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"Singing the MP3s"

Asking an artist about his or her influences can be either the most interesting or the lamest part of an interview.

For that reason, it's a question I often skip altogether - mostly because of the six months last year when I felt like every single person I spoke with was influenced by Pet Sounds. When talking to local electronic artist TwoTails (aka Taylor Burgess), however, musical influence is an important discussion point. After all, it's partly because of a certain Baltimore-bred freak-folk collective that Burgess decided to trade in his guitar.

"I bought a sampler after my last band broke up," he explains over coffee. Burgess was a vocalist/guitarist in local post-punk outfit Digitall, which called it quits in early 2008. "Animal Collective's record (2007's Strawberry Jam) had come out, and I knew they were making all those sounds with a sampler."

And so, armed with his new toy, a drum machine and the wonderfully weird Animal Collective catalogue to serve as a creative springboard, Burgess, 21, struck out on his own and started making lo-fi experimental electronic music under the name TwoTails. The project is still fairly new, but Burgess is already gearing up to release his debut EP, TwoTails sings the mp3s, at the Lo Pub this Friday night.

At eight songs, the EP was an ambitious undertaking for the newly solo artist.

"It's been quite stressful, especially since I'm in school and I have two jobs," says Burgess, a second-year creative communications student at Red River College. He's also the arts and culture editor at the school's bi-weekly newspaper, The Projector.

"The onus is on me. But it's kind of free at the same time - there's no creative differences I need to deal with. I completely have control. If I want to make a song that sounds like Animal Collective, I don't need to run that idea by a band."

That freedom is apparent on the charmingly quirky TwoTails sings the mp3s. Not only does the EP push sonic boundaries, it also challenges the concept of a traditional album.

"It's a collection of songs, which is why I called it sings the mp3s," Burgess says. "They're not really connected to each other and they're not similar. They're meant to go on playlists."

That said, the songs on the EP share the same DNA.

"I think I've developed my own sound," Burgess says. "I have sort of a template. No song is a radical leap from the next. I wasn't expecting it to be so cohesive."

It's forward-thinking stuff, which is why TwoTails is concerned about his reception here at home. Winnipeg has healthy roots, punk, metal and indie rock communities, but Burgess says people making avant-garde music on the fringes of those established scenes often go unheard and unsupported, mostly because they're unfamiliar.

"Winnipeggers who have the mentality that the new is OK are hard to find because those people seem to move away," he says, pointing to vitaminsforyou (aka Bryce Kushnier) as a notable example. The lo-fi/electro pioneer is now based in Toronto.

"It's tough. People move away because they can't find support, but the support isn't there because people have moved away. I'm considering moving away myself."

Still, according to Burgess, the reasons behind the absence of a strong electronic scene in our city run deeper than musicians simply packing up and relocating to Toronto or Montreal. He says they're rooted in Winnipeg's resistance to change.

"I think it's in Winnipeg's blood. We're stubborn and we're cheap - which aren't qualities for a good arts scene," he says. "You're not going to see a $5 show just for the hell of it."

Luckily, Winnipeggers have a chance to prove him wrong on Friday night.

You can get a taste of TwoTails at - and yes, tickets to the show are $5.

Feb. 27, Lo Pub
w/ Not Animals, Loveseat

- Jen Zoratti - Uptown Magazine


TwoTails' only release is "TwoTails sings the mp3s EP", which was made completely at home. Although it was with little home recoding experience, the point was to show the songwriting, and these new sounds coming through. It was released at the end of February, but TwoTails is already improving upon it. It's in rotation at CKUW and UMFM.

"TwoTails sings the mp3s EP"
1. Victor
2. Uniform
3. You Got Me All Nervous
4. Purple City
5. Sea (Era)
6. The Wire
7. Tango
8. More Force



Having only started TwoTails in the middle of 2008, Taylor Burgess is making a lot of headway already. The locals have taken notice: airplay on University of Winnipeg's radio station CKUW, a mention in Winnipeg's only alternative weekly newspaper, Uptown Magazine. And online too: TwoTails was featured on RCRD LBL's Demo Days feature - a feature showcasing unsigned bands the influential music website chooses.

Inspired by Animal Collective and Madlib (among others), TwoTails, aka Taylor Burgess, bought a sampler and started making weird sounds. And those sounds (other than drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard) coupled with his songwriting chops like The Beatles or New Order makes a sound that's truly his own.

TwoTails finished his first EP, "TwoTails sings The mp3s" at the end of February 2009. It's a collection of songs, rather than an album. Let's admit it, you'll just put your favourite song on a playlist anyways. But TwoTails' mp3s span a number of moods, and styles, and they could end up in strange places, like between Hot Chip and Nirvana.

Burgess has been playing guitar and writing songs since he was eight. He's been in a couple of bands through the years, but nothing that satiated his hunger for exploring new sounds and making catchy music.