An interview with Hooded Fang, playing NXNE as alter ego Phèdre on Friday and the Bruise Cruise Festival on Saturday

The guys from Hooded Fang looked exhausted. Those of you who have seen this Toronto indie band’s hyper-energetic shows and playful antics onstage would be surprised that these are the same people. But who could blame them? It’s only been two weeks since they got back from their cross-Europe tour and they’re getting hit with a slew of shows for North By Northeast – including a set as their alter-ego Phèdre for the Daps Records Showcase at Sneaky Dee’s on Friday and the Bruise Cruise Festival on Saturday – only to leave for a 20-hour car ride to Calgary for the Sled Island Festival on Monday. It makes me tired just saying it.

I met up with Hooded Fang/Phèdre members Daniel Lee and April Aliermo, fresh off their onstage interview at Hyatt Regency Hotel, NXNE headquarters, for a quick chat. Unaware that their band is getting internationally bigger, all they know is they’re just getting busier. And that’s not a bad thing.

SDTC: It wasn’t so long ago that Hooded Fang got together and now you guys are blowing up. How are you feeling right about now?

AA: It’s just sort of been go, go, go, no time to really stop and think about what’s happening and what we’re doing, but more time to think about your life, you know, you’re sitting in a car for so long. We feel good about everything but at this point when you’re constantly going and moving to the next thing you’re really just paying attention to what’s happening around you in the moment.

DL: …which I like. I like moving around a lot and having a set thing that I’m supposed to be doing all the time and you get to play music everyday. It’s fun.

SDTC: You’ve toured for a few weeks in the UK, but this is your first time playing across Europe. What was your favourite country?

AA: I really enjoyed being in Amsterdam because it was the London Calling festival so it was like everyone was excited to hear music and be there. Also I was just so amazed at all the bicycles and amazing parks. I really enjoyed eating in Germany.

SDTC: Any crazy stories?

DL: Nah. They’re all up in YouTube or PornTube or whatever already so we can’t really talk about it here. It’s too late now.

SDTC: What keeps you in Toronto, having been to all those different countries?

AA: There’s just this great community of artists and musicians that are constantly supporting and appreciating each other and being inspired by each other and collaborating.

DL: …or if not, just doing their own thing and doing it to the utmost.

AA: Omigod, and the food here is just so much better! We are lucky to have a diverse amount of food. No offense to England – they had amazing fish and chips, they had amazing mashed peas and really good cheese… But the choice of food? We’re spoiled with the choice of food we have in Toronto.

SDTC: Let’s talk about Daps Records – the label that you guys created together. What do you think separates your label from other labels?

DL: We don’t really know how other labels work. We just know about our own label – it’s the only thing we’ve ever done. And the reason why we started it is because we weren’t working with any other labels…

AA: It’s also because we love so many kinds of music and we wanted to put it out there. We were making our own tunes and we were just putting it out ourselves and there was a lot of music in the city and people we knew whose music we loved and wanted to get out there… As far as the range of music, it’s reflective of us and the music we appreciate and like. With us, we’re fans of a lot of different sounds.

SDTC: So how did your new band Phèdre come about?

DL: It was just a recording thing, we were just making songs a few summers ago and it was just really carefree and we put these songs together and sat on it for a while and then we were like, ‘Oh, our label’s in a pretty good moment right now and we got shit under control, let’s release this and put out a video.’

SDTC: How would you describe Phèdre to people who have never heard it before?

DL: It’s got some dance and skewed pop in it – things that have influenced us throughout our lives – anything from Iggy Pop to hip-hop to beats of different kinds, pop music and then thrown through this dreamy world that we want it to be, a fantasy world that we want it to be.

SDTC: Is that real honey in the “In Decay” music video?

DL: Yeah, it’s real honey. It’s fresh, Ontario-made.

AA: We actually envisioned us in an entire vat of honey but because of budget restrictions we had to settle for a jug of honey.

DL: But that’s the thing, as an artist we have these fantasies that you want to do and you just have to get as close to that fantasy as you can which is kind of the idea of the project.

SDTC: We want to know your secret. Personally, I get my energy from Red Bull and candy. With all these shows and touring and multiple projects you’re juggling, where do you get all your energy?

AA: For me it’s sleep and adrenaline.

DL: Well, I tried that 5-hour energy thing, I took a couple sips off it the other day for the first time and it was actually really awesome. But other than that you kind of just cruise through it. You ride the wave, you get energy, then you go down, then you get more energy. You can’t really fight it, if you have something to do, you just go and do it. There’s no thinking about it.

SDTC: Will it be your first time playing on a ship this Saturday on the Bruise Cruise?

DL: Yeah, we’ve never done it before.

AA: I hope I don’t barf.

SDTC: If you were to play inside/outside/on top of any thing or location anywhere around the world, where or what would it be?

DL: Probably on a cloud.

AA: I was gonna say hovercraft.

DL: Like IN the clouds, you know how you always imagine clouds to be a solid, soft structure?

AA: I had a dream once when I was little – this is actually one of my vivid childhood dreams – where my family and I were driving in our Toyota Celica and all of a sudden it started rising up into the sky and hanging off the clouds with candy and toys and we just started grabbing them and bringing them into the car. I think that playing on a cloud with like whatever the audience wants dangling from the clouds would be ideal. We could have like martinis, rolled up joints, pizza…

~ Desiree Gamotin

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