As an Israeli musician growing up outside of Tel Aviv, there is this universal dream to trade in the rural setting for the White City’s immersive urban music scene. 9,215 kilometers away, a small-town Canadian musician from Brooklin, Ontario had a similar dream.
“At the time, I resented growing up in the country. I wanted to be in town with my friends, making music and skateboarding,” says Taylor Kirk, leader of the Canadian Gothic folk band Timber Timbre.
Kirk received his first guitar as a 13th birthday present from his parents. But even before that point, music was certainly not an alien concept to the young Ontarian.
Kirk played trumpet in school, sang in the choir, and his father was an avid drummer.
“There was always a drum set around,” Kirk recounts.
Before picking up and heading to the big city permanently (Montreal in his case), Kirk spent some time playing and recording music in a timber-framed cabin in the woods, which eventually led to the moniker for his band.
It was only after Montreal musician Simon Trottier invited Kirk to play a show with him in “La Belle Province” that Kirk finally started to realize his big city dreams.
“We hit if off right away. Then I hit it off with other local musicians. And before I knew it, I was part of my very own Montreal- based group.”
From that point on, Taylor Kirk and the members of Timber Timbre hit the ground running, and have yet to stop: they are Juno Award nominees, their ethereal songs have made it into Netflix hits like Breaking Bad
and The Good Wife
, and they recently released their newest album, Sincerely
, Future Pollution
, which reveals a more synth-centric side to the band.
With regard to the album’s vision, Kirk admits, “Initially, I imagined an even greater departure sonically. I was hoping to make something very electronic that utilized drum machines and automated effects...something fun that people could dance to.”
While Kirk might not have achieved the up-tempo dance feel he set out to capture – after accepting that “words like ‘fun’ and ‘danceable’ simply were not a part of [his lexicon]” – what remained were the artifacts of that: a few slightly more upbeat songs, significant use of synthesizers, and a familiar haunting quality to match Sincerely
, Future Pollution
’s dystopian themes.
It came as no surprise to find out that the all-too-real dystopian narrative tying the album together was inspired by the musical score of a cinematic science fiction classic: Blade Runner
. The Philip K. Dick adaptation spawned Kirk’s dialogue with the future, encouraging the creation of his “collections” as a response to the happenings in the world around him.
One important world event that affected the album significantly – both directly in its creative agenda and indirectly due to corresponding timelines – was the US election.
“At the time, the discussion about the US was unavoidable. Everyone was talking about it and there was this constant sense of malaise and anxiety about what was going on, which premised the whole writing procedure for me,” Kirk says.
As if the track title “Western Questions” didn’t give it away, Kirk’s feelings about the state of the US during, and as a result of, last November’s election are evident in the lyrics: “Hollywood halo, the UFO light oozing from every screen / Western questions, desperate elections, campaign Halloween.”
Haunted campaigns and alien lights paint an eerie reality that takes the most imaginative 20th century sci-fi narratives and suddenly brings them to life.
“When I went back to look at ‘Western Questions’ afterwards,” says Kirk, “I realized that it was such a loaded song – there was so much information in it, which was not necessarily deliberate. However, the song had a different weight to it after the [US] election.”
While “Western Questions” addresses the United States in a more deliberate manner, Timber Timbre’s frontman found that following the political events, “a lot of the songs felt more politically charged even though they were written prior to the real ‘madness’ unfolding.”
While Kirk alludes to the dizzying dystopian state of the US, he views the contents of the album on a broader sphere.
“To me, the album is about utter confusion, chaos, and disillusionment with the political happenings around us. Those are my impressions of global politics, and certainly, Israel is no exception to that.”
The Canadian band is heading to Israel this week, and it’s not their first time here either. After much debate, they arrived in Tel Aviv to play at the Barby in 2015.
“It was really difficult to sort out whether or not we were comfortable enough to come and play,” Kirk shares. “Music groups take a lot of heat for booking shows in Israel.”
This summer’s Radiohead concert at Yarkon Park is a perfect example.
“The ‘heat’ made the show even more powerful and I am so grateful we made the right choice to come. The band is really, really excited to return this month.”
Timber Timbre opened their last show with Tel Aviv’s post-punk surf rock quintet Bones Garage, and Kirk has invited them back to open their upcoming encore at the Barby on August 30. Even with a repeat opener, the band is “setting out to visit new territories with this tour,” Kirk says.
Something old, something new. Same goes for the material they will be playing; Kirk promises a blend of the new album and older fan favorites. “We want to service the record, but we also want to give the audience a taste of everything.”
So what’s next for Timber Timbre? “Some quiet time would be nice to work on other respective endeavors,” Kirk grins.
“It was only once I left Ontario that I gained an appreciation for the solitude that I grew up in.” And suddenly in that slight smile, the big city fame fades from Taylor Kirk’s eyes and the small-town skateboarding Canuck reemerges.For more info on Timber Timbre concert at the Barby Club on August 30, visit www.barby.co.il