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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

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 October
 
Oct 25   Guerilla Toss   Fortune
Oct 26   Hollerado   Commonwealth
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Nov 3   Lil Tjay (All Ages)   Venue
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Jan 20   Rex Orange County   PNE Forum
 
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Mar 21   Brent Faiyaz   Commodore
 
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Apr 17   Poliça   Venue