotel room.” On stage, the method was the same, exploring and reconstructing the repertoire without too much formal discussion or rehearsal. However, some behind-the-scenes roles have emerged. Kirk and Trottier had been friends for years and shared a family of musicians; it was a little different with Posen. “I’m definitely the optimist who fights negativity every day,” she says, choosing her words carefully. “I’ve never felt more like a girl in my life than playing with this band. I find myself making sure people ate. I’m always the one with the snacks and water. Sometimes, It touches me in some situations, but I feel like I kind of naturally fell into it, it’s part of the dynamic. I have mixed feelings about that, but it’s okay for now. “
When is the time to do Creep On Creepin ‘OnKirk needed to articulate the respective roles more precisely. The songs sprouted over two years, spurred by a residency in Sackville, NB in June of last year. The final product credits “Timber Timbre” as a writer, arranger and producer. “It was Taylor’s solo project before we started playing with him,” Trottier says. “I try to bring my ideas to the arrangements, but Taylor writes all the songs.” Posen adds: “I prefer not to be the leader. I contribute, but I am not responsible for the record. I am totally happy in this role.”
Kirk acknowledges that “writing is always a lonely process, it will always be something I do on my own, usually in a sort of isolation.” However, thanks to the closeness of recent years, Posen has a deeper understanding of Kirk’s obsessive and paranormal lyrics. “I feel like I can guess what the songs are about now, as opposed to previous records where I had no idea. I think you have to spend so much time with him and know what’s going on in his life to find out what they’re about because it disguises things really, really well. They’re relationship songs for sure, and maybe not even so disguised. “
What has changed considerably is the music. There are times when Creep On Creepin ‘On threatens to abandon the minimalism of earlier records. The dissonance was seriously amplified, with Trottier’s lap steel providing an alien presence at every turn, and Posen’s Nelson Riddle-meets-Stravinsky curd string arrangements saw through the listener’s synapses. There’s also a tighter approach to rhythm anchored by Kirk’s low-key kit work, which makes the rock songs even stronger. Other essential contributions are made by saxophonist Colin Stetson and keyboardist Mathieu Charbonneau. Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire) helped record and mix the album. Put it all together and you get… hip-hop? No kidding. Just try not to nod your head during the opening of the “Bad Ritual” album.
“I felt really strong for ‘Bad Ritual’,” Kirk said. “I didn’t have a clear idea of how this song should sound, and I thought it was really well done. I’ve always been really into this kind of production and sensation; like Wu Tang and Raekwon or the early White Stripes. I’ve always wanted to make music that sounds like it’s been sampled or tinkered with. “
Timber Timbre is always indelibly identified with Kirk. He is aware of the tension between needing his own space, working in a group and the increased demands of his time. Success “is a problem, but it’s a good problem to have,” he argues. “I would love to be [recording] All the time. I don’t like playing and touring. I mean, I love it, but I don’t really need it all the time. “
The integrity of Timbre Timbre still requires some fuzzy edges; for the lonely mystery to bubble to create inspiration for Kirk. His friend Gesundheit knows him well. “His words are the epitome of bare honesty, they are so shrewd and intelligent. They have a bit of a disguise, his words have masks.”
Four albums on the Timber Timbre experience, and having to delve deeper into himself and then share it with collaborators and audiences, Kirk says: I’ve always really struggled with that. I hope it’s more fluid and natural. It’s still quite laborious for me. But it is okay. “