The I Spies
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The I Spies

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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Elle Magazine"

By Mary Dickie

The I Spies' self-released debut, In The Night (Fontana North), is the kind of album that's easy to fall in love with, especially is you're a fan of revved-up power-pop songs with insanely cathy melodies. (And who isn't?) The Toronto quartet's sound brings to mind other pop geniuses from storied eras like '70s England and '90s Halifax, but the band's joyful bounciness is way too fresh to sound like an imitation. - April, 2008

"SEE Magazine"

The I Spies
In the Night

4 Stars

Hook, hook, thump, thump. That's the sound of The I Spies debut album, In the Night. But don't think for a moment that these up-and-coming Toronto indie-poppers will leave you black and blue. On the contrary, The I Spies weave melodic tales of urban disappointment with undercurrents of unrelenting percussion, coloured with infectious bass and guitar rhythms set against a backdrop of textured synths. Each song plays like a snappy fits-in-your-pocket movie about the adventurous lives of the nocturnal demimonde.

With slick numbers like "Sleepwalkers," "To the City," and "Blurring Dots/Fading Lines" in their arsenal, The I Spies feel like Ontario's response to Victoria's Hot Hot Heat, and are even more likely to be the next hot pop quartet north of the American border. But even if things don't click for them commercially, they're still undoubtedly some of the most intelligent agents to replicate the coveted clamour of '80s Brit-rock.

Chris Lewis - April 3, 2008

"Estonian Life"

"The I iSpies are for real. Their CD is a collection of tight, well-crafted tunes that owes a fair bit - at least to these ears – to the inspiration provided by British rock of the late 1970s and early '80s."

"The layers of sound produced by the quartet never overwhelm. Laudably, The I Spies are well aware of the effects that can be created by tempo and intensity variations. As a result the album sounds up beat and fresh, no mean feat in today's competitive music field." - December 17, 2007


Charging out of the gates with pristine pop rock intensity, the I Spies rarely let up on their breakneck pace. Hooks bristle from each song like a candy-coated porcupine."

"Up All Night" is an obvious cross-format hit I expect to be hearing plastered all over modern rock radio any day now. If you like your music peppier than a lake of Red Bull and catchier than the plague, set your sights on the I Spies." - November 2007

"The Varsity"

Save yourself the trouble of waiting for Franz Ferdinand’s next record and pick up the ambitious full-length debut from this local indie quartet. The I Spies do frenzied, angular post-punk better than just about anyone in the Toronto scene, and singer Johnny Kay even throws in just enough of a Scouse accent to convince you that you might be in Camden Town instead of Kensington Market. The early going of In the Night is a breathless string of rockers that can lead to sensory overload, but that’s not a bad thing. The album really hits its stride in the middle with the sinfully good “To the City.” The title track is a dance floor anthem waiting to happen, while “Up All Night” and “Stop Screaming” show off the massive riffs and catchy choruses that make this album totally worth the sticker price.—ROB DUFFY - October 2007

"Eye Weekly"

"The I Spies make thoroughly solid indie rock, and their espionage skills apparently include pricking up their ears for any decent riffs or catchy pop hooks." - October 4, 2007

"Chart Attack"

Spies Get Smart In The Night
Friday January 11, 2008 @ 05:00 PM
By: Staff

The I Spies

Toronto quartet The I Spies have been selling their In The Night full-length debut in local independent record stores, but the album will receive a national release on Feb. 5.

Johnny Kay (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar), James Robertson (lead guitar, vocals, keyboards), Markus Saks (drums, percussion) and Steve Payne (bass) formed in 2003. They recorded the album at Toronto's Signal To Noise Studios, with Robertson helping engineer/mixer Rob Sanzo produce it.

The group — inspired by British greats The Police, Elvis Costello, The Clash and XTC — collaborated with Small Sins main man Thom D'Arcy on four of the album's songs, including "To The City." That tune and the title track are the first two singles.

