Hill & The Sky Heroes
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Hill & The Sky Heroes

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR
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Hill and the Sky Heroes

11:11 (PuckEye/EMI)

At this early point in her career, the CV of 24-year-old Toronto singer Hill Kourkoutis relies mostly on her associations with others: as a video director (Sass Jordan, Mother Mother) and a touring musician (The Weeknd, Tara Slone). Her debut album is produced by guitarist Adrian Eccleston (Drake, Nelly Furtado) and features co-writes with Serena Ryder and several other industry heavy hitters. Little of that matters once you hear her open her mouth: she’s got a ballsy, bluesy voice she places inside what she calls “alien surf rock,” but which is actually a noir-ish cabaret pop that goes for glossy production and yet is a tad too weird and dark to ever crack a radio playlist — and more power to it. Her closest comparison point as a singer is Alison Mosshart of the Kills and The Dead Weather, though Kourkoutis clearly has her own game going on. The only serious flaw with 11:11 is that it overstays its welcome, and all the best songs are front-loaded off the top. Yet that doesn’t mean Hill and the Sky Heroes aren’t the most promising new Canadian artist you’re likely to hear so far this year.

Download: There’s a Lie on Your Pillow, Rent an Ocean, In Retrospect (You Were the Asshole) - GuelphMercury.com - by Michael Barkley



NXNE – LIVE REVIEW
Buying Shots for Bands
June 23, 2012

Hill & The Sky Heroes – 8:00PM @ El Mocambo (main floor)
June 13, 2012

Toronto band Hill & The Sky Heroes had the opening slot of Wednesday night, so it was understandable that the El Mocambo was more than a little sparse when the sextet first graced the stage, though the crowd continued to grow as their set progressed.
Killer front-woman Hill Kourkoutis was flanked by The Sky Heroes: hard-rocker Donna Grantis (guitar) and soul woman Saidah Baba Talibah (keys, vocals) at the front of the stage, with the boys Mike Olsen (keys), Lucas Silveira (bass) and Roger Travassos (drums) bringing up the rear. Self-proclaiming their style as “alien surf rock,” there was also a little bit of dancey-soul thrown in to the mix, especially the few times that Talibah let it belt.

Having just released their record 11:11 the day before, Kourkoutis made a lot of effort to connect with the audience, bantering away and inviting them to come up closer. While many of their songs, such as “In Retrospect (You Were the Asshole),” edged into the “wailing angry girl rock” genre, there were some, such as stand-out track with the lyrics “I can’t seem to love you the way I want to” that showed some real depth and emotion. In addition to their cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You,” the obvious highlight was the full-band kazoo solo that closed out their set. It was a pretty entertaining way to kick off a great night – and week – of music. | CD
- BuyingShotsForBands.com


June 12, 2012

Music Psychos
Live Review
Posted by Kanae Doi

Hills & The Sky Heroes: CD release party at Drake Hotel Underground

Toronto 'alien surf rock' band, Hill & The Sky Heroes, packed the Drake Hotel Underground on Monday, June 11th for their CD release party for the new full album,11:11.

The frontwoman, Hill Kourkoutis's presence on the stage made her the centre of the attention; Being pleasant to both eyes and ears, while a number of shooting stars shed lights over on her, Kourkoutis showcased her majestic and hauling vocal along with the retro 60's surf rock tunes, such as A Bitch Like Me and Doctor, Doctor. Their sound was right up my alley as they are reminiscent of my favourite band of all time, Go!Go!7188.
Kourkoutis also gave a 'special treat' to the audience, bringing guest singers Serena Ryder and Damhnait Doyle on stage. Their beautiful vocal unisons echoed in the air.

Slow emotive ballad tune, Love isn't Safe, stole my attention. Kourkoutis poured her heart out. The plaintive feeling was contagious throughout the venue. I haven’t seen many singers who can transfer the emotion to the audience so well.
Hill & The Sky Heroes closed the show on a high note, The Better Way, brightened up the atmosphere with the gigantic sousaphone and 'kazoorachestra', a bunch of friends and audience jumped on the stage and joined the band with kazoos. It was the sexiest kazoo performance that I've seen in my life.

Their encore was accompanied by cheeky stories behind the songs, causing giggles from the audience. During the last two dark tunes, In Retrospect (You were the asshole) and There 's A Lie On Your Pillow, ( I think it was the last song, but I might be wrong) , Kourkoutis Bawled out from the bottom of her lungs.

If you missed out this show, don't worry. Hill & The Sky Heroes will be performing during NXNE on Wednesday, June 13th at El Mocambo (main floor) 8p.m.

- Music Psychos - Live Review by Kanae Doi


SHAKEFIRE.COM

Hill & The Sky Heroes: 11:11 (2012)
Album Review

GRADE IT!
Artist: Hill & The Sky Heroes Album: 11:11 Members: Hill Kourkoutis Genre: Other, Rock
Label: PuckEye Records/EMI Music Canada Tracks: 11 Release Date: June 19, 2012 Discs: 1
Notes: Import Rating: 3.41 (out of 4.00) GRADE: B+

Submitted by
Lee Roberts
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ok, according to iTunes playlist, Hill & the Sky Heroes is alien surf rock. I’m not sure what alien surf rock is, actually it’s the first time I’ve even heard of it as a genre for music, but I can say that I like it whatever it is. Could be though I just like Hill & the Sky Heroes and because they are an alien surf rock band that in turn makes me like the genre. Not that it really matters what genre it is, what does matter is the music being played, and that music is a bundle of fun to listen to.

Opening with the song “Beam Me Up”, I wasn’t exactly sure that I had heard what I did so I hit the replay button so I could get another shot at what was being said. Hill Kourkoutis, yes that’s her name, opens this song with vocals that sound like it will be on the line of alternative rock but then as the lyrics progress I was able to hear that she isn’t going to be the usual rocker. The lyrics to her songs have this edge that make them have a meaning, one saying I’m going to do it my way so get out of my way. She has a sultry and sexy voice that is a little hypnotizing when I was listening to her sing. Listening to Hill Kourkoutis sing was like listening to the sirens of lore but with this rebellious edge.

