Trike
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Trike

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"Pedaling Across The Pond"

For countless bands the thought of touring Europe is a pipe dream; a goal many set, but only a few can attain. But with a lot of hard work and persistence, coupled with a bit of luck, local Vancouver band Trike beat the odds, and have just returned home from an extensive European tour.

Trike is made up of Xania Keane and Stephen Taylor, who met while “perusing a triple-x shop in Montreal.” Since their first encounter, the two have united to create an eccentric, humorous and loveable addition to the synthpop scene. Armed with two keyboards, a violin, and some tap shoes, they could be seen as a novelty, but it is certain that people love them. Keane and Taylor arrived in Vancouver last summer and managed to survive solely on busking and playing shows at various smaller venues in town. They lived in a one room apartment under a hostel downtown, and ate at Bon’s off Broadway whenever they got the chance. One afternoon Keane and Taylor were busking on a corner when a veejay from local radio station Rock 101 asked them to try out for “The Gong Show,” a contest with a $20,000 top prize. All they had to do was perform and not get voted off by the judges, à la American Idol. They made it to the finals, and after a nerve-wracking performance on live television, Trike won. “I feel enormously grateful that that happened,” says Taylor. “It’s a mainstream station and they’re the kind of dudes who probably wouldn’t listen to The Cure or The Smiths or whatever, and the fact that they were behind us was really inspiring.”

After the victory, the task of planning a tour was looming overhead. With the assistance of Myspace.com and contacts from other bands, they booked 15 shows before heading across the pond. “We ended up playing 75 shows in total, which is a pretty big deal,” said Keane. “And we made a point of playing places over and over again. We played Berlin around 15 times.” Taylor, who spent a few years in Holland at art school, knew the lay of the land a bit, but when it came to travelling from country to country things got a bit hectic. “It could get so stressful. I had heartburn for the first time,” says Keane. “Totally,” agreed Taylor, “and for the record, German trains suck. I don’t know how many times we were late for shows because of the damned German trains.”

Songs about My Little Pony, jogging, and George Stroumboulopoulos make this band quite endearing to watch, and even if the crowd isn’t into it in the beginning, most leave the venue smiling. Even the language barrier in foreign countries didn’t seem to be much of a problem at all. “Our best show was in Denmark. We played at a high school and 16-year-olds were crowd surfing and it was awesome. They were all beautiful,” said Keane. For the majority of the tour, their name appeared on posters with “from Canada” added next to it. The fact that they were somewhat exotic helped get curious concert-goers to shows, but it wasn’t all glamorous. The worst came when the duo hit France. “It made me not want to play in France. Everyone was so obnoxious. They were all dressed in black and they were smoking and talking,” says Taylor. During their European excursion, the band managed to play consistently and made quite a name for themselves. “We were getting recognized, man! Getting recognized in Prague is such a huge compliment. It’s one of the coolest cities on earth, and someone’s like “Hey, are you from Trike?’” says Taylor. “And in Scotland we opened for the Super Furry Animals. They were doing a DJ set, but still, it counts.”

Back in Vancouver, Trike is taking it easy for a few weeks before heading to Montreal to await their next trip to Europe. “We’re going back in February to play a bunch of shows in Holland and hopefully keep touring after,” says Keane. Even though financially speaking their tour wasn’t all that successful, the spirit of Trike is high and mighty and will not be broken. And when asked the question “Does Trike love Europe?” Taylor responded with “Obviously—we’re going back aren’t we?” - Capilano Courier


"Trike-A-Revolution"

If you close your eyes and make a mental list of where you're at you may notice that you're a little sticky with sweat, that your calves and ankles are sore from dancing, and that the sound coming out of the loudspeaker is reminiscent of the Talking Heads, The Cure, and The Magnetic Fields. When you open your eyes you realize that this tall, hairy man is wearing a sparkly purple vest, his hands permanently attached to the keyboard (unless he is mid-disco move); and his cohort is dancing a jig on a piece of Linoleum. In short, Trike rocked Prince George.

Joined together by trans-Canadian forces, Trike is arguably one of the hardest working bands in the indie-business. Xania (Montreal) and Stephen (Vancouver) treat their electro/synth-pop project and a full time gig; and they're unabashedly DIY. While busking one day Trike was discovered by the world of rock radio and asked to perform on the Gong Show, a contest with a $20,000 prize; and they won! I had the opportunity to sit down with Trike in a wonderfully smelling pizza shop for about 20 minutes and these are some snippets of our conversation.

