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Gettting to know Operators

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

This year marks a lot of change for musician Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and Divine Fits as he starts up a brand new project, Operators. We’ve sat down with this multi-talented artists to discuss his new direction in music:

It always seems like you’ve constantly been in bands, keeping busy. It has been a bit between Wolf Parade/Divine Fits and Operators, what did you do in between?
Ha. That’s the maybe the first time anyones accused me of taking time between projects.  Actually, I started writing for Operators before DF was finished the album cycle. As soon as we got off the road, I was in the studio and started rehearsals.

Operators kind of came out of nowhere, debuting with a live show first instead of a recording. Why did you guys choose this approach?
I think a lot of bands (some of mine included) rely on these very long rollouts that are focussed entirely on creating a buzz and social media metrics etc. To a certain degree, it works. I think it also kind of obscures the best thing about the audience/performer relationship, which is a real live show. The live show is the last bastion of direct connection, you know? To experience a band live is to have something that only the people in that room on that night get. It’s special. I want to to let the songs get born in front of people. In a room. Loud.

Where did you guys play your first shows and what was the reaction?
Our first shows were in San Jose (at an all ages punk/hardcore venue) and in Columbus, OH (at Double Happiness). The reactions were good! Columbus was a little better than SJ. I think pounding 808 kicks and acid bass were not what the all ages crowd was expecting. Thankfully, a bunch of Devs girlfriends were there and tipped the dancing scales back into place.

Originally from BC, where do you call home now?
I’m in California right now but… drifting. Cloud based residency. I’m going to settle down in Montreal in between tours and recording for the next few months at least.

Operators is closer to Handsome Furs in terms of the use of synths. What made you decide to go towards dance music with this project?
I think I’ve been heading that way ever since Sound Kapital got written.  I mean…I’ve always been a big fan of synths (the first Wolf Parade record was all Jupiter4 and Yamaha CS-01) but the move to really rhythm driven music started around 2009-10.  This band is really the first time I’ve been able to mix all these musical elements that i love together.  It just came really naturally in the songwriting process.

I hear some new wave influence in Operators. What are some of your influences for this project?
New Wave… definitely. I’m a big fan of the melancholy icy production from that era. The beggining of digital when it sounded raw and glassy. Basically the sound of cocaine. haha.

Early acid house, like Gene Hunt. James Holdens new record. Living in Silicon Valley. The Solaris soundtrack. Disco. New Polish cassette released dance music. Sci Fi novels. Laird Barron. Soviet synth demos on youtube. It’s all raw material for creativity. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to so much new music while working on a project.

I’ve read that certain periods of your life influence the music you make. Where would you say your life is at now?
Productive. I don’t know…something happened to me in the last few years where I feel kind of reborn. I started drawing from all these experiences I’ve had playing music, travelling and just basically living my life… drawing from them in a really positive way. When I got onstage for the first night of our CMW shows in Toronto, I felt like id come back from the jungle reborn.

EP1 came out a few months ago, EP2 is out pretty soon. Is there going to be a full length in the future?
Yes.  We’re working on it right now.

You’ve worked with Sam before in Divine Fits. How did you meet Devojka, you synth lady?
I met Devojka in Macedonia when she opened for Handsome Furs at MKC.  She’s a really fantastic songwriter…most of the people at the show were there to see her.  We stayed in touch over the years and when i was putting operators together she was a easy choice for a bandmate.  We had one writing, rehearsal session where I introduced her to this giant Frankenstein table of electronics i built and she just basically took to it immediately.  That was that.  She’s really great at arranging songs and pushing them in a direction i wouldn’t normally thing of.  Ancient is a good example of that.  She and Sam really play off each other well too…

You’re currently on tour with Future Islands. Both of your groups make dance-y, poppy music. Have you and Samuel from Future Islands had a dance-off by any chance?
Nah, but we have be talking about doing a series of duets as Ivory and Ivory.

Lastly, you’re playing two homecoming shows of sorts in Vancouver – the debut of your new band as well. Are you excited?
Yes!

Operators perform on January 30th and 31st at the Fox Cabaret.

By Michelle Swami

events calendar

 April
 
Apr 23   LP   Orpheum
Apr 23   Wallows (All Ages)   Venue
Apr 24   Yelawolf (Sask)   Coors Centre
Apr 25   Roy Blair   Fortune
Apr 25   Yelawolf (Winn)   Citizen
Apr 27   Knife Knights   Fortune
Apr 27   The Floozies   Celebrities UG
Apr 30   Peter Bjorn And John   Venue
 
 May
 
May 1   Lil Windex   Venue
May 2   Melvins   Venue
May 4   ionnalee   Venue
May 8   Jai Wolf   Venue
May 11   Michal Menert & Exmag   Fortune
May 18   Lolo Zouaï (All Ages)   Fortune
May 22   Pink Sweat$ (All Ages)   Fortune
May 22   SonReal (Cal)   Commonwealth
May 23   Orville Peck (Cal)   Commonwealth
May 25   Higher Brothers   Commodore
May 25   Jenn Grant   Fortune
May 28   BONES (All Ages)   Venue
May 28   J.I.D   Commodore
May 30   Snotty Nose Rez Kids   Fortune
May 31   BONES   Commonwealth
 
 June
 
Jun 4   Operators (Cal)   Commonwealth
Jun 7   Chromeo with a Live Band (All Ages)   Malkin Bowl
Jun 7   Operators/Handsome Furs   Fortune
Jun 8   Kranium   Venue
Jun 8   Operators/Handsome Furs   Fortune
Jun 14   Sticky Fingers   Commodore
Jun 14   Yungblud (All Ages)   Venue
Jun 15   Reverend Horton Heat   Venue
Jun 15   Sticky Fingers   Commodore
Jun 16   Reverend Horton Heat (Vic)   Distrikt
Jun 21   Together Pangea & Vundabar   Venue
Jun 23   Blue October   Venue
Jun 26   The Messthetics   Fortune
 
 July
 
Jul 5   FVDED In The Park 2019   Holland Park
Jul 11   Bob Log III   Fortune
Jul 20   Cuco (All Ages)   Venue
Jul 27   Comethazine (All Ages)   Venue
Jul 31   The Marías   Fortune
 
 August
 
Aug 5   Pixx   Fox
Aug 7   The Drums   Imperial
Aug 10   Everything Is Terrible   Fox
 
 September
 
Sep 17   Charlie Cunningham   Fox
Sep 23   Nitzer Ebb   Venue
Sep 26   Shura   Venue
 
 October
 
Oct 1   Kamelot & Sonata Artica   Venue
Oct 5   Delain, Amorphis & Anneke Van Giersberge   Venue
 
 November
 
Nov 4   Peter Hook & the Light   Venue
 
 December
 
Dec 6   The Chainsmokers   Rogers Arena