I was taken with the songs right off because of the edge and energy they have but when I heard what sounded like a kazoo being played in one song I was hooked. Now I don’t know if it was an actual kazoo but it had the sound and it went perfectly with the melody of the instrumentals and vocals. It’s the rebellious sound and edge that I like about these songs and how they are played. They are not chipper, happy, I’m in love songs, nor are they the depressed I hate the world songs, they’re angry, I’m not going to take it from you or anyone else songs. The anger can be heard in the short, hard beats of the drums as well as in the quick notes being played on the guitar. However it’s the vocals and the lyrics that give the songs their power and make them worth listening to.
- Shakefire.com


Hill & The Sky Heroes

Singer-songwriter Hill Kourkoutis has a few tricks up her sleeve that she's about to reveal on June 12th, 2012. She is a filmmaker and producer (she has directed music videos for Serena Ryder, Sass Jordan, and Mother Mother) but this time, it is not a movie that we should expect from her but rather a new album; it's called 11:11. Hill 's friends from The Sky Heroes play for her back-up on it. Eclectic, seductive, haunting, whimsical and multi-dimensional rock and roll come to mind when describing her music but Hill has herself also used the terms sci-fi and alien-surf-rock to qualify some of her songs! For more info on this artist and tour dates,
visit: www.HillAndTheSkyHeroes.com

Interview by: Valerie Bastien

Valerie: Please introduce yourself! Hill: I am Hill Kourkoutis, an alien/surf/rocker who fronts Hill & The Sky Heroes!

Valerie: You are a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, filmmaker and producer; which one of these skills are you the most passionate about?

Hill: For me, music and film exist symbiotically. I cannot create in either medium without the influence of the other. When I write, play or produce a song, I always see a scene or a picture unraveling in my mind and when I’m working on a script or storyline, there is always a song accompanying the scene that is being written. The two ultimately unite when I direct music videos! I am hoping as The Sky Heroes project develops, that I can further amalgamate the two. Music and film coexist and are codependent in my world.

Valerie: Tell us about your back-up band The Sky Heroes; how do you bring out the best out of each other in a writing or live context?

Hill: The Sky Heroes are the integral facet of what this project embodies. I made the decision to become a solo artist after not being able to maintain a band dynamic that was truly synergistic. I wanted to find a way to collaborate as a solo artist but still maintain that band dynamic I longed for. There is an energy present in a band dynamic that strengthens what you are trying to convey when that message is delivered collectively within a community. The Sky Heroes consist of my dearest friends and collaborators. Artists I have played for, produced or written with. We have toured together and grown together musically and personally throughout various projects. I think our history together, our mutual passion for art, our respect for each other and a shared outlook on life contributes to bringing out the magic of what The Sky Heroes are developing into. A few of the current reoccurring members include Saidah Baba Talibah, Lucas Silveira of The Cliks and Donna Grantis but there are dozens of us coming together to play!

Valerie: Your new album 11:11 will be coming out on June12th, 2012. Why is this album special to you?

Hill: This is probably the first album out of all my projects that I am truly proud of. 11:11 was a concept seven years in the making. It is a reflection of coming to terms with being true...with being human. In essence it is a coming of age record, the closing of a chapter before I dive into this next phase in my life. The wonder behind it came through collaborations with my fellow Sky Heroes, who were a major part of my personal journey of discovery. To have the people I love, respect and collaborate with come together to help make this concept a reality makes it truly special to me.

Valerie: Explain how you chose the title 11:11.

Hill: 11:11 is often referred to as the divine number of synchronicity. When we see 11:11 anywhere, we are forced to pay attention and go with the flow of what is being presented to us. Around the time that I started thinking about what this project would be, I began to see the number 11 more often. As I came closer to completing this record, I was seeing it everywhere from clocks, to receipts, to addresses, etcetera. The title of the record is an homage to trusting your path and a reminder to live freely in a mome - Voice Yourself - Valerie Bastien


Hill & the Sky Heroes '11:11' (album stream)

Exclaim! Hill & the Sky Heroes - 11:11
June 4, 2012

By Alex Hudson

Hill & the Sky Heroes recently announced their numerically oriented debut album, 11:11, which is slated to come out June 12. Before Toronto songwriter/artist Hill Kourkoutis and her collaborators release the 11-song album, you can stream the whole thing right here at Exclaim.ca.

The album features appearances from a few familiar names, including Saidah Baba Talibah, Martha & the Muffins, Serena Ryder, Damhnait Doyle, and Drake/the Weeknd contributor Adrian Eccleston.
A press release peculiarly describes the album's sound as "alien surf rock." So what exactly does this mean? Well, the record is made up of pop rock tracks that are infused with "classic sci-fi sounds," "the wondrous psychedelia of old Hollywood films," and sun-soaked California surf music.

The album follows the prior 11EP, which came out on November 11 of last year (which was 11/11/11, if you're keeping track). Take a listen to 11:11 and catch Hill & the Sky Heroes at the Drake Underground in Toronto on June 11.

11:11
1. Beam Me Up 1.40
2. There's A Lie On Your Pillow 4.22
3. Love Isn't Safe 3.55
4. The Better Way 5.58
5. Rent An Ocean 3.19
6. In Retrospect (You Were The Asshole) 5.37
7. No Man's Land 4.02
8. Doctor, Doctor 4.50
9. The Human Spectrum 2.18

- Exclaim.ca


Jun 14, 2012
NXNE Day One Show Reviews | Plaid Magazine

Hill & The Sky Heroes at the Hash Tag Gallery & Hate Gang at the Rochester
Review and Photos by Adam Steel

I was quite fortunate to receive the inside scoop that not one, not two...but four secret bands would be playing an intimate and undisclosed set at Hash Tag Gallery on NXNE's first evening of weeklong festivities. Arriving well before the 7:00pm deadline—after which the doors would be sealed shut (!!!)—this invite-only event proved a perfectly mellow start to the devilishly decadent evening ahead. Moosehead, un-chilled wine and sumptuous rosehip concoctions were on the menu, as music enthusiasts crashed out on blankets and throw pillows for an informal acoustic performance by Hill & The Sky Heroes, the solo project of Hill Kourkoutis, whose gnarly style and impressive pedigree (having worked with The Weeknd, - Plaid Magazine


Now Magazine
12-06-08

Hill and the Sky Heroes

Win tickets to see them, June 11 at the Drake Underground!
SPONSORED BY Hill and the Sky Heroes