Has Winning 20,000 K changed your lives?

Step: Yeah, it just gave us a lot of freedom. Freedom rocks!
Xan: I felt myself walking with more confidence (laughs), I was like, "I'm not broke!"

So, this is your full time job then?

Xan: Yeah
Step: But it's been our full time job for three months before this happened even, because we were busking.

What's the future of Trike?

Xan: We're touring Europe in April
Step: We want to teach the world to dance the Trikey, I think it's really important.

Where are you going in Europe?

Germany, Czeck Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, France, Scotland, and we're going with Roller Girl/Roller Babe.

I've been listening to your CD this morning and it sounds really 80s. I hear the Cure and Pulp, and speaking of Electro pop, do you think that Trike is breaking into that 80s reconnaissance?

Step: The 80s reconnaissance... but electroclash kind of came and went, right...?

Do you think so?

Step: Well, Ladytron - their sound completely morphed and changed... Adult was considered electroclash. You don't really hear a lot of bands right now doing the 80s thing.
Xan: I think it's coming back

Is it just maybe in general that you don't hear it? I mean, I'm really into electroclash and electropop so I hear it all the time, like YACHT and the Blow... so there's kind of this movement, like Last Gang Records, that is electro poppy.

Step: We should be sending our stuff out to these record labels (laughs)
Xan: I kind of like being independent
Step: Yeah (waxing and waning)

I think when you sign with an independent label it's not the same as signing with a "label". You're kind of independent from the "label" system.

Step: Exactly. But in terms of the 80s sound, I'm an 80s kid so it's a huge influence. And I've always loved 80s music, like all the bands you mentioned and the Smiths, Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division, and I mean even like late 70s punk, like the Sex Pistols and stuff which is all pretty catchy stuff, the buzzcocks, but that new wavey sound... and the Cars, huge huge huge bigtime. So, I mean, I guess it's in the sound. But I don't know that we're trying to create that sound or if it's just what's pleasing to the ear

Like it's just the music you want to make instead of trying to fit into that type of culture?

Step: Yeah, we're not trying to emulate a particular sound, and just using a synthesizer with those beats that are from a certain point of time.

I find in Canada that Canada is obsessed with Novelty music.

Step: You think?

You notice that? CFOX has all those "radar sucks" songs for example where they take classic rock songs and turn them into novelty songs by changing the lyrics..or the Arrogant Worms or Moxy Fruvous for example, and there's this history of novelty bands in Canada and I was curious if maybe you would possibly be lumped there because your lyrics are in less of the Nickelback-serious mode?

Xan: A lot of people said that our stuff is kind of novelty, but we don't want to be a novelty band.
Step: you mentioned Moxy Fruvous and they did two albums and died off the face of the planet, I don't want to be a novelty band that dies... like, "oh they're fun" and then gone. I think there's novelty aspects
Xan: Yeah, things performance wise, people love to hear that stuff, people always ask for "Masturbation", "Trikey", or "Let's Jog" those are the kind of novelty songs. But also, when people listen to the CD that Stephen did before I joined it's a lot different. I guess when you're entertaining during a performance that's what they like.
Step: And novelty, even the nature of the word is not lasting, it's novel, it's a fad, but I've written lots of songs.
Xan: We've had the comment that our music's frivolous before
Step: One Girl!
Xan: Well, also my mom too. She's like, I used to write more political stuff, political rap songs and so my mom's like, "ah! That's frivolous what you're doing now". The more that I do it the more I think it's useful. The best comment that we had, we were busking outside of a liquor store and a homeless man came up to us and was like, "you guys are so awesome, I wish I could be you, you guys are spreading happiness." I started crying when he told me that, because at that point we just got to Vancouver and I was starting to doubt, I had just done this move...
Step: We're on the street busking every day for like three hours, because that's as long as we can go considering she can only dance so much, and yeah some days you're just making peanuts and it's like, "what am I doing this for?" You're just waiting for something to happen and we lucked out.

Do you think you lucked out or is it because you're awesome?

Xan: (laughs) Well, we definitely worked hard.
Step: This is after years of working on it in different capacities, I've been writing lots of songs and have been pretty engaged. But this is the first time where it's been five or six months of just going at it
Xan: We don't have real jobs we're just doing music

Are you a DIY band, how?

