It’s always really cool when European bands fly over the ocean and bring their music with them. One band that I found out about recently is MTT, short for Minus the Tiger (Fisherman Recs). They’re right out of The Netherlands, a wonderful country that Ottawa and Canada have a particularly strong bond with. The long-lasting friendship has been rekindled every year with the Tulip Festival here in Ottawa, which began in 1953 when the Dutch Royal Family sent 100,000 bulbs as a gift in perpetuity for Canada’s role in providing them with safe harbour during the German occupation of The Netherlands during the Second World War. I always loved that story, and it turns out I also love Dutch bands. MTT have that dark, spacey synth sound that a few of my current favourite Canadian bands are going for and European ones like The Knife mastered earlier on. Their new album Years From Now has been on repeat ever since I found out about it, basically because it is a great album all around. I cannot explain how amazing it is for me when great musicians employ the use of synths to accentuate their music, but keep true to their other instruments by keeping them front and centre.
MTT are landing on Canadian soil this week and making their first stop in Ottawa at Pressed on Wednesday night (Apr. 30). They’re making a few other stops in Montreal, Wakefield, amongst a few others, as well as two CMW showcases in Toronto. Be sure to catch these guys, they’re the kind of band that’s a sure thing to give you your money’s worth live. On top of that, one of our local faves Bosveld is opening, along with DJ Vinelli. Doors at 8pm/$7/AA – music over by 11. Check out my interview with Anne of MTT below.
It’s interesting to see bands going back to 80’s and 90’s with respect to their influences. What were some bands or artists from that time that have helped inform your music and overall style?
Partially it’s youth nostalgia. I remember spending what seemed to be endless mornings on the couch with my mom watching music videos. Artists like a-Ha, Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Later on, I started to appreciate some of these pop artists on a more musical level as well. Especially Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins I started to get into later – they became a big influence.Then there’s the whole Eurohouse thing that seems to be making a re-entry nowadays. And of course grunge and shoegaze. These are all sounds that are always somewhere in the back of my mind and have influenced me directly or indirectly. Difference being now I’m no longer ashamed to say out loud they are of influence.
The darker synth sound MTT is going for is one that is catching on in Canada with bands like DIANA, TRUST, and Weeknight. With so much synth-based pop music out there, what is it about your sound that you think separates it from the rest?
Is it? That’s great because where we’re from everyone’s more into singer-songwriters or pop rock. Ha-ha! Oh and you’re forgetting Valleys who made a really nice album last year! To me the, artists mentioned have a great variety in sound and approach very much the same as more I guess you would call than traditional bands have. I have to be honest though, I am not too fond of questions like these. As I said these artists all have a very different approach to music and aside from using beats and electronic drums and synths they are very different. Now the darker atmosphere is something similar, but maybe that’s just a sign of times. Maybe the fact that people are getting into that shows we are finally ready to face these dark times we’re living in.
In what ways has MTT grown as a band since coming together a few years back?
It’s not been such a long time since we formed. It started out as a vehicle for my songs and the first record (our debut album selftitled Minus The Tiger, 2011) is us finding a sound we liked. On Years From Now we are more consistent in our sound and song choices even though in the process we didn’t want to think about direction at all. This is what sort of comes natural at this moment. In our live performance we made a huge leap as well. Being on stage is always a big thing for me, slightly uneasy as well. But with this band and these songs I feel more confident putting on a good show.
Have any of you been to North America before?
We toured Canada with our previous record and played CMW, but it wasn’t officially released then. We’ve sort of fallen in love with Canada, the minor part we got to see that is. I really like the different cities, they each have a different vibe and all have a certain attraction. I also like the Canadian music culture. It’s very vibrant and diverse and slightly down to earth which is something us Europeans can relate to I guess. For bands like us it is very hard to get our message across in our home country where the scene is extremely small and very one-dimensional. Of course there is a lot of competition everywhere and being in music means working extremely hard anywhere in the world. But it seems that places like Montréal have a different sort of culture that allows for more breathing room for bands and artists like us.
4. As a band from The Netherlands, what is it like to be selected to play at festivals like CMW and POP Montreal?
Well, pretty exciting. Especially since they selected us based on some rough first edits of songs. It’s crazy how we were just starting out and find people in the music scene across the ocean liking what we do. And then to come there and find so much love of music and also our music. Makes me feel really happy and fortunate to be back.
5. Is there a city in the world that you dream of playing in someday?
New York perhaps, and that will actually happen soon. I wonder what it will be like to play a city where so many incredible artists play everyday. Will we drown or thrive? It’s a challenge. But really it doesn’t matter where you play. We’ve played places expecting it to be overwhelming but being the total opposite and vice versa. It all depends on the people, your mood, their mood, the timing, the atmosphere. You never really know what you’ll get, you can only “play your hearts out” as a fellow musician I know always puts it.
6. What is something about your home base of Utrecht that you think Canadians should know about? It can be anything at all.
It’s like Amsterdam but without the tourists. And if you like coffee go to The Village Coffee and Music.
7. What does the band have planned for the next year?
After we play Canada, we’re playing some festivals back home, then head out to NYC where we’ve been selected to play Northside Festival. In September we hope to be back in Canada for more shows. After that we’ll probably take it easy for a little bit, release some new videos, some remixes and start working on a new release.