Award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, producer and filmmaker, Hill Kourkoutis, captures that ?bildungsroman' spirit in her new solo album, 11:11. In her own 24-year long passage, Kourkoutis has established a reputation in both the Canadian music and film industries that most artists struggle to achieve in a lifetime. As a hired-gun she's toured and played with The Weeknd, Tara Slone, Saidah Baba Talibah, The Cliks, and Martha & The Muffins to name a few. On the other side of the lens, Kourkoutis has directed videos for Sass Jordan, Serena Ryder, Mother Mother, Alex Cuba and others. With the release of her new album, this young multi-talent is poised to reach even greater heights, drawing on her multifaceted perspective to seamlessly fuse together her vision. The debut record by Hill & The Sky Heroes is 11-tracks of catchy, spirited songs—some moving, some electrifying—evolving over seven years of Kourkoutis' personal journey, but resonating with the individual story of every listener. “It was about feeling alien and coming to terms with being real,” Kourkoutis explains “Art helped me embrace the foreign feeling of being human—and taking in the dramedy of life, the beauty of the smallest thing without having to completely deconstruct reality.” Themes of alienation and connection, conflict and harmony are reflected in the album with sincerity and maturity that are tied very closely to the path that led to the creation of the record itself. The album progresses naturally, with each song depicting a hyper-intelligent, intuitive, and cerebral girl-come-woman in her metamorphosis: a musical journey of self-discovery beginning at the fragile age of 17.

Questions? Email contest@nowtoronto.com Limit one contest entry per person

Contest closes Jun 03, 2012

PRIZE DETAILS
pair of tickets
- Now Magazine 12-06-08 - Contests Now


Artist: Hill and the Sky Heroes, “Doctor, Doctor”

Album: 11:11

Hill Kourkoutis (singer, songwriter, multi- instrumentalist, producer and filmmaker) is something of a staple in the Canadian industry. Having worked with everyone from The Weeknd to Martha & The Muffins, her voice on this track reveals exactly why. Some people just simply have IT. Everything from her lyrics and their delivery to her overall aesthetic is just so, so bang’n. [They were part of the Canadian contingent to Singapore for the Music Matters conference, which is where I've been over the last week. They did very, very well! - AC]
Sounds like: Sexy soul content. - Alan Cross - Professional Music Geek


June 22-June 29, 2012

On The Beat

Heroric Hill
By Kerry Doole

HILL AND THE SKY HEROES: Very few young local artists can boast the kind of significant peer respect earned by HILL KOURKOUTIS over the past five years.

She’s a multi-faceted talent as a singer/songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker, and seems poised for stardom with her long-awaited full-length debut album, 11:11, recorded with her band The Sky Heroes. She launched the CD with a well-attended Drake Underground show the evening before its release, rocking out with fierce abandon. The all-star group for the gig included backing singer/keyboardist SAIDAH BABA TALIBAH, lead guitarist DONNA GRANTIS and bassist LUCAS SILVEIRA of THE CLIKS, while Hill fans SERENA RYDER and DAMHNAIT DOYLE guested on one song apiece. On the album, Hill collaborates with the likes of MARTHA & THE MUFFINS, DOC, and Damhnait Doyle, but both on record and live is never overshadowed by the big-name collaborators. A reference point for her sound would be DALBELLO (another supporter), given her powerful voice and songs exploring the sexual dynamic, while some tunes had a bracing surf-rock vibe. Here’s a band ready for prime time now.

- Kerry Doole


12-06-29 11:05
AMSnob's Music: Hill & the Sky Heroes: "11:11" (album review)


Hill & the Sky Heroes: "11:11" (album review)

After spending years supporting and touring with a veritable who's who of Canadian rock, Hill Kourkoutis is stepping out on her own. Recording as Hill & the Sky Heroes, the Toronto singer releases her debut album 11:11 on June 12th.

Kourkoutis isn't afraid of mixing up genres. She bounces around from smoky lounge ("Love Isn't Safe") to twangy meandering roots ("The Better Way") to blues rock ("In Retrospect") complete with booming vocals.

What really strikes you when you listen is Kourkoutis' personality. She's bold and seemingly larger than life. One moment she's playfully sultry and seductive ("There's a Lie On Your Pillow"), the next she's grabbed you by the throat, poised to kick your ass ("A Bitch Like Me").

She's part Canadian Florence Welch, part "Only Happy When It Rains"-era Shirley Manson, with a dash of Lindi Ortega to keep things grounded. Heck, when Kourkoutis gets really riled up, like on "No Man's Land" and "The Human Spectrum", she even pushed Polly Harvey territory.

11:11 is as intense, fearsome, compelling, and thoroughly enjoyable a debut album as you are likely to hear this year. One question remains though: where has Hill been all my life?

Hill & the Sky Heroes play the Drake Underground on June 11th.

Best tracks: "A Bitch Like Me", "The Better Way" Track listing for
11:11:

Beam Me Up
There's a Lie On Your Pillow
Love Isn't Safe
The Better Way
Rent An Ocean
In Retrospect (You Were the Asshole)
No Man's Land
Doctor, Doctor
The Human Spectrum
A Bitch Like Me
Starseed

Follow @tosnob 1,236 followers Disclaimer and song removal
We do our best to ensure that all MP3s posted are approved by either the band, its management, publicity agent, or record label. If you feel your song has been used inappropriately please email us here and we will remove it.
If you like an MP3, buy the album.
- Snobs Music


Posted on April 13, 2012 by glasspaperweight

reviewed by Michael Thomas

Hill & the Sky Heroes describe their genre of music as “alien surf rock.” At first I thought that couldn’t possibly make sense, but it turns out it kind of does. I’ll get to that.

The “Hill” part of the band has apparently been cutting her teeth playing with a whole bunch of acts, including such talents as Saidah Baba Talibah, Martha & the Muffins and the Weeknd, to name a few. But now her band is ready to kick it up a notch.

With such a majestic name (“Sky Heroes” made me think of Spyro the Dragon for some reason) you might expect a soaring pop symphony. But not so. When a band calls themselves “alien surf rock,” you’re going to damn well get alien surf rock.