Step: Definitely
Xan: We don't have anyone working for us
Step: We're organizing our own tour, we're doing our own promotions and making our own connections, posters, we don't like pay some guy to put up posters, we're completely DIY. - Cut Out And Keep Zine


"Trike: Your Hope in Frightened Days: Trike Warms Up Exit"

All at once, Trike appeared: a Canadian duo comprising Stephen Tayor ..boards and vocals (he also spoke suspiciously good Dutch, only “gezellig” was beyond his reach, but it is an extremely difficult word) en Xania Keane who also sang plus mastered a load of instruments such as violin, xylophone, toy guitar and on top of that, demonstrated a plethora of Irish tapdancing moves. It was almost a parody of Lord of the Dance, and in my opinion Xania’s been taking lessons for years, because it looked technically proficient.

The music was pleasingly nutty and came over much more entertainingly than the tracks on Trike’s MySpace site. There are no weird midi voices in the live setting, but a duo who exemplify everything that’s fun about electropop: silly songs about weird subjects with extremely infectious beats and melodies.

A big difference between most Dutch bands in general and electro duos in particular, is that on the other side of the ocean, they know how to put on a show. There was a lot to look at onstage, it was technically solid and more importantly, they weren’t afraid to let it all hang out, for real, and go nuts on stage. That just doesn’t seem to work with Dutch bands, and because of it, even the best songs with the funniest lyrics can totally bellyflop (and we’re back in the ocean).

After just 4 numbers, Trike had the audience completely won over and tonight, no one could get enough of them.

A bunch of people missed the last tram, but were probably still smiling as they embarked on their chilly trek home.

This was Trike’s second time in the Netherlands this year (they gigged at the Waterfront in April) and I hope they’re back soon, because Trike is precisely the kind of band that will come along and cheer up your average boring summer festival. - 3voor12 (The Netherlands)


"Trike: The New Album"

There’s a definite patchwork quality to this CD. It’s in the music, of course, a capable clash of left-handed bedroom budgetronics, dry, droll chamber pop and woozy hipster folk that takes some delirious detours. It’s also in the timeline—despite the title, the 17 tracks here reach back to 1998—and in the geographically scattered make-up of the band (only singer Stephen Taylor’s presently a Montrealer, assembling a crew of cello, flute and fiddle for shows). A chaotic construct, to be sure, but one blessed with a guileless wit, emotional honesty and an impressive sense of tunecraft. - Rupert Bottenberg - The Montreal Mirror


"Trike: The New Album"

Between electro, pop, folk, synth-laden melodies, hip-hop, and whatever the hell else might be on here, they cover their grounds. The songs' variety is huged and you can expect something new from every track. Strange, bizarre, tongue-in-cheek weird, this album manages to become a wild journey of time between this duo. Simple funny lyrics and drum-machine driven songs keep this album irreverent and clever. Totally worth the listen. - Luke Jensen - Never News Zine


"Trike Inspired The Public To Dance"

In the atmosphere of the tiny venue, sweaty " Trike", with its crazy, wild show inspired the public to dance - ANNIKA MÜLLER, F.A.Z (Germany)


"Left to Their Own Devices, Trike Probably Would"

Xania used to consider herself the auxiliary member of Vancouver, B.C.'s electro-pop band Trike. She wasn't upset about the fact, as she wrote about it on the MySpace blog she and singer/keyboardist Stephen P. Taylor take turns writing. The way I see it, tap-dancing is essential to any respectable rock outfit.

Trike certainly wants you to think so. They're more than a boy/girl version of the Pet Shop Boys, filtered through a gleeful mix of the Beastie Boys, Erasure and Spandau Ballet. The world is on notice that it better listen, because this is a band that doesn't take no for an answer.

But seriously, Trike has manners. They say please and thank you. They are Canadian, after all. (Stephen's from Holland, so maybe that's half-Canadian?) When I first contacted Stephen, he wrote right back, a little apologetic about how short his message was (three sentences). "I am a bit pressed right now..." he said.

Taylor's voice on record is phenomenal. I'm reminded of David Gedge of the Wedding Present, or Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet. Those comparisons don't quite capture it, though.

