The dawning of a golden age

Toronto-based duo Phèdre will celebrate the release of their latest album in Kingston tonight

The Journal caught up with experimental electronic band Phèdre before their show last weekend in their hometown of Toronto.
The Journal caught up with experimental electronic band Phèdre before their show last weekend in their hometown of Toronto.
Supplied by Maya Fuhr

Toronto lies what seems to be an abandoned warehouse.

Yet the ghostly brick building at 35 Strachan Ave., otherwise known as the Clay & Paper Theatre, looked like it fit Phèdre’s vibe perfectly.

I caught up with Phèdre before their Toronto show last weekend, where they were celebrating the release of their latest album Golden Age.

April Aliermo walked me through the venue, showing off colorful papier-mâché masks and over-the-top props that would get used later that night.

Right after meeting her, I could instantly sense that she was, in every aspect, an artist with a true passion for the craft.

She and Phèdre’s other half, Daniel Lee, decided to take up residency in Berlin for one month during a gloomy winter to write and record Golden Age. “It’s interesting that [we recorded] nine months ago because that’s how long it takes to make a baby,” Aliermo said.

Golden Age, their second release, debuted last month. The album title speaks to the group’s cosmic, avant-garde energy.

“We were writing in the new golden age, the Age of Aquarius where a lot of changes are happening,” she said.

The Age of Aquarius denotes the astrological age of our solar system and also refers to the New Age movement that takes a holistic approach to the mind, body and soul.

This post-modern approach to music sets Phèdre apart from the crowd.

If you haven’t stumbled upon their music yet, brace yourself. Aliermo described their sound as “jellyfish having sex and dancing at the same, and crying because it was so beautiful and awful.”

Aliermo and Lee began making music over a decade ago and have worked together in other Toronto-based art and music projects, like Hooded Fang and Tonkapuma.

The duo met while boating on Lake Ontario.

“We stopped and had a chat and then went fishing,” she said.

Their artistic endeavours started shortly after.

After years of touring and creating music, something dawned upon Phèdre’s female member.

“There’s not many women touring in our genre of music,” Aliermo said. “It’s getting to a point where it starts to feel energetically taxing.”

The vast majority of musicians, sound engineers and light technicians are male, which she said can take its toll on a female in the industry.

“It makes me feel like I have to assert myself as a woman even more to counterbalance all the male energy,” she said.

Aliermo recalled a time when she was in southeast Asia and came across pre-teen girls who were given death threats for starting a rock and roll band.

“When a 12-year-old girl comes up to me and says ‘wow, I want to play the bass someday,’ that means a lot to me,” Aliermo said.

“For me, music is a universal thing and it’s something that everyone should be able to be involved in no matter our sex or your race,” Lee said.

The passionate, socially-aware duo will bring Golden Age to Kingston for the first time as Phèdre.

“We hope Kingston likes to dance because we don’t like standing in front of audiences who don’t dance,” he said.

If Toronto’s performance was any indication of how their upcoming Kingston show will go, expect nothing less than a party.

Phèdre will play at The Artel with Ken Park and Bo0ts on Friday, Nov. 8.

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