So what the hell is it, anyways? Well, a few of the songs on this EP start with keyboard notes that sound like the sound of an alien approaching in an old sci-fi film. Once the songs gets going though, you can expect some very dance-able bass groove and some cool guitar.

Despite the weird sci-fi vibe to the album, all of the songs are about love in some form. “The Moon” is a simple song about envy, expressed in not so subtle terms (one line goes “I’m jealous of the girl sittin’ on your face”). You can expect the aforementioned bass groove and interspersed guitar.

“Blind as the Light in the Night,” besides having a cool internal rhyme, is a slightly slower song, which also seems to be about love but ends up sounding a little twisted.

“My Little Runaway” is a song sure to get people dancing at a show. The rhythm is frantic and the guitar is at is best here. It’s also quite playful, such as when Hill sings “What’s that I saw?/Je ne comprends pas.”

The EP ends with “Doctor, Doctor” which sounds like a breakup song, but knowing this band, it’s not typical sappy fluff. The echo-y vocals give the song a surreal feeling, making for a good ending.

Hill & the Sky Heroes are to release a full-length album on June 12th of this year, so we’ll see what this band does. This EP is a solid start, though.

Top Track: “The Moon”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good) - Grayowl Point


HILL & THE SKY HEROES play the Drake Hotel Friday (November 11). See listing.

NOW Rating N N N
Note: Also Received Critics Pick that week for shows to see

Disc Review

Hill & the Sky Heroes - 11 EP
(PuckEye/EMI)
By Benjamin Boles

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Hill Kourkoutis onstage playing keys, bass and guitar with acts like the Weeknd, the Cliks, Saidah Baba Talibah, Tara Slone and many others, but she was usually backing up other musicians rather than taking the spotlight herself. Given her eclectic resumé, it’s no surprise that her solo tunes are a similar grab bag of influences, mixing surf, pop, soul, glam and dub into a deceptively cohesive sound.

At only four songs, this EP feels like a tease, and not because of the consistently sultry and seductive vocals. You get a sense of her sound, but not enough to tell if she’s going the mainstream pop/rock route or if the more esoteric futuristic garage rock part of her personality will come to dominate. Hopefully, it’s the latter, since Toronto’s got more than enough straightforward rock bands. It’s much more refreshing hearing someone try to drag surf and garage into the 21st century.

Top track: Doctor, Doctor
NOW | November 10-17, 2011 | VOL 31 NO 11
- Now Magazing


Hill & The Sky Heroes (Hill Kourkoutis, Donna Grantis and Saidah Baba Talibah) play for the first time at The Drake Hotel in Toronto. - Electric Light Media / Thursday, September 15th, 2011


Several filmed mini interviews ... click on the link to view - Uncensored Interview 2008 NYC


It’s not surprising that this strikingly unique duo is making their mark on Toronto and New York City’s music scenes. Hill, who started her first band at the age of 12, is no stranger to the rock music stage. Having worked with some of Canada’s most respected writers, and playing guitar and bass with artists such as Tara Slone, Graph Nobel, Simon Wilcox, Andrea England and Jeen O’Brien, this glamorous little rocker baby is propelling quite a career at the ripe old age of 19.

Paoli, who is best known for making his guitar sound like anything but, is the male alter-ego of the band named after a famous Lichtenstein painting. He studied jazz and arranging at Toronto’s Humber College, moved towards a more unorthodox experimental approach (reminiscent of his heroes, Johnny Greenwood [Radiohead] and Graham Coxon [Blur]), then electronica and country before finally Drowning. Like his playing, which has gone through many evolutions to get to where it is, Dave jokes about his personal style and wardrobe, which looks like it has been through multiple revolutions, “if it breaks, I try to fix it myself”.

daveMost recently, Drowning Girl are being recognized for their unique writing style. When asked about what inspires their songs, Dave leans towards the idea of catharsis, and his frustration with the general mentality of the North American culture. He also stresses randomness and the importance of keeping everyone guessing. Hill, on the other hand leans towards channeling heartbreak and negative encounters, her own personal catharsis perhaps, while maintaining a level of ambiguity so that everyone can relate. It’s hard to believe that someone so young can come out and sing with such conviction and experience. There must be something profound hiding behind those big beautiful black locks and china doll eyes; whatever it is, she makes us all feel it too.

I asked Drowning Girl to take some time to think about their thoughts of the stage, their relationship and music in general.

What’s the difference between “drowning” Hill/Dave and downtime Hill/Dave?

HILL: I don’t think we’re THAT different. There are elements of our “downtime” incarnations that are carried with us on stage. In my moments of downtime, I could go through extremes of being extremely social and hyper to remaining static, simply living life as an observer. My absurd humor also isn’t really revealed to the public very often while I’m on stage.

DAVID: Totally different I think. I save up all my energy for stage. Maybe it’s adrenaline too. Off stage, I’m kinda sleepy, and I like watching TV shows. I don’t go drinking anymore if I’m not playing that night. But if I am relaxed, say in an enormous lazy boy with a huge Duvee, then I can make some jokes, or do some accents or something.

Do you leave yourself room for experimentation on stage?

HILL: It varies. For the most part when we’re on stage, in terms of the delivery of our performance, we’re just putting it all out there so we never really know how we’ll react or what we’ll be doing. On the other hand, our set is usually rehearsed a certain way and we generally don’t deviate musically from that very often.

DAVID: We have one tune that I leave a little uneasy called “In Retrospect (you were the asshole)”, There’s some main slide guitar bits I’ll always play, and a solo section, but I’ll try to leave the end verse open, to experiment with those chords, and let the magic happen. It’s the end of the set anyway, so the audience is beaten and battered to death with tight focused rock music, so a little looseness helps to ease them out of the show.

What musicians do you admire most?

HILL: So many musicians to admire. I go through phases of admiration but the artists that have stuck with me include Blondie, The Pixies, Sloan, Radiohead, Hawksley Workman, PJ Harvey, George Gershwin, Sheryl Crow and Janis Joplin (to name a few).

DAVID: I grew up with Radiohead and for a long time tried my best to be Johnny Greenwood. Graham Coxon from Blur was my other big influence at the time guitar playing became most important to me Andy Summers from the Police, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin for both his Rhythm and Lead stuff, Bob Dylan for his lyrics and nonchalance singing, The Divine Comedy for their brilliant lyrics and orchestral craft. Wilco for being Radiohead’s american/country counterpart really experimenting with sounds and pushing music so far.