Trike's last LP, The New Album, and new EP, "Heaven is a Zipper Away" are worth checking out. There'll be reviews of both here very soon. Right now, Trike is penciling in spring tour dates for Europe. No surprise for folks this irrepressible. - Rebecca J. Lower, Bizarre Love Triangle Blog


"From Sleeping On A Rooftop To Plinky Plinky Acclaim"

Trike is a Dutch band from Vancouver by way of Montreal. Kind of. According to a recent Dutch radio and TV review, 'gezellig' -- a word often used in Dutch culture but is pretty much impossible to translate -- was 'beyond the reach' of vocalist/keyboardist Stephen Taylor's reach. Suspicious, or not.

Although his electro-skanking dance-a-tronic music-making project began when he was a student in the Netherlands,Taylor's native tongue is English.

Since then, his band has been through personnel permutations before settling upon today's duo of Taylor and violin, saxophonist, toy guitarist, glockenspiel and step-dancer Xania Keane. The Montreal woman joined purely by coincidence when a cross-country tour with previous member Wes G. Knight collapsed in a quagmire of band politics.

'So the tour was over, I was in Montreal with no money and depressed when a friend told me about someone who liked my plinky-plinky electro-pop music and thought I should play her open-mic night at a club,' says Taylor. 'So I did, it was Xania, and I asked her to join the band.'

'He had everyone doing 'the Trikey,' and singing 'Hallelujah,'' says Keane.
The group grew to six musicians and did about four shows at that size. Someone said it was taking away from Taylor's dynamic showmanship, so Trike became Taylor and Keane whose instrumental prowess and ace dance moves are key to the whole show.

'We agreed to a pact to only make our livings through art and music and began busking to develop our act,' she says. 'We slowly worked our way back to B.C. so we could go to Shambala.'

After the Nelson-based hippie/ groover festival ended, the two returned to Vancouver with $100 and nowhere to live.They began busking near Georgia and Granville. They came to the attention of CFOX DJs running an on-air Gong Show.
'So we did it and were highly rated and then moved to the third, second and finally first-prize round,' says Taylor. 'It was a complete surprise with a nice $20,000 main prize.'
That enabled the band to do what it wanted the most: Return to Europe to build it's fan base. This was a year ago.

'It's pretty amazing to go from less than $100 and sleeping on a friend's roof to having that much money and heading off to tour Europe,' says Taylor. 'I recorded two albums over there while I was going to school for two years, so there were shows lined up if we wanted them.'

The audience reactions to the duo made 15 shows blossom into a total of 75 bookings.

There were more good gigs than bad and a hand-held digital camera produced the videos screening at both the group's myspace site and at www.trikeaband.com. It also wrote and recorded a new album that gets released this week, titled Do The Trikey.

You can hear fan faves such as the title track, 'Mag Ik Met Jou' and 'Exploding Cars' at this weekend's shows by the band.

Oh, and another song you may hear at the show is 'Stuart Derdeyn' about some music critic in Vancouver. It's got a good beat and you can dance to it, but so not a hit. The group's 'George Stroumboulopoulos' track, on the other hand, is a winner. - Stuart Derdeyn - Vancouver Province


"Cheap Thrills Night number 3 at Garcia Lorca, May 10 2008"

(Translated from French)

Garcia Lorca, hosted the third edition of Cheap Thrills. As usual, a copious and varied program.

The surprise was a last minute group added to the menu. From Vancouver, Canada: TRIKE

David and Nathan, from the Taxidermists, invited Trike to play as part of Garcia Lorca. They played during intervals between each act on the main stage. The tall Stephen Taylor (programming, Yamaha keyboard, harmonica, vocals) and the sweet one, Xania Keane (vocals, violin, glockenspiel, floor drumming and…. tap dancing) played for more than 2 hours; 4 merry sets.

Xania, the cute and curly one, has a look which makes you smile sweetly: red miniskirt with garden peas and matching clown socks. We were all in love when she did her tap-dancing numbers. Since April, TRIKE undertook (with their own money and with no pre-established plan) a European tour, which passed through Germany, Netherlands, France and Belgium to offer their simple, fresh electro-pop; sweetened like a Canadian lollipop.

