MEGAPHONO Artist Profile: HILOTRONS

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Ottawa is full of great artists, but not all of them stick around forever. One artist that has several years under his belt is Mike Dubue, the primary songwriter and composer in the Ottawa pop band HILOTRONS.

HILOTRONS have been around since 2001, with Dubue as the only member that has lasted through many different incarnations of the band’s lineup. The band’s original formation stayed together for approximately 10 years, and has been shuffled around a bit until it established its current five-piece arrangement in 2013.

The band has not only established themselves as one of Ottawa’s favourite indie pop acts over the years but garnered national recognition with cross-Canada radio play over CBC Radio, as well as being nominated for the Polaris Prize in 2008 for their record Happymatic. In the past, HILOTRONS has shared the stage with such acts as The Arcade Fire, The Unicorns, The Von Bondies, and The Constantines, and collaborated with artists like Michael Feuerstack, Jeremy Fisher and Jim Bryson, Geoffrey Pye (Yellow Jacket Avenger), and Julian Beillard (Wooden Stars).

HILOTRONS (photo: M for Montreal)

HILOTRONS cannot be described with few word, as their sound and influences are varied. As Dubue explains,

“I like a lot of experimental music, classical music, and on the other side of things I like anything from later 70’s dance/new wave to Miles Davis. I also really love the afrobeat influence on new wave, so things like Japan, or Remain In Light-era Talking Heads, Drums & Wires by XTC. That era of post-punk was very influential on me. But then again I’m a huge Escobel fan, and I love movie soundtracks, too.”

Happymatic was released in 2008 and received much critical acclaim. The sophomore album was 2013’s At Least There’s Commotion, which was a deeply personal and introspective album for Dubue.

After its release, Dubue spent a few years composing and performing film scores including Metropolis, Nosferatu, The Rail Rodder, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , Back to God’s Country, The Bear, Boy and Dog, Carry on Sergeant!, Man from Glengarry, Tim’s Tiny Tooth, Wireless Telephony, Graphite Mining in Calabogie and Night of the Living Dead.

HILOTRONS is set to release a sixth album To Trip With Terpsichore (pron: tûrp-sĭk′ə-rē or terp-sick-ree) in February 2015 in digital format, and on vinyl two months later. Since Dubue is now working with the “new band,” he wanted to keep things as fresh as possible.

“We recorded it live off the floor in about a day and mixed it in about a week. It’s pretty short and that’s how we wanted it. It’s sort of like Black Market Clash where the A-side is like an EP and the B-side has three remixes. It’s raw, dirty, off the floor, and nothing polished.”

The video for “Real Game Changer,” which includes some pretty psychedelic visuals by Arturo Brisindi (Hard Science) below is actually the take they used on the album which you can hear later this month.

Be sure to check out HILOTRONS tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 4) at Ritual Nightclub as part of the MEGAPHONO Festival along with Socalled, Buck N’ Nice, and Training Season.

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