If you weren¹t musicians, what would you be doing?

HILL: I’d be six feet under. Sorry…that was dramatic.

DAVID: Computer Programmer. I was the first kid on the block with an IBM 286.

What scares you most? Anything.

HILL: Judgment and abandonment. People and politics. S.A.R.S.

DAVID: People who treat this planet like it’s their own personal resource and simultaneously toilet bowl. Toxins, disease and super bugs that we brought upon ourselves. Political unrest, and unevenly distributed wealth.

Have you ever had anything unexpected happen on stage? If so, how did you deal with it?

HILL: Oh god, yes! I guess the most prominent occurrence is having your gear fail on you for no good reason. We’ve had amps and pedals failing, guitars and drum kits breaking. Sometimes I move around so much that I get light headed and am on the verge of tripping over myself or falling over. THAT’S embarrassing. How do I cope? Wing it! Keep doing your thing and figure it out once the song is over. The mishaps, ninety-seven percent of the time, are fixable.

DAVID: I did a jumpkick once, and had my eyes closed, when I opened them again, I was on my ass.

HILL: This girl also came on stage in a province in the Prairie’s once and ripped David’s shirt off. It was awesome.

What have you learned from sharing the stage with each other? When does it make the performance more difficult/easier?

HILL: I’ve learned so much from David. He’s not only an amazing musician but a unique character. I’ve been in many bands before but have never experienced quite a connection on and off stage as I have with this project. We respect each other highly and I think that heightens the chemistry and energy we have on stage. If anything, I’ve learned the importance of chemistry and the impact of having a high energy live show. It makes things more spontaneous and interesting. Naturally, this would make performing much easier. It becomes second nature in a way.

DAVID: Hill is a constant pro well beyond her years on this earth. She is the standard by which I judge everyone else I play with. There is a level of care and dedication to her art/craft that has taught me a lot, and made me more of a professional. We know when we hit the stage, there’s a job to be done, that can’t go awry…She takes pride in that, and so do I.

Do you ALWAYS get along?

HILL: Surprisingly yes (knock on freakin’ wood). Sure, we don’t agree on everything but that doesn’t mean these events have caused us not to get along. We have always handled these situations diplomatically and with open minds.

DAVID: So far so good.

What 3 words would best describe you?

HILL: Loyal, Neurotic, Workaholic

DAVID: Reliable, Absent Minded, Focused

~ all photos by: A. Janzen


For more on Drowning Girl,
www.myspace.com/drowninggirlmusic
www.myspace.com/hill - Sugarcain / April 15, 2007


When "Bang!" (Puck Eye Records, 2007), the debut album by Toronto's Drowning Girl, landed on my desk, I had no idea what to expect. I had heard only that they played "indie pop", so I guess I was envisioning something like Velocity Girl, perhaps with a cutesy Leslie Feist-like vocalist.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a smart, sophisticated, and above all assured album of melodic, emotive pop songs with an early new wave aesthetic.

Aside from the digital production and the ubiquitous sound compression, this album could have been released in 1980.

Most surprising is Hill Kourkoutis, the wunderkind songwriter, producer, vocalist and guitarist. Despite her tender years (she was born in 1988!), her singing reminds me strongly of Rough Trade's Carole Pope: smooth, sultry, and sexy, yet sensitive and willing to make herself vulnerable.

If you're looking for avant-garde stuff that stretches the limits of music, look elsewhere. Drowning Girl's range is well within the realm of the traditional guitar/bass/drums pop song, focusing its energy on strong songwriting and a tight, energetic performance.

On the pounding, fervent Machine, Kourkoutis channels her inner Dalbello, belting out lyrics such as, "All your sugar and cream inside my wet dream / I felt the pins and the prickling / All our bodies were burned away."

Dead Or Alive combines a playful swingtime beat with a plaintive progression of minor chords and a delightful chorus in the vein of "ba, ba-da-ba, ba ba".

Fishhook leans bluesy, combining minor-key riffs with an ultra-crisp 3/4-time beat and anguished lyrics like only a creative 20-year-old can muster: "Left here to plunge and combust / I could have choked; I should have bit the dust / I don't mind."

True to its name, Tragic Romantic is achingly sweet, trading ardor for despondence. It wouldn't sound out of place on The Cars' seminal "Candy-O". The cynic in you will try to dismiss this song as hopelessly cliche; but resist the cynicism and just delight in its refreshing sincerity.

"Bang!" keeps getting better as it charges along, striking more hits on the sparkly Sugar Bowl and the discordant Boys Underwear. In fact, the only weak point is the last track, an obligatory 'unplugged' song accompanied by acoustic guitar that feels a bit dispensible after the energetic succession that precedes it.

The album also keeps getting better with repeated playing. It jumps from high to high, demonstrating mastery of the pop form, lush instrumentation and a fun, authentic spirit that sustains the listener.

Drowning Girl plays the Rogers Spring Music Festival on May 10 at The Casbah, corner of King St. W. and Queen St. N. in Hamilton. - Raise The Hammer / By Ryan McGreal Published May 10, 2008


Ask a question for which the answer is all-too-obvious, and you'll end up getting, well, an obvious answer.


"So where'd you guys come up with the name of the band?" Doh! I really did pull a Homer with that one. "Lichtenstein, idiot," I think to myself. But she, the Hill Kourkoutis half of the band, smiles politely, anyway, and describes the epiphany, as it were, upon visiting a gallery in New York and standing in front of the original 1963 Drowning Girl.


Like Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl, which embodied many previous artistic spirits, but not necessarily replications, the Drowning Girl of Toronto paints a musical canvass that reminisces without reproducing. But then the club circuit in Toronto is already well on its way to knowing that.


The band has an opening gig for Tara Slone, and in fact playing with Tara Slone, at one of Toronto's newest additions to the club circuit of live music, Tattoo Rock Bar.


Tonight, January 23rd, Hill celebrates her birthday, and many would be freaked to learn that she's only just turned 20. Ryerson film student, formerly of Degrassi: The Next Generation, and co-fronting a band with an eight-track demo CD that you know is going somewhere real fast, she's achieving and burning ground like one of those browners you knew in high school who was probably destined to be named one of Canada's emerging leaders by the Globe and Mail. Yet – and here's the unassuming charm about it all – she's having fun, ostensibly without worrying what others think. And she's no browner.