The I Spies will present an event called Spy Vs. Spy, where guest DJs will battle head to head, at Toronto's Sneaky Dee's on Friday. The spinners will include Pete Carmichael (The Diableros), Stuart Berman (The Two Koreas, Eye Weekly), Jay Ferguson (Sloan), Ronnie Morris (Lioness, Controller.Controller), Randy Byres (Born In The 60's), Stephen Kozmeniuk (Boy), Ben Buchanan (Easy Tiger), Ian Worang (Uncut) and Todor Kobakov (Small Sins, Major Maker).

The I Spies will also play Toronto's Mod Club on Jan. 26 and the Horseshoe Tavern on Feb. 1 (with Modernboys Moderngirls) before embarking on a national tour in the spring.

Here are the songs on In The Night:

"I (Heart) The Middle Mind"
"Spare Your Secrets"
"To The City"
"In The Night"
"Up All Night"
"Stop Screaming"
"Blurring Dots/Fading Lines"
"Are You Talking To Yourself Again?"
"Save Yourself"
"Thump, Thump, Thump"

- January 15th, 2008

"Toronto Indie (Live Review)"

Toronto Indie (Live Review)

January 11, 2008: Ispies @ Sneaky Dee's

By Pam Nichol

Sneaky Dee's held the highly anticipated CD-release party for The I Spies debut CD In The Night, which will be released Feb 5th , 2008. After hearing of the show earlier this month, I was happy to have an evening free to finally check out a band that has been creating a lot of buzz.

Opening the show with the title track off their CD, The I Spies took the stage and began to rock to a crowd eager to participate in their CD release celebration. As the songs rolled on, vocalist/guitarist Johnny Kay's voice became more apparent to me; I've seen a lot of bands in my years in this city and not many singers have been able to keep their vocals solid throughout an entire performance. Granted, The I Spies only played 8 songs, but Johnny and the rest of the band stayed true to their sound and never faltered or swayed. James Roberston (guitar, vocals) Steve Payne (bass), and Markus Saks (drums) each stayed focused on the same goal of giving a stellar performance to the packed crowd.

Once this CD hits the masses, I can see The I Spies becoming a great Canadian export that anyone could easily fall in love with. You, indie music fan, can see them at their next 2 shows: January 26th at the Mod Club, or Feb 1st at The Horseshoe Tavern. I know I can't wait to be entertained once again.

Set List: "In The Night", "Spare Your Secrets", "(I Heart) The Middle Mind", "Stop Screaming", "To The City", "Talk Show", "Up All Night", and "Are You Talking To Yourself Again"
Image by David Waldman - January 11th, 2008

"Toronto Star"

The I Spies owe sucess to the Man
Indie Band got funding to make top-notch CD

Ben Rayner
Pop Music Critic

One rarely has the opportunity to commend the government on a job well done, let alone praise it for exerting a positive influence on the business of rock `n' roll.

Credit where credit is due, though. While it's highly unlikely we'll see the I Spies affixing "Up with Harper!" stickers to their amps at any point in the future, the Toronto quartet is still happy to acknowledge the role state benevolence has played in its brewing success story.

The band's bracing new album, In the Night, leaps from the speakers in a manner few of its self-released contemporaries can match, after all, thanks to a generous grant from the feds' commendable music-funding agency, FACTOR.

"Essentially, our record label is the government of Canada..." says frontman Johnny Kay over pints in Parkdale with lead guitarist James Robertson. "Because of FACTOR, we got 25 grand to literally sit in a studio for four or five months and just jam out ideas.

"We got money to make the record and make it the way we wanted to. You know, we got to record all of our drums to reel-to-reel and use this old, crazy board from the `60s. We got to do it the way we wanted to and it was wicked."

In the Night constitutes a win/win situation for all involved, then, since the crisp, ridiculously hooky post-punk guitar-pop contained therein seems pretty much destined to elevate the I Spies to a level of notoriety currently enjoyed by their numerous, better-known, internationally exported Canadian indie contemporaries.