Set 1: Jacq, Bring the shit back (an irresistible hip hop number. They know the shit), Body like mine (introduced with the violin). All the styles pass through the mill: disco music, country, drinking cowboy songs, Spice Girls pop songs with adequate choreography, rap (style ' Rapture' of Bleached), new Wave (Depeche Mode), rock'n'roll (accompanied by penguin jumps, humour and eccentric rates/rhythms reminiscent of the B 52' S) … An explosive cocktail.

Set 2: Pound, Sun burns up, Mushy, Kaplow and (are the children asleep?) Masturbation (rap without baseball caps) rest assured, there was no live demonstration.

Set 3: Maru's Reel/George Stroumbouloupolous, an Irish jig, Mag ik Met Jou (a bilingual song: their Dutch beatmaker, Alex Van de Meer concocts the samples on his PC and sends them via Internet), Player in Love, Sudbury, and Carousel.

Set 4: Fuzzy pink bunnies (a playboy song - we had to be naughty because Xania comes to give us a spanking), Fat dancer (Jean Luc Dehaene?), Brothaman (public hip shaking… wiggle your ass, baby, don't be shy), My little pony, Don't Throw your heart away, Do The Trikey, Let's jog (with a dangerous consumption of pints, one prefers to remain seated) and a double encore, because the public gave them an ovation: 'Love is a temperature thing' , and again 'Bring the shit back'. Fun, fun, fun… - Le Blog des critiques de concerts


"That Band From Holland & Trike in Waterfront"

After the nerdy That Band From Holland it was time for still more extreme freakiness of the Canadian band, Trike.

On the stage stood a woman with striped socks, polka-dot skirt, and tap shoes and a man who looked like a biology teacher with dingy pants and gumboots. The instrumention was only one keyboard and a violin. We didn't know what to expect, but what we got was extremely playful. Celebrate!

Kitschy electropop doesn't even begin to describe the sounds, with numbers about jogging and screwing in the kitchen. Wow, you are tourists and you have already learned about clean Dutch sensibilities. Within moments, the small room stood on its head, individuals staring in full disbelief at the stage where this kitschy gay-pop was being made (the biology teacher in glittery vest thrusting against his keyboard singing that this evening he wants to make sweet love is completely terrible… pleasant…) but everybody there was simply amused and entertained. Totally disturbing, lively, and providing enough conversation for the next family anniversary. In July they return again. Imagine that! - 3voor12 (The Netherlands)


Discography

Albums

Banana Bike (under the name Zipperhead)
The New Album (2005)
Heaven Is A Zipper Away (EP) (2007)
Do The Trikey - 23 Golden Hits (2008)
Mushy Muschi Moshi (in production) (2009)

Singles that have radio airplay:

Body Like Mine (The New Album)
Bring The Shit Back (The New Album)
Do The Trikey (Do The Trikey)

Photos

Bio

Stephen Taylor spent ten years making music with various people under different names (Zipperhead and Frenetic Hornheads, to name a few) and four years in art school until he met Xania Keane in 2007 and their lives changed forever.

After playing a handful of shows with four other players in Montreal, Keane and Taylor moved to Vancouver in the fall of 2007 with 100 dollars and one clear goal: to make their living as musicians/ artists. They began busking.

Busking is where they developed and fine-tuned their act. Keane took a stronger role in the outfit, incorporating lightening-speed rapping, Irish step-dancing, glockenspiel and toy-digital guitar. They collaborated more and more, writing songs such as "Let's Jog" and "George Stroumbouloupolous".

One week after arriving in Vancouver, Trike performed their song "Masturbation" at a local open mic and were spotted by Ian Jarvis and Chris Murphy, who decided to record their next album, an EP, for free. In October, 2007, Trike's fifth album, "Heaven Is A Zipper Away" was released to a full house at Café Deux Soleils.

Around this time, while busking, the duo was spotted by people who worked for local Vancouver radio station, C101. They were invited to take part in "The Gong Show". After 73 other contestants and three rounds, they won, taking home $20,000.

With this money, Keane and Taylor booked a 15-stop tour around Europe. In April, 2008, they left for Amsterdam on their tour.

The 15 shows quickly grew to 75 gigs in 9 different European countries, they were warmly written about in FAZ (Popular German Magazine) and were interviewed by a magazine called "Boardstein". After the tour, they toured Canada and recorded a new album: Mushy Muschi Moshi.

Together they play electro-synth-pop. They are audience-interactive and theatrical; incorporating costume-changes, teaching dance moves, spanking audience members and jogging through venues.