She and the other 50 percent of Drowning Girl, David Paoli, met at a Starbucks and hit it off immediately. "We should check to see if Starbucks owes us any royalties," she jokingly remarks. "But yeah, that's where David and I started our experience as Drowning Girl."


They balance each other like shrimp and seafood sauce, and, in fact, are in some ways much like an old, married Lennon-McCartney couple.


Paoli is a thinking and articulate musician whose personal fluidity is as dynamic during a conversation as it is while performing on stage. Like most musicians, he feels the notes, and that is visually evident; but one can also see him thinking about the notes, almost analyzing the arrangement and considering how to improve it, or what it means at a particular moment. That doesn't happen too often.


Even in conversation, he's kind of, well, Renaissance.


Someone remarked to me, after hearing a couple of the songs from Bang, Drowning Girl's demo CD, that the band sounds like what a Toronto band ought to sound like.
I asked David what that meant to him and how he would interpret that comment. His response was cautionary, thoughtful and musically wise: he received the words as a sculptor uses clay – feeling, and thinking about each piece, looking to understand the components and the overall relationship. Pretty fucking heavy stuff, I know; but some people are like that. And it's not only refreshing, but cool, when you experience it and see it.


And that's one of the really unique features that puts Drowning Girl along its own trajectory: the complement of styles and personalities and spirits. That, plus the fact that they clearly love playing live.


Live music itself has made a Renaissance in recent years in this city. And someone like Hill Kourkoutis seems to have been born for that very purpose.


"It's an insane amount of emotions all at the same time," Hill explains. David describes Hill's vocal and visual performances as "heavy metal-Beyonce-disco". After watching Hill (both of them, in fact) come alive on stage, David, it could be said, is reserved in his description. Their energy is like envisioning Aristotle on speed.


I inform the duo that several GBA listeners described their music as "speaking", "ringing of a lot of different eras", and "embracing some interesting influences and successfully making them theirs". These comments were actual emails we at GBA received prior to the interview.


David responds: "We [musicians generally] have spent the last eight or so years re-hashing things….It's all about developing the sound," he points out.


And what contributes to that development? "New media and new formats," he says, "will certainly continue contributing to the evolution of music."

"But for that next step to occur, we need to let it all go," Hill explains. "People's true eccentricities need to emerge. It's a really exciting time"


Lichtenstein is credited for having fostered an inspiration of painting that has become hallmark in North America, both for what it reflects and what is reflected by it. Like Lichtenstein himself, bands like Drowning Girl know exactly the sort of questions to ask: how do I become inspired by that thing without becoming that thing?


Drowning Girl's answer? Bang! Get it?


Go to www.drowninggirl.com for more. Once there, or in the club with them, pay particular attention to songs like Bang, Fish Hook and Caught by the Rope. With those in particular you'll begin to understand the elements of oral and visual that these performers cleverly sew together.
(Photo Credit: Josee Scalabrini) - An Unusual World/Wednesday, 13 February, 2008


Hill

At a relatively young age, Hill Kourkoutis has already made waves in both the film and music industries, as an artist and producer. Hill talked to theMovementz about kicking off her solo project, Hill and the Sky Heroes.



How did you first get involved in music?

I first got involved in music at the age of two when I snuck on stage andrattled a tambourine for a Greek wedding band at a function of some sort(baptism? dance?...who can remember?). At that moment...I knew.

I understand that you also were a film studies major and you havedirected music videos for other Canadian artists. Which is more important toyou, music or film, (or both)?

Yes, I attended Ryerson University for Film Studies and have directed somemusic videos. It would be really difficult to choose one over the other asthey coexist symbiotically for me. I have been blessed in this life withtwo passions that have the capacity to fuse together and enhance oneanother, whether one medium is dominant over the other in any givencircumstance. In most scenarios, the aid of one is needed alongside theother in order to complete the "thought" or "the piece". Thus, they bothequally as important!

How would you describe your sound to those who haven't heard it before?

The sound varies greatly depending on the project I'm involved in or themood I'm in. I find that these days I am leaning more towards analternative folk rock vibe but also have had a 10 year inclination to writepop/rock songs. For now, in this present moment, lets call the soundalternative/folk/pop/rock/surf/death country. Or Alt/Pop/Rock forsimplicity's sake! Haha

Where do you get your song writing inspiration from?

The inspiration can come at any given nanosecond. When I feel inspired oneof three things could have occurred. A) An event unfolds that has eitherhurt or pissed myself or a person that I care about off, B) I witnesssomething sublime, bizarre, miraculous or a combination of them allsubconsciously or consciously, C) Love and the Battle of the Unrequited.Those are some examples but it all depends on the process and I've neverwritten a song the same way twice so it¹s always different!

Are any of your songs inspired by an interesting story that you'd like toshare?

Many have been but I will share my most memorable. The most vividsongwriting experience I had, I can¹t even recall in great detail. I justremember that I woke up in the middle of the night after having a vividdream...a sublime image unfolded before my minds eye. I was still in thatsleep state and pretty much wrote this entire song via stream ofconsciousness in metaphor. The song had a powerful impact on me as it feltand ended up being prophetic in a way...but it¹s more interesting to me astime passes because its meaning has become more clear to me now than everbefore. It was one of those rare cases where a song was in me and it wroteitself in a matter of minutes. It's called The Shoreline. It's my personalUniversal guide anthem.

Who are your favourite artists and how do you think they haveinfluenced your music (if they have)?

My favourite artists and influences are still being discovered! Choosing afew would be like choosing your favourite child and that would be wrong soI'll throw a FEW of them out there: The Cardigans, Mary Margaret O'Hara, ThePixies, Blondie, Beck, The Cure, The Velvet Underground, Hawksley Workman,Radiohead, The Beatles, etc...Either for their ability to write a greatsong, put on an amazing performance, find a great sound or all of the above.

How do you feel about the music scene that you're in?

I believe that the Toronto music scene is flourishing on all fronts. It isconstantly inspiring and there is just so much talent emerging at a rapidrate in so many various genres. I'm very proud of the art coming out ofToronto, these days. Great artists, bands, songwriters...a really excitingtime.