The band made a conscious effort to channel its FACTOR dollars into an accomplished, Brit-pop-sleek record that would, as Robertson puts it, "get attention" and "sell itself." It's already been picked up for national distribution by Fontana North as of March 11, so the guys must be doing something right.

There's a lesson to be learned by other independent bands, about taking the time to buckle down and figure out the bureaucratic procedures that, when navigated effectively, can make life considerably easier for starving musicians.

Kay, for one, revels in the empirical exercise of sorting through the red tape and mundane, day-to-day procedures – from finding an appropriate rehearsal space to hunting down a booking agent – involved in keeping a band afloat.

"Every single thing that you need to figure out, we've had to figure out. And to me, that process, that D.I.Y. – that's the process that I really enjoy," he says, conceding a somewhat nerdish affinity for the grant-application process.

"We did a budget. You've got to be able to do that. A lot of bands don't realize that you've got to be able to pencil sh-- together and submit stuff. Presentation is key for anything .... I don't mind that. I like figuring it out. I like things like trying to find a publicist and putting together a package."

"He really likes packages. It's the only reason this is working at all," laughs Robertson. "It's the only reason we got those FACTOR grants. It's all his packaging and not our musical talent at all."

Just the facts
WHO: The I Spies, with Fox Jaws, Modern Boys & Modern Girls and Prize Fighter

WHERE: The Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W.

WHEN: Tomorrow, 9:30 p.m.

COVER: $6 - January 31st, 2008

"NOW Magazine"

Disc Review
In The Night (independent) Rating: NNN
By Jason Keller

With a charging downstroke staccato guitar riff on opener Talkshow, the I Spies set out to dispel any notion that the local new wavers might be as dull as their debut’s title suggests. You might wonder after the rote Sleepwalkers if the world needs another rethink on the XTC and Squeeze era, but lead singer Johnny Kay exerts undeniable energy on Spare Your Secrets, sliding into a complex vocal bridge before guitarist James Robertson cranks it up with his noodling yayas.

Small Sins’ Thom D’Arcy gives In The Night a songwriting boost with his talent for all things 80s Brit, especially on dramatic keyboard thriller Are You Talking To Yourself Again? Toronto might not need another Union Jack-waving band of skinny-tie mop-tops, but this solidly rendered offering shows that the I Spies deserve to rise above the vanilla crop. - January 31st, 2008


In The Night (Debut LP)
Released March 11, 2008
(Indepedent / Fontana North / Universal)

"In The Night" and "To The City" are currently on college radio and online playlists, including CBC Radio 3.



Released independently and distributed nationwide by Fontana North in March, The I Spies’ full-length debut, ’In The Night’, could be a candidate for indie rock top ten lists come December. Also titled ’In The Night’, the first single is already charting at college radio. Watch your concert listings closely for a show near you.

The I Spies breed an imposing sound. Robertson’s layered guitar grit scuzzes-up Kay’s strong pop rants, while Payne’s infectious bass melodies race alongside Saks’ machine gun percussion. Organs and synths pulse in and out. The music is urgent and abrasive; big and fresh; hook-laden and filler-free. In The Night will almost certainly blow the Toronto-based Spies’ cover.

Your iPod needs this record. Your town needs this band.

The I Spies began in 2003 as four young musicians experimenting with angular riffs and New Wave hooks, inspired by the likes of The Clash and The Police and by the attitudes of bands like Television and XTC. Subsequent years saw the I Spies slowly building an underground fan-base as a an antisocial and occasional contributor to Toronto’s vibrant rock ’n roll scene. But recently, the I Spies have redoubled their ambitions. They have become more than the sum of their influences. Their energetic and fiery pop songs translate flawlessly into high energy live performance. Armed with a clear agenda and a stunning record, the Spies are ready to infiltrate.

Nowhere to run?

Come hide with The I Spies.