The word on the street

Kidstreet are stopping by with their non-stop dance party

Despite horrendous weather conditions, siblings and songsters Edna, Karl and Cliff Snyder (from left) shot their video for “Penny Candy” in just two shots.
Despite horrendous weather conditions, siblings and songsters Edna, Karl and Cliff Snyder (from left) shot their video for “Penny Candy” in just two shots.
Credit: 
Supplied

Thickly falling flakes frame vocalist Edna Snyder’s face as she makes her way through thick snowdrifts, occasional flashes of light and editing distorting Waterloo-based band Kidstreet’s video for “Penny Candy”. One third of the experimental synth-pop group, Snyder said she remembers when the band assembled.

“When I was 18 and Karl realized he had a little sister who could play piano and that I might be a resource worth using,” she said with a laugh.

Mixing song and sibling may not work for everyone—ahem, Gallaghers—but Cliff, Karl and Edna Snyder undoubtedly have a certain X factor poised to break down any rivalry or conflict thrown their way. The had a chance to chat with the trio over the phone in light of their gig opening for Dragonette at Ale House tomorrow.

Have you always been a musical bunch?

Edna: Cliff and I both took piano as children, so we’re classically trained. I continued on with it at university a little bit. Karl, who writes most of the instrumentation and really, well mostly everything, he never really took lessons.

Karl: I took three or four drum lessons and then decided it was going to ruin drumming for me … so I guess we always have been kind of musical, or at least our parents always gave us the opportunity to play instruments if we so chose to do that.

When did you transition into playing production and synth-heavy tunes?

Edna: When I was 18 and Karl realized he had a little sister who could play piano and that I might be a resource worth using.

Karl: Yeah I guess that is kind of true. One of the things about playing music with your siblings is … you have the family resemblances when it comes to taste, but it also helps conflict resolution a lot because you’ve been doing conflict resolution your whole lives.

You probably get asked this frequently, but how is it working, playing and touring with your siblings?

Cliff: I think it’s awesome! No I’m serious. I’ve been in other bands where you’re not siblings and it’s kind of like being in a relationship … something goes wrong in the band and you break up and never speak to the other people again. Stuff falls out. But when it’s your brother and sister you don’t really have the option for stuff to really fall out. You’re always going to be brother and sister so you find ways to make it work whereas with other bands you might just pack it in … When it’s your brother and sister you’re working with you find ways that you can make the band work.

You’re releasing a full length this April, how has the process been?

Karl: It’s taken so long. About a year and a half ago we probably could have released an LP and it would have been very different from the one we’re releasing now. We just kept pushing it back and pushing it back and then we signed on with Nettwerk and everything got pushed back more and more and more. We released an EP when we first started which was completely instrumental and we just self-released it. That’s the only thing we’ve released other than the single … we’re kind of new to that whole thing. It’s done, it’s finished, I think we’re all excited to get it out there and see what the response is.

I caught your set with PS I Love You at The Drake Hotel in Toronto in December and you have such a captivatingly energetic live show. How do you translate that energy into a record?

Karl: It’s almost a piece of contention in the band, with how to … you can’t really develop that onto a record. In certain ways, maybe we’ll learn how to do that as we go, but as it stands … how do you replicate jumping around? We haven’t quite figured it out yet. It’s fairly difficult to replicate that I’d say.

Can you tell me a little bit about the video for “Penny Candy”?

That process was a bit of mess because we’d invited out a bunch of our friends and then it ended up being about the worst day ever. It was 0 degrees and it started raining 10 minutes before people were getting together and then it dropped down to minus five … people sat around for the first hour and then about half the people left. By the end of the video we only had maybe 10 people who had stuck around. Some very nice people who stuck around … it worked out OK. The concept was to make it look like one shot from the start to the finish. I think it was two shots. The concept was to just be quick with it and do lots of editing kind of thing.

Can we expect to see more videos in the next little while?

Cliff: Hell yeah. We’ve actually got two separate videos on the go right now. We haven’t actually released any new videos yet since that “Penny Candy” one. We’re feeling some pressure to really get it done and like I said we’ve got a few different video concepts on the go right now.

Karl: There are a couple different independent video artists we’re working with right now for later releases. I’m pretty excited with the work they’re doing. There’s some pretty cool animation stuff coming up. We’re just trying to do our own video but we’re finding out it is difficult. A video takes a lot of time, that’s for sure. I wish it was more like making a song—that would be a lot easier.

Is it really easy to make a song?

Karl: It’s become easy, because you get a routine down.

What inspires you to write?

Karl: Oftentimes, it’s difficult to say I guess, but you’ve got to find inspiration within relationships and stuff like that and other music. I think one of the things is just to ride with whatever emotion you’re feeling at the time. Sometimes I’ll come home from work and I’ll have lots of energy and I’ll sit down at the drum kit and just play and whatever comes from that, the song will have that energy. Or if I’m kind of sad, it just kind of happens.

What about influences?

Karl: Cliff and Edna definitely have more of a wide variety. Edna what have you been listening to lately?

Edna: I don’t know, to be honest, a lot of the time when I’m listening to music is when I’m working at the library and I tend to listen to a lot more down tempo stuff. The other day I was listening to Edith Piaf and Francoise Hardy and I was listening to Chopin so it really depends. Sometimes in the morning I’ll listen to Best Coast, I really enjoyed their album from last year.

Do you ever go back to your roots and play classical music?

Edna: Yeah because I was listening to it yesterday, I came home and I have this huge book of Chopin and I pulled out some of his nocturnes. I have a piano at home too so I definitely play all the time.

Do you ever tire of the energy required for the hyper active music you create?

Edna: When I’m performing, no not at all.

Cliff: Me either, I love it.

Edna: The only time I’d maybe want to be down-tempo would be during the creative process. In terms of our live show and being on stage, high energy is where it’s at.

Karl: I totally agree with that as well, it’s what makes playing live so fun.

Edna: I used to play in a band that was I guess a little more trip hoppy influenced and it was pretty down tempo and the songs were sad and the audience would be kind of sad, it just wasn’t as much fun.

Edna you mentioned you work at a library, which one?

Edna: It’s at the University of Waterloo.

Do you ever find inspiration there?

Actually I pulled out a book of Elizabethan poetry or like lyrics the other day … you never know when you’re going to find influence.

Is Waterloo a musical hub?

Karl: Yes and no, there are a number of different scenes … there are some local magazines reporting on local bands I’ve never heard of so there definitely is, but it’s not like a huge musical scene. There’s a good art scene I would say, I mean visual art and just sort of creative things. At least within the people that we see very often out and about there are lots of neat ideas going on.

Do you ever collaborate with fellow musicians from Waterloo?

Karl: Mostly just each other, I don’t know, do you know who Bocce is? They’re a lot of fun … in the same circle.

Edna: I actually never have to be honest … I almost did with Andy McGuire.

Cliff: We actually play Toronto more than we play Waterloo. That’s where our musical home is at, it’s always nice to come back and play shows in Waterloo every three or four months but we try not to overplay to our local crowd…we can kind of treat Toronto like our home base.

Where does the name of your single X come from?

Karl: The name X, I started writing that song I guess about when you break up with someone but you still want to see them, but you don’t want to see them. It had to do with an ex-girlfriend I guess.

Cliff: That’s always what I thought.

Edna mentioned Karl writes most of the songs, Edna and Cliff, do you ever inquire about certain songs’ subject matter?

Cliff: There’s certainly room for discussion.

Karl: I should say Edna and I collaborate on almost all the lyrics now. There’s not a whole lot of discussion on the nature of the songs. I think that might be a sibling thing though, I don’t know, maybe you guys should start asking me.

Is your band name a nod to the early 1990s television show?

Karl: Yes and no. We’re not sure if we could get in trouble for that. I mean, we’re pretty sure we’re clear on that. Officially, no, but unofficially, yeah.

Did you watch it when it was on air?

Cliff: Oh yeah. Totally. I always thought Karl and I would’ve been perfect for that show. We were the right age, I really wanted to be on it. I think we would’ve done really well.

Can we expect exclusively electro dance vibes on the upcoming album?

Karl: Not entirely. Do you know the Ford commercial song [“Song”]? That one is on the album. It’s not exactly synth pop … it’s not all synth pop and I think that’s kind of by design. I know even when I’m writing I get bored with the same idea. The album is a collection of a few different styles. We have a few more instrumental tracks. There’s one song on the album that’s pretty contentious, which a lot of people like, but I don’t think our main crowd will like because it’s not electro at all … but a lot of people would’ve been mad at me if I didn’t put it on the album … it’s one of those things where we write a lot of different styles but as far as the album’s concerned it’s sort of experimental electro pop.

You’ve been playing for a couple years now, do you have a most memorable gig?

Karl: I would say playing with Girl Talk.

Cliff: That’s what I was going to say too.

Karl: It wasn’t necessarily our best show because the stage was so gigantic that we were so far apart. There was no communication. At one point I wanted to get Cliff’s attention and I almost threw my drumstick at him.

Cliff: He probably couldn’t have even thrown it that far, it was a really big stage.

Karl: But I think the experience of just walking on that stage and seeing so many people was outstanding … you kind of hope nothing goes wrong, that’s for sure.

Edna: The only other one I was thinking was the Vancouver show.

Cliff: The Thunderheist one was out of control.

Edna: The crowd reaction and energy and even our own performance I felt was pretty strong there.

Have you played in Kingston before?

Edna: We have right?

Cliff: Yeah we’ve played there twice!

Karl: With Green Go.

I could see you totally rocking a venue called the Artel in a similar vein to another dance-inducing band, Gobble Gobble.

Karl: They’re like the nicest people in the world they put on such a good show.

Any hopes for your gig with Dragonette on Wednesday?

Karl: Fun and high energy and hopefully a good crowd response … when touring you just kind of hope you remember everything too when we leave the house.

Cliff: That’s our hope—we hope we don’t forget anything at home.

Did you know there’s a plane in the bar you’re playing at?

Karl: Well, we hope we don’t bring the plane down.

Kidstreet play with Dragonette at Ale House tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at The Brass, Tricolour Outlet, Brian’s Record Option and ticketscene.ca

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