What is the best part about your job?

Being able to invent things for a living! (songs, films, stories, sounds,you name it) It's bound to keep things interesting...and to be able topursue your passion is a dream in reality.

Any news/upcoming events we should know about?

Not anything in particular at this present moment...but my new project Hilland the Sky Heroes is currently in development and there will be shows andnew music in the very near future. So look out for that!

Where would people go to purchase your music and/or learn more aboutyou?

Hill and the Sky Heroes has a Facebook and MySpace page. A bunch of thesongs I've written or bands I have been in can also be found on MySpace. http://www.myspace.com/hill is probably the go to place, though. So check that out first! - The Movementz /Written by Lia Karidas/ Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Music
Catching up with Hill Kourkoutis

Posted by Guest Contributor / March 7, 2009
0 Comments

Hill KourkoutisHill Kourkoutis is taking a bit of a self-described 'breather' right now. Since her last project (Drowning Girl) has gone on hiatus, she has set her sights on her solo project - which has been dubbed Hill and the Sky Heroes. She also frequently writes for other artists, plays guitar for Tara Slone (formerly of Joydrop), works part-time at Toronto production company The Field, and is finishing up her fourth year at Ryerson's Image Arts program. Oh, and she just directed the music video for "All For Love", the next single of fellow singer-songwriter and Torontonian, Serena Ryder.

Yes, I did say a breather.

"For me, I feel most fulfilled when I'm doing everything I possibly can with anything that inspires me," Hill explains. "I don't think it's a conscious decision. As soon as something resonates with me, I'll get out there and do it. Most of the time I'm thrown into these situations before I'm ready for them, so it forces me to be comfortable with them and really try to learn, and try to do it as best as I can."

Evidently, Hill is a pretty fast learner. Receiving her first guitar at age seven, Hill formed her first band at age twelve. She then spent those ever-formative high school years in a few different bands (and landing an acting gig on the Family channel's Radio Free Roscoe), writing songs and playing gigs, before graduating and forming Drowning Girl in 2005. Since then, Hill has played with many respected artists - Simon Wilcox, Graph Nobel and Hunter Valentine, to name a few - and is a regular at the Canadian Idol songwriting camps.

"Writing for other artists is great because you get to use a part of your creativity that you wouldn't necessarily use for yourself, so it's cool to be able to sit down and write an R&B song. As far as playing with other artists, there's something about the energy of playing live that I love and that's something I could do forever. You have to connect to all these people, and you have to be resonating on the same level."

Such an abundance of experience would suggest Hill's age to be considerably more than her twenty-one years. Her discerning, slightly surreal lyrics too suggest the mind and knowledge of someone who is decidedly much older. "Over the years, I've learned how to channel experiences and really own them to a place where I knew I could talk about them, and where it was cathartic for me, but still keep them ambiguous enough so that anybody could gain an experience from it." Her growth has not gone unnoticed, as Hill has garnered a respectable number of accolades - not the least of which includes the 2007 Canadian Radio Star National Songwriting Competition, for which she was the regional and national winner.

Hill Kourkoutis

Though she is originally from the hamlet of Greenwood, just outside Ajax, Hill moved with her family to the west end of Toronto nearly four years ago - and has been immersed in the artist culture of the city ever since. "Toronto has such a tight knit artistic community. Obviously people will have their favorites and their cliques, but for the most part it's a very small town and everyone knows each other and everyone supports each other." And unlike some artists who may long to escape the confines of the city in order to create, she finds Toronto to be endlessly inspiring, "Every time I walk down the street I'll see something that I want to turn into a film, or a music video, or a song."

Even with so much going on, Hill is focused on the future - which eventually means finding a way to combine her two passions, film and music. "I'll independently do things outside of my solo project that may be more film based or more music based, but ultimately, for myself, I'd like to marry the two and make the ultimate musical cinematic experience - if it's possible."

Hill Kourkoutis's Toronto favourites:

Place to buy music: Soundscapes
Artists: John Southworth, Alejandra Ribera, Serena Ryder, The Meligrove Band
Place to buy instruments: Capsule music, fellow artists basements
Venue to watch live music: Dakota Tavern, The Orbit Room, Massey Hall
Venue to play: The Horseshoe, The Mod Club, The Rivoli, Tattoo Rock Parlour
Theatres: Cinematheque at the AGO, The Fox Theatre

Written by guest contributor Natalie Donohue.
Lead photo by Allison Janzen
- TO Blog/Guest Contributor / March 7, 2009


Discography

HILL KOURKOUTIS
MUSIC CV
MUSICIAN (live and session)
2011 Hill and the Sky Heroes (PuckEye Records/EMI) Toronto, ON
Live and Session: Vocalist/All Instruments
• 11:11 full length Album to be released June 2012
• Currently recording debut record with Hill Kourkoutis, Doc (Esthero, The Weeknd, Sting) and Adrian Eccleston (Nelly Furtado, Drake, Kylie
Minogue) co-producing
• Some Co-writes include: Martha and the Muffins, Serena Ryder, Damhnait Doyle, Dane Hartsell, Saidah Baba Talibah, Donna Grantis, Adrian Eccleston, Martin "Doc" McKinney
• 11EP Released 11/11/11 - 1st Annual Alien Appreciation Ball
Produced: Lucas Silveira solo project "Mockingbird" EP
2011 The Weeknd
Live: Bassist + keys / Vox
-played 1st show, sold out Mod Club Toronto, opened for Drake at Molsen Amphitheatre, various shows around Ontario and Quebec
2011 Lucas Silveira (The Cliks)
Live: Guitars, bass + Vox
-toured Canada, US and UK ... promoting "Mockingbird"
2011 Keshia Chante (Universal Music Group) Toronto, ON
Live: Bassist
• Played bass for Keshia on her Ontario/Quebec promotional tour
2011 Alyssa Reid (WAX Records) Toronto, ON
Live: Bassist
• Played bass, appearing on MuchMusic for Alyssa’s performance on New Music Live
2011 Saidah Baba Talibah (Independent) Toronto, ON
Live: Keyboards/Back-Up Vocalist
• Plays keyboards and sing back-up vocals, toured parts of Canada, France and Singapore
2011 Robyn Dell’Unto (Independent) Toronto, ON
Live: Guitarist/Back-Up Vocalist
• Sing back-up vocals and play guitar for local shows and showcases
2010 Serena Ryder (EMI Music Canada/Atlantic Records) Toronto, ON
Session: Back-Up Vocalist
• Has shared the stage to sing with Serena on various occasions including an opening slot with Melissa Etheridge at
Massey Hall
2010 Mookie & The Loyalists (Sony Music Canada) Toronto, ON
Session: Back-Up Vocalist
• Sang back-up vocals on the co-written track “Took Me By Surprise” for Mookie’s self-titled ep.
2010-present The Cliks (Tommy Boy Records/Warner Music) Toronto, ON
Live: Bassist/Back-Up Vocalist
• Sing back-up vocals and play bass, touring Canada and Europe
2010-Present Dane Hartsell (Chris Smith Management/EMI) Toronto, ON
Live: Guitarist/Bassist/Back-Up Vocalist
• Sing back-up vocals and play rhythm guitar and bass, touring Ontario
2010 Mercy, The Sexton (Independent) Toronto, ON
Live/Session: Bassist/Vocalist
• Sing back-up vocals and play bass for showcases
• Sang back-up vocals on record in addition to co-writing 4 of the songs on it
2009-present Martha and the Muffins (Independent) Toronto, ON
Live/Session: Guitarist/Percussionist/Back-Up Vocalist
• Sing back-up vocals and play guitar, tonguedrum and jimbay
• Co-Wrote the song “Big Day” and played and sang on the 30th Anniversary release of “Echo Beach”
2009-present Andrea Wasse (EMI Music Publishing) Toronto, ON
Live: Guitarist/Back-Up Vocalist
• Sing back-up vocals and play guitar for showcases
2008-2009 Stephen Kozmeniuk Toronto, ON
Session: Vocalist
• Featured as session vocalist on song demos for commercial placement (Becel, Kit-Kat and Tylenol )
2008 Ole Music Publishing Toronto, ON
Session: Vocalist
• Sang lead and backing vocals on Shiloh track “Army Of One” for subsequent placement in film and television
2008 LA Guns (Alexus Records) Toronto, ON
Session: Keyboardist
• Played keyboards and synthesizer on “Save Someone” for upcoming release
• Produced by Steve Thompson (Madonna, Guns n’ Roses, Duran Duran)
2007-2008 Hunter Valentine (True North Records) Toronto, ON
Live: Guitarist/Keyboards/Back-Up Vocalist
• Toured with band for Ontario Tour, CMW and NXNE showcases
2006-present Tara Slone (The Orange Record Label) Toronto, ON
Live: Guitarist/Back-Up Vocalist
• Joined Tara Slone on Cross Canada Radio/Television Promotional Tour, Showcases, Festivals, Television and Radio Shows
• Television and radio appearances include: City TV, CTV (Entertainment Tonight, Canada AM), Global (Morning News, En

Photos

Bio

HILL & THE SKY HEROES
11:11
BIO

From Goether's The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister to Lucas' Star Wars- people love a good coming of age story. Perhaps even more so when the hero is flawed, slightly awkward and struggling to come to to terms in a world where she feels fundamentally out of place. Inherently, it moves us because everyone identifies with this journey and it stirs up deep emotions about who were, who we are and who we dream of someday becoming.

Award - Winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, producer and filmmaker, Hill Kourkoutis, captures that "Bildungsroman" spirit in her new solo album, 11:11. In her own 24-year long passage, Kourkoutis has established a reputation in both the Canadian music and film insutries that most artists struggle to achieve in a lifetime. As a hired-gun, she's toured and played with The Weeknd, Tara Slone, Saidah Baba Talibah, The Cliks and Martha & The Muffins to name a few. On the other side of the lens, Kourkoutis has directed videos for Sass Jordan, Serena Ryder, Mother Mother, Alex Cuba and others. With the release of her new album, this young, multi-talent is poised to reach even greater heights, drawing on her multifaceted perspective to seamlessly fuse together her vision.

The debut record by Hill & The Sky Heroes is 11-tracks of catchy, spirited songs - some moving, some electrifying - evolving over seven years of Kourkoutis; personal journey, but resonating with the individual story of every listener. "it was about feeling alien and coming to terms with being real," Kourkoutis explains "Art helped me embrace the foreign feeling of being human - and taking in the dramedy of life, the beauty of the smallest thing without having to complete deconstruct reality." Themes of alienation and connection, conflict and harmony are reflected in the album with sincerity and maturity that are tied very closely to the path that led to the creation of the record itself. The album progresses naturally, with each song depicting a hyper-intelligent, intuitive, and cerebral girl-come-woman in her metamorphosis: a musical journey of self-discovery beginning at the fragile age of 17.

While the core of the work is based on Kourkoutis' experience, the complexity of the final product is added to be her solo-collaborations with many other Canadian artists, traversing various media for the ultimate cinematic experience in sound. Today, the Toronto musical scene is making waves on the world sound scape and with Kourkoutis entrenched in this industry, collaborating with her friends on the album introduces this scene's relevant voices into the musical layers. "I worked with people who know me the best", she described, "They pushed me to overcome fear and to be honest." In this spirit, 11:11 was co-produced with Adrian Eccleston (guitarist with Drake, Kylie Minogue, Nelly Furtado and The Weeknd) who shared duties with Kourkoutis in creating the instrumental grit of the record - playing guitar, bass, keys and drum programming. On top of guest vocals and musical accompaniment, several of the album's tracks were co-written with other notable industry players-from Serena Ryder, Saidah Baba Talibah, Martha & The Muffins, to Doc, Dmhnait Dayle and others - these contributions round out the album, creating a sense of something bigger than a solo ride. Kourkoutis reinforces this concept saying, "It's not necessarily one voice that makes this happen, but when many come together." And yet the sound on 11:11 is so unique, so captivating, so Hill.

From the opening sounds of a spaceship taking off in the first track, "Beam Me Up", the theatrical "alien surf rock" tone of the album is evident, identifying a musical sound otherwise not appropriately defined in any established genre. Nostalgia dominates all aspects of the record launch, from retro-style 3D cover art (designed by Kourkoutis) to the obvious influences of late 1950s/early 60s Californian pop to British pop